Cute and adorable or simply odd? The first of EVA Air's long range Hello Kitty jets completed its maiden flight to Los Angeles last week, drawing a litter of curious Kitty enthusiasts.
Whatever your taste -- and judging by the comments below on this updated story, Kitty is more than quite palatable -- the flight marks something of a big step in brand extension for Sanrio's famed cat.
Hello Kitty and her mates are hugely popular the world over, nowhere more so than in Asia where Taiwanese airline EVA Air flies five Kitty-themed planes in a tie-up with Sanrio. This adds to Kitty being on everything from restaurants to toasters (where Kitty's face is burned into your bread) to beer pong tables. Naturally.
Sticking her on a metal tube and taking her to the United States and back is a braver move -- thrice-weekly flights from Taipei to Los Angeles began September 20. Europe is unlikely to be spared with a European schedule also reportedly on the cards.
Each current Hello Kitty plane has a theme and for the Taipei-LAX flight, the new design features 19 Sanrio characters, including My Melody (Hello Kitty's BFF), Little Twin Stars' Kiki and Lala as well as rival character Kuromi, the trouble-making bunny.
That kind of explains the plane's theme of "Sanrio Family hand-in-hand." According to a company statement, the new design tries to convey the message of "embracing the world and overcoming various cultural barriers."
The Hello Kitty planes flying to Japan, Hong Kong, South Korea, China and Guam from Taiwan are A330s but for its States-side adventure the feline cat is aboard a new Boeing 777 aircraft, the world's largest twin-engined plane.
The cutesy brand has been co-opted by EVA Airways to try and attract new fliers from a growing Chinese market.
Like the A330s, the B777 is drenched inside and out with Kitty and co.
What do you think? Cute or sickening? Let us know in the comments below
In an earlier version of this story, we took a look at the interior of the A330s. which give an indication of what will reside inside the B777. More than 100 inflight items bear the Hello Kitty motif, including headrest covers, tissues, utensils, snacks and soap dispensers.
And when you're not blowing your nose on Hello Kitty or tearing her in two to get at some peanuts, flight attendants wearing Hello Kitty aprons will sell you limited edition duty-free goods branded with the cutesy animal.
Passengers' immersion into the world of Kitty begins before they get on the plane.
Boarding passes and baggage stickers are cat-stamped. Travelers board the aircraft through a special Kitty-embellished gate.
The Japanese cartoon company Sanrio launched Hello Kitty, depicted as a white female cat with a red bow in its hair, in 1974.
Three and a half decades later, she was earning worldwide revenue of $5 billion a year.
Sanrio and EVA Air collaborated on their first generation of Kitty-themed aircraft in 2005. With their latest flights, they are providing Kitty with a new aviation market to conquer.