Hello Kitty fans are ecstatic about Taiwan-based EVA Air's Hello Kitty-themed plane that will be flying to and from the United States on three of the carrier's 17 weekly flights between Taipei and L.A.. EVA Air’s chairman said he originally came up with the idea of Hello Kitty-themed planes “to make flying fun,” but the airline said it chose Los Angeles as its first long-range Hello Kitty Jet route “to not only attract more passengers from the United States but also to demonstrate the importance of the route.” NBC reports
But the new Hello Kitty plane is more than a paint job, it's an "experience". Before boarding a Hello Kitty plane, passengers receive adorable Hello Kitty boarding passes and baggage stickers. In the plane, the cabin crew don pink aprons that have Hello Kitty designs and during the flights, passengers use over 100 purr-ific in-flight service items, including Hello Kitty headrest covers, pillows, tissue, hand cream, hand-washing liquid, napkins, paper cups, utensils, snacks and meals.
The concept is far from cheap, but it is profitable. The airline pays licensing fees to use the Hello Kitty image on the plane and on in-flight items but, according to the March 2013 EVA Air in-flight magazine, when the Hello Kitty jets were first launched in Asia, load factors on the routes flown went up 3 percent and duty free sales were six times higher than on others.
On Wednesday, K.W. Chang, the chairman of EVA Air, and also an accomplished pilot, flew a Boeing 777 painted with the brand-new “Hello Kitty Hand-in-Hand” livery from Taipei, Taiwan to Los Angeles. The cute scene shows 19 Hello Kitty characters marketed by the Sanrio company, which has made Hello Kitty famous worldwide. The image stretches along the entire length of the aircraft and “has been designed to bridge cultural barriers and invite new friendships from around the world," the airline said.
Because the 777 flies at higher altitude and over longer distances than the shorter range jets, EVA used a painting process for the livery that was different and more detailed than the process it used to illustrate its A330s. A crew of 35 engineers spent almost two weeks painting the aircraft livery instead of using aviation-grade adhesive to put the characters in place.
“You either love it or hate it,” said Raymond Kollau of Airlinetrends.com. “EVA Air has tapped into this cultural phenomenon in a clever way in order to get noticed.” As an added bonus, “many parents looking to book a ticket will be happy to book a flight on the Hello Kitty express as it will keep the kids occupied during the flight.”
Image via Facebook