In 2008 I was at the Taipei airport on my way to Bangkok when I looked out the window and saw Hello Kitty plastered on the side of an airplane. I slightly freaked out. I learned that the Taiwanese airline EVA Air operates several Hello Kitty themed planes. Ever since then, I’ve been dying to go on one.
While figuring out the logistics of my trip for this summer, I knew I had to get myself onto one of the HK planes. I found my way to the route planner that shows where and when the planes fly and was glad to see that a flight between Osaka and Taipei fit into my schedule. The only downside was that unlike the other airlines flying between the cities, EVA Air wasn’t offering one-way fares for half the price of a round trip. So I booked a roundtrip flight and reasoned that paying extra was justified in this situation. If I’m spending the summer visiting cat cafes, I can’t NOT fly on the Hello Kitty plane. My only fear was the fine print that said the Hello Kitty plane wasn’t guaranteed and could be substituted for a regular one if needed.
Once at the airport, I found an EVA Air self check-in kiosk and printed my ticket. I then located the bag drop, knowing it was the right place when I spotted the monitor sporting Hello Kitty. I handed over my passport and generic boarding pass, which the woman at the counter poo-pooed as she printed a proper ticket worthy of the HK flight experience. Seeing my excitement, she also gave me a carry-on bag tag and an extra sticker. And then another airline employee offered to take my photo.
At the gate, I was disappointed to see that the jetway was very long and bent in such a way that it totally obscured the plane, so I only caught a glimpse of it through the jetway windows. Based on what I did see, it was the Hello Kitty Around the World plane, which is my favorite one! As I boarded, a flight attendant sporting a gold Hello Kitty pin offered me a deck of HK playing cards. The plane had standard seats and such, but was decorated with HK pillows and headrest protectors. The video screens and the seatback items, including the barf bag, all featured Hello Kitty.
Before takeoff, a flight attendant came to confirm my vegetarian meal. EVA Air gets bonus points for that; I’m at around 60% success overall when it comes to my requested meal making it to my seat. I had seen some photos of the plane meals when I was researching flights, so I was a bit disappointed that there were no cat-shaped items. I’m guessing it was because my flight didn’t originate in Taipei. At least there was Hello Kitty ice cream, although apple pie should have been the dessert, as it’s her favorite.
If you’re hoping to catch a flight with Hello Kitty, all of the routes start or end in Taipei. Destinations include Shanghai, Osaka, Tokyo, Bali, Seoul, Guam, Fukuoka, Paris, Singapore, and . . . Houston. So yes, it’s possible to catch a glimpse of one of the planes in the US!
Oh, and when I arrived in Taiwan and went to the 7-11 to get a bus pass, there were a few design options from which to choose. It’s not a surprise which one I picked.