Story by Taylor Weik.
They may have launched a Cartoon Network-themed line of trains back in July, but now Taiwan isn’t the only country who gets to experience cartoon travel firsthand. Taiwan’s EVA Air, known for its popular line of Hello Kitty jets, flew its Boeing 777-300ER Hello Kitty Hand-in-Hand Jet from Taipei to Los Angeles on September 18.
This will be EVA Air’s first long-range flight route and an expansion of the five shorter-range jets that, from its conception in 2005 up until now, had only flown from Taiwan to Japan, Korea, Hong Kong, China and Guam.
Piloted by EVA Chairman and airline Captain K.W. Chang, who conceived the idea for a Hello Kitty-themed flight line “to make flying fun,” the Hello Kitty Hand-in-Hand jet flew from the Taoyuan International Airport to LAX to celebrate the new jet service with fans and guests. Among those present for the celebration were Sanrio Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Kunihiko Tsuji, Japanese pop star Yoshiki and Head Hello Kitty Designer Yuko Yamaguchi, not to mention the nine cartoon members of the Sanrio Family.
Guests checked in at the Flight Path Museum at LAX, which was decorated with blown-up, pink boarding passes and various pictures of Hello Kitty flying in an airplane, before being escorted outside to a spacious tent where they could glimpse the jet landing on the strip. While waiting for the jet’s arrival, guests were invited to sip on champagne and munch on Hello Kitty-themed treats like red velvet iced cupcakes and browse the displays of all the in-flight items available. Hello Kitty playing cards, pillows and hand creams are just a few of the many items passengers can purchase in the jet’s sky shop. Hello Kitty artists from Tokyo were on hand to draw pictures of Sanrio characters and adorn fingernails with special Hello Kitty nail art, and Sanrio characters Cinnamoroll and Bad Badtz-Maru mingled and took pictures with fans.
The arrival of the Hand-in-Hand jet revealed a colorful paint job, with 19 Sanrio characters splashed across the length of the aircraft holding hands. EVA explained that the union of the critters was designed to “bridge cultural barriers and invite new friendships from around the world.” The airline also pointed out that “this is the first time Sanrio has featured characters with the familiar Hello Kitty that are not typically depicted among her family and friends.”
A performance by a troupe of Hello Kitty dancers, the introduction of nine Sanrio characters and the recognition of Chang, Tsuji and the jet’s other pilots were given before the jet’s doors opened to reveal its first passengers –– Hello Kitty and Dear Daniel themselves –– and to invite guests on board to take a full tour of the cabin.
The 312-seat is split into three cabins: Royal Laurel, Elite and Economy Classes, all of which offer passengers the opportunity to use more than 100 in-flight service items and select meals from its seasonal menus. EVA confirmed the Hand-in-Hand jet will be used on three of 17 weekly flights from LAX to TPE, with flight schedules listed on its website.