Houston sees its first Hello Kitty EVA Air Boeing 777-300ER (reg: B-16722)
It is hard to be a part of modern society without at least having a basic idea that Hello Kitty exists. I really had my first true run-in with the girl (she is not a cat, apparently), when covering the new international terminal opening up at Haneda Airport in Tokyo. They have a Hello Kitty store there, and while I have seen some backpacks and other knick-knacks with her image previously, I had no idea of the scale, nor the culture that surrounds this global brand. I was a bit impressed.
Dancing with Hello Kitty — where else? In Texas!
When I was recently invited to cover EVA Air’s inaugural flight from Taipei (TPE) to Houston (IAH), with a Hello Kitty celebration, I still was skeptical of the power of the cat-looking icon from a country that is not even the airline’s own.
However, after not only experiencing the event, but also a 15-hour-40-minute flight on the Hello Kitty-themed plane, I have to say that I am starting to respect it, but maybe not for the reasons you might imagine.
JAL Boeing 777-300ER landing in Haneda – Photo: Kentaro IEMOTO | Flickr CC
Recently, I visited Japan for the first time, and thanks to codesharing, my American Airlines ticket was for a flight operated by Japan Airlines. It’s always fun to try a new airline, and even better, I got an opportunity to fly in their Premium Economy cabin!
There’s my seat, 18A – Photo: Lauren Darnielle
Prior to boarding, I visited the Sakura Lounge at SFO, which is available to those traveling in Premium Economy – a nice benefit. It was pretty small, plain, and crowded, but I did appreciate the chance to have a little something before my flight. It was just after midnight, so at that hour, they had a selection of Japanese and American snacks along with mini sandwiches and a variety of alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages. I had a glass of orange juice, a mini egg salad sandwich, and some rice crackers, which were all tasty, and then headed back to the gate.
The lounge was a bit of a walk from the gate, up an elevator, and down a hallway, but with my very short layover from Seattle, I didn’t want to hang around too long and miss my pre-arranged early boarding.
Cathay Pacific Boeing 777-300ER at JFK – Photo: David Montiverdi | Flickr CC
Recently, I needed to get from New York (JFK) to Vancouver (YVR) and, surprisingly, it was not easy to find a flight that didn’t include a crazy set of layovers and several hours of travel time. I was not expecting to find a non-stop Cathay Pacific 777-300ER option — done!
Preparing for the flight out of New York in Cathay business class – Photo: Katka Lapelosová
The flight is special, since it is a transcontinental, but is operated as an international flight, since the stop in Vancouver is part of a longer hop to Hong Kong. Because of this, the flight lands in YVR at 1am, which means you should do some planning on getting to your final destination, since options will be limited.
It’s not a long flight – only about five-and-a-half hours – but it doesn’t mean one can’t enjoy the premium experience.
A Philippines Airlines’ Boeing 777-300ER
I’ve long said that New York is one of those cities that almost every long-haul airline in the world would like to serve. Maybe it’s because New York is home to the United Nations, or because nearly every nationality and ethnicity is represented along the eastern seaboard. Or maybe it is just the prestige of flying to the “greatest city in the world.” Whatever the reason, it benefits both AvGeeks and travelers with a wide variety of airlines flying to a huge number of destinations, both near and far.
Almost every major long-haul airline in Europe serves either John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) or Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR). JFK also sees several South American airlines, a few of which have added long-haul aircraft specifically to serve New York. All of the major Middle Eastern carriers fly to JFK, in some cases several times a day. And while JFK has long had flights from a few airlines in East Asia, recent years have seen several new airlines begin service, while a few existing carriers have added additional flights.
On Monday, March 18th, Philippine Airlines (PAL) became the latest Asian airline to begin flying to New York. Or, should I say, resume flying to New York.