Browsing Tag: Houston

Houston sees its first Hello Kitty EVA Air Boeing 777-300ER

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? Texas!

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.

Air New Zealand Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner ZK-NZF – Photo: Kris Hull

Air New Zealand on Thursday announced a North American expansion, adding Houston George Bush Intercontinental Airport as their fourth U.S. destination. Air New Zealand currently serves Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Honolulu, in addition to Vancouver, Canada to the north.

BONUS: Flying Like a Boss in Air New Zealand’s Business Premier Seat

Service to Auckland was long-sought by Houston; Continental Airlines (prior to their merger with United) had announced service in 2010, only to cancel the service in 2012 prior to introduction.  That said, the route likely makes good sense for Air New Zealand, given their status as a member of the Star Alliance.  United’s giant presence at their Houston hub will allow for significant feed to the Air New Zealand flight, along with smooth connections for inbound travelers to the U.S. east coast and Latin America.

Over the Caribbean Sea - Photo: David Delagarza | AirlineReporter

Over the Caribbean Sea – Photo: David Delagarza | AirlineReporter

That’s one small flight for a 737, one giant leap forward for Southwest Airlines and Houston Hobby Airport (HOU).  In a sign of things to come, Southwest added to its daily Aruba service out of Baltimore and Orlando with a seasonal weekly flight between Houston and Aruba’s Queen Beatrix International Airport (AUA). Last Saturday, I joined Southwest for the inaugural flight between Aruba and Houston.  This flight was the first international commercial arrival into Hobby airport.

I ⥠Aruba, the unoffical theme of the island.  - Photo: David Delagarza | AirlineReporter

I ⥠Aruba, the unofficial theme of the island – Photo: David Delagarza | AirlineReporter

Although Hobby Airport does not have customs and immigration facilities, Southwest is able to operate the flight thanks to the Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) preclearance facility in Aruba, which allows passengers to clear customs and immigration prior to departing for the United States. This October, however, Hobby Airport is scheduled open a new five-gate international terminal, complete with customs and immigration facilities, which will enable Southwest to further add to its international offerings at Houston.