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Airlines & Airports / Pop Culture Travel

Theme Parties at 30,000 Feet

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With the ridiculous baggage fees, crowded airports, and long connections that today’s average traveler must endure, it’s pretty understandable why the act of “traveling” isn’t considered fun anymore. We get it. The security restrictions are necessary, and the competition among airlines means these fees aren’t going away anytime soon.

Fortunately, there are a few airlines going the extra mile to put the fun back into flying: they’re basically throwing theme parties at 30,000 feet. Here are the ones you’ll want to make sure to RSVP to this year.

EVA Air’s Hello Kitty Jets

While most of their Hello Kitty fleet only operates on flights in Asia to and from Taiwan, EVA Air offers a flight from Los Angeles to Taipei three times weekly. It’s about as much fun as you could have on a 13-hour flight, with just the right amount of Hello Kitty.

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She’s on the toilet paper, airplane safety cards, and even the in-flight meals.

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Even checking in at the airport is more fun with Hello Kitty. At Taipei’s Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport, the self-service kiosks are pink…with bows and whiskers.

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Alaska Airlines’ Disney Planes

This small fleet of five has a partnership with Disneyland Resorts and works with the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Their planes have huge vinyl Disney graphics that were airbrushed by hand with over 70 colors featuring murals from Mickey Mouse to Cars.

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Make-A-Wish Alaska has granted over 1,000 wishes flown by Alaska Airlines, which inspired the design.

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The planes fly many routes serviced by Alaska so, if you happen to find yourself on one, peek into the cockpit…sometimes the pilots are known to wear Mickey ears.

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JAL’s Happiness Express

Disney aficionados can also experience Mickey in the sky, on Japan Airlines‘ plane that celebrated Tokyo Disney Resort’s 30th Anniversary last spring.  The plane, named “Happiness Express,” is one of a few Disney-themed planes in JAL’s routes. Tip: If you want to ensure you’ll be flying on a themed plane, reach out to the airline directly to ensure your flight numbers match up before booking. Flight numbers frequently change, and sometimes even the happiest planes on earth have to spend a few days in the shop.

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JAL Happiness Express Jet

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Air New Zealand Hobbit Plane

Air New Zealand released their second Boeing 777-300 Hobbit-themed plane last year. The plane is plastered with an extra large graphic of the Dragon Smaug. The decal is one of the biggest to ever be placed on a jet, and will stay on the plane through the release of the third film.

A bonus? Air New Zealand even has a Middle-Earth themed in-flight video.

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Even if you don’t make your way over to the land of Kiwis, the video is definitely worth watching.

The new look was even approved by the entire cast, including Peter Jackson.

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Plus, the Hobbit theme? It’s taken very seriously…by everyone.

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Super Fan Jets

Almost every year, at least one airline becomes a super fan and adorns one of its planes in a favorite XXXXL jersey. JetBlue has a Boston Red Socks themed A320, showing support for their home team as a Boston-based airline.

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US Airways released an Arizona Cardinals A319 last year.

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Air New Zealand showed its creative flare again when they decided to repaint its entire 103 plane fleet (except maybe the Hobbit 777) in an effort to inspire pride among the country. All planes feature the famous NZ silver fern logo, and a number of planes are literally all black—representative of their World Championship rugby team, the All Blacks.

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For more themed travel, check out:

By Courtney Crockett for PeterGreenberg.com 

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