The Upgrade

I'm a Grown-Up Man And I Got Downright Giddy to Fly on a Hello Kitty-Theme Plane (Squee!)

And yes, I might have gone a little crazy at the Hello Kitty-theme duty-free shop, too.

Hi! It’s Ben Schlappig here again, the blogger behind One Mile at a Time. Yesterday I introduced you to my uber-luxury travel lifestyle, all made possible by miles and points.

I also welcomed you to come along with me on a 21-day journey around the world, as I’ve joined up with Bravo’s Jet Set to give you a glimpse into how I make this all happen. The first leg was a 14-hour flight from Los Angeles to Taipei — where, of course, I worked the whole way. (But in high style!)

When we arrived, we spent the night at the Novotel Taipei Airport to get a real night's sleep — and I found a giant panda bear in my room! Pandas are a big theme here, further evidenced by the cookies in the executive lounge.

Pandas everywhere at Taipei airport

Now it may not have been the lap of luxury, but it sure was convenient and there was a method to my madness. Mainly I spent the night because I wanted to be wide awake for the flight we were taking the next day, which I was most excited about: EVA Air’s Hello Kitty-themed experience!

EVA's partnership with Sanrio dates back many years, and the airline has six planes decked out in a Hello Kitty configuration, both inside and out. These planes are scheduled to fly to certain destinations, so you can lock in a Hello Kitty flight when you plan your travels. I know I’m a bit unusual, but I have many of the same interests as tween girls. So we arrived at the airport extra early in order to be able to enjoy every aspect of the experience.

We were off to a good start when we pulled up to the airport at the same time as a Hello Kitty bus. That’s right, they even have Hello Kitty buses to take passengers to the airport.

Even airport transportation carried the Hello Kitty theme!

Since Taipei Taoyuan Airport is EVA Air’s hub, they have a massive check-in hall. However, there’s one part that stands out: EVA Air has a special Hello Kitty check-in facility, with pink kiosks. Most passengers seemed to be using the area to just sit down and relax — I was one of the only ones who was giddy about the whole setup.

Have you ever seen a pinker check-in counter?

The Hello Kitty theme doesn’t stop at check-in, though: Once past security, there’s a Hello Kitty themed gate as well. Observing the people is always amusing, as it’s pretty apparent that most didn’t intentionally book a Hello Kitty flight, and are caught off guard by the theme. So you can’t help but laugh when you see a business traveler sitting at a Hello Kitty playground while waiting for a flight!

The other cool thing is that there’s a Hello Kitty duty-free shop right next to the gate. I may have bought a few things — I couldn’t help myself.

So much to buy...

Since we had a bit of extra time, we also checked out EVA Air’s lounges. When flying in business class, you typically have access to a lounge, which is a great place to recharge your electronics, get access to fast and free Wi-Fi, grab a shower, and have food and drinks. EVA Air’s lounges at Taipei Taoyuan Airport are especially… unique. This lounge felt a bit like something out of the movie Tron.

A lounge that gets noticed

The lounge also has shower rooms, which tend to be available in most of the better international lounges, particularly in Asia and the Middle East.

Overall it was a fun couple of hours at Taipei Airport, and I appreciate EVA’s commitment to a theme. Fortunately, the Hello Kitty airport experience was only beginning, as there was a lot more Hello Kitty to come once I got on board. Stay tuned for all of that fun madness in the next installment!

FOLLOW MY JOURNEY: 

See where my trip started, back in LAX!

See how the pros take the miles game to the extreme... and regular folks can play too!

Ben Schlappig, the blogger behind One Mile at a Time, experiences about $1 million worth of travel every year using miles and points — and covers about 400,000 miles annually this way. Ben has teamed up with Bravo’s Jet Set for a series called The Upgrade, in which he shows you how you — yes, you! — can score real-world-ready strategies for upping your travel game. Come along for the adventure!

Jet Set is Bravo's launch pad for the most extravagant, luxurious, and unforgettable travel experiences. Ready for takeoff? Then Like us on Facebook to stay connected to our daily updates.

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