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11 Incredible Facts About EVA Air's New 'Hello Kitty' Airplane

September 19, 2013 at 12:21 PM | by | ()

It's not every day you see dancing on the tarmac at Los Angeles International Airport, but when that dancing is to celebrate the arrival of a Hello Kitty-themed airplane, it's completely warranted.

Slipping into a gate alongside the tails of 787s, 747-8s and A380s yesterday was EVA Air's brand new Boeing 777-300ER, its body painted all over with the cheery cartoons of Sanrio's Hello Kitty and friends.

Over 70 Hello Kitty enthusiasts were on the inaugural flight, joined by a troupe of Hello Kitty dancers, characters, artists and Hello Kitty's creator herself, Yuko Yamaguchi. The arrival marks the beginning of regular, nonstop flights between LAX and Taipei-Taoyuan for this aircraft, which is arguably the most kawaii addition to aviation since Pokémon showed up on some 747s. Even as Alaska Airlines' Mickey Mouse plane passed by, all eyes remained on EVA's Kitty.

Before booking a flight, however, there's some things you should know about EVA Air's Hello Kitty 777:

1. The safety instruction cards feature Hello Kitty

Safety cards are always to be taken seriously, but that doesn't necessarily mean they can't be livened up by the presence of a cute kitty cartoon here and there.

2. It's not the only Hello Kitty airplane!

Though the LAX route's "Hand-in-Hand" Boeing jet debuted yesterday, it's not the first Hello Kitty airplane from EVA Air. There are currently five other EVA Air kitty jets, all Airbus A330s. This sixth is, however, the first 777, the first long-range aircraft, and the first to "feature characters with the familiar Hello Kitty that are not typically depicted among her family and friends." Instead, the focus is on the entire Sanrio family, and some 19 characters are pictured on the plane (including Dear Daniel, Badtz-Maru, Keroppi, Cinnamoroll and My Melody).

3. There is a Business/First Class cabin

Will businessmen or premium travelers fly on a Hello Kitty-theme plane? Absolutely! In fact, if you're a traveler booking EVA Air's BR15 flight from LA to Taipei on Monday, Thursday, or Saturday, then you're getting this plane no matter what. Thus, the airline offers 46 Royal Laurel class seats, each angled with direct aisle access and able to turn into a lie-flat bed. And, before you ask, yes—the in-flight meals and goodies up here are still Hello Kitty-themed. Further back, there is a Premium Economy cabin (called "Elite" class), and then standard Economy.

4. Your pilot may also be the airline's Chairman

The inaugural flight of the Hand-in-Hand jet was piloted by EVA Air's Chairman, K.W. Chang. He is the first airline chairman to also be a commercial airline pilot and counts Los Angeles as his second home, so don't be shocked if, on your flight, an announcement from the cockpit shares that he'll be your captain today.

5. Photography is encouraged

Unlike some airlines, EVA Air's Hello Kitty flight has no problem with photography. In fact, the experience is all about the visual aspects. Taking selfies for half the flight? A photo with a flight attendant? Multiple photo angles of your in-flight meal? No problem! Take more! Share them on social media! Add a hashtag: #HelloKittyEVAAir.

6. Four words: Hello Kitty TOILET PAPER

There's no escaping Hello Kitty on this plane, even in the bathrooms. On the roll there's Hello Kitty toilet paper. Wash your hands with Hello Kitty soap, and lay on the Hello Kitty lotion. Vomit bags? Hello Kitty as well!

7. Limited-edition, airplane-specific items are for sale

Just as each plane has its own specific Hello Kitty theme, so too do they carry a bevy of limited-edition products for sale only while you're in flight. For example, traveling on the Hand-in-Hand jet between LAX and Taipei means you have the opportunity to snag a Bluetooth travel keyboard, featuring the "Hand-in-Hand" artwork of this very plane.

8. In-flight meals are tasty and cute

When the flight attendants deliver the in-flight meal service, have your camera ready. Fruit salads are Hello Kitty-shaped, as are breakfast waffles and garnishes to entrees. Perhaps you prefer the salmon? Even that will be branded (literally) with the image of Hello Kitty, all laid out with a tray, placemat, utensils and glasses keeping with the theme.

9. Some extras are free, if you ask nicely

While there's a duty-free shopping magazine and all the special little trinkets to purchase, some extras come complimentary to improve the in-flight experience. One example are packs of playing cards, each themed for the specific aircraft on which you're flying.

10. The themes change with the seasons

Above are the autumn-time drink coasters, which match an entire range of autumnal accessories you'll experience if you're flying the jet this season. Come winter, expect snowflakes. For spring— cherry blossoms. Summer is all fireworks.

11. The level of detail is delightfully obsessive

When checking in to your return flight at Taipei's Taoyuan International Airport, you'll find ticketing kiosks, a boarding lounge, baggage tags, ticket jackets and more completely in line with the Hello Kitty theme. Even a box traveling as checked luggage and marked with a "fragile" sticker can't escape Hello Kitty.

To fly on Hello Kitty's newest route between Taipei and Los Angeles, book EVA Air flight numbers BR15 (LAX-TPE) on Monday, Thursday or Sunday and BR16 (TPE-LAX) on Sunday, Wednesday and Friday. To check out the other five aircraft and their Asia routes, visit EVA Air's official Hello Kitty flight site.

Juliana Shallcross also contributed to this story.

[Photos: Cynthia D. & Juliana S. for Jaunted]

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