I’ve loved everything Hello Kitty since my early teens, when my Asian friend at school would bring me back stationery and various other items from her annual trips to Hong Kong. 17 years on and aged 30, I still love Hello Kitty and have often considered trying to grow out of it. Then Taiwanese airline, Eva Air, did something incredible.
They combined Hello Kitty and travel by partnering with Sanrio to create six special themed planes, decked inside and out with images and paraphernalia, travelling to eight destinations to and from Taipei – Tokyo, Sapporo, Fukuora, Seoul, Guam, Shanghai, Hong Kong and more recently, Los Angeles.
In all the last-minute frenzy of booking the pricey flight from South Korea to Taiwan, with Eva Airlines being the cheapest, I completely forgot about the possibility of the Hello Kitty flight until the epiphany came a few days before take off. Scouring the web to confirm, I found the specialised Kitty EVA Air website, where I could cross reference my BR160 flight number, and smiled as I watched the cute little Hello Kitty face float between Seoul and Taipei on screen as my confirmation.
The theme runs through everything to do with your flight, starting with the check-in screens and your boarding pass. Nothing escapes the branding, so if you are not a fan of Hello Kitty, it’s best to steer clear – it only gets more Kitty’fied as times goes on.
When the plane arrived, crowds formed at the window to snap pictures of the ‘Hello Kitty Loves Apples’ plane – adults (ahem, parents) being just as enthralled as the children. I saw two business men cower in horror, having no idea of the spectacle that was to unfold before them.
Flight attendants greet you while dressed in pink Hello Kitty aprons and your first sight on board is the sea of Hello Kitty headrest covers, before you relax with your Kitty pillow, read your pink safety instruction card and watch the on screen animations – a bombardment of kitsch, cuteness and joy. Even the bathroom escaped the usual bland attire, with the addition of specially created, joint branded Hello Kitty / Eva Air toilet paper alongside themed hand wash, hand cream and eau de toilette.
The attention to detail didn’t stop there. Dinnertime was met with coos and giggles as our in-flight meal was served, complete with edible Hello Kitty foods to be eaten with Hello Kitty cutlery. And I wasn’t the only one who kept the knife, fork and spoon, the plastic coffee serving stick, sugar sachets, the tray cover, paper cup and everything else in between – many people were delicately cleaning up their wares and popping them in their bags as souvenirs.
I can honestly say it was the happiest flight of my entire life. Even if you detest Hello Kitty, you can’t deny that such an idea breeds a lot of merriment, no matter what your age. As for the two businessmen, they happened to be in the seats behind me, spending much of the flight shifting in their seats and giggling nervously the entire time. They really had no idea of the existence of this flight and nor will they forget it. Much like the rest of us.