Photo: Courtesy EVA Air.
Please take a moment, if you will, and imagine with us the various board meetings, logistical huddles, and final rubber stamping that went down to make these Hello Kitty airplanes a reality. Proposals were made. PowerPoint presentations were given. Men and women in well-tailored business suits discussed the matter soberly and seriously. Those executives of Taiwan's EVA Air carried with them, in their fine ostrich-leather briefcases, mockups of aircraft adorned with cartoon cats. "But what if there's no room for Bad Badtz-Maru on the fuselage?" someone might have asked, gravely.
This is not a dream. On Thursday, EVA landed its first U.S.-bound Hello Kitty jet, a Boeing 777-300ER, at Los Angeles International Airport. The "Hand-in-Hand" airplane is one of several Sanrio-branded jet designs, and will be used on three of EVA's 17 weekly flights between LAX and Taipei's Taoyuan International Airport.
But why? Why? EVA chairman K.W. Chang told reporters that the jets simply "make flying fun and passengers love them." Which, we guess, is about as convincing an argument as could be made for turning a $315-million airplane into an 11-year-old girl's bedroom.
Passengers are treated to a Sanriofest inside the aircraft, too. Beginning at check-in, passengers receive Hello Kitty-branded boarding passes and baggage stickers. Flight attendants wear pink aprons with Hello Kitty designs. And Kitty herself appears on "more than 100 in-flight service items, including headrest covers, pillows, tissue, hand cream, liquid hand soap, napkins, paper cups, utensils, snacks and meals," according to EVA.