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Japanese airline selling $44 'gacha' capsule tickets in Nagoya to mystery destinations

A woman, left, purchases a ticket through Peach Aviation Ltd.'s vending machine at the Nagoya Parco shopping complex in the city of Nagoya on Nov. 11, 2021. (Mainichi/Toru Kuroo)

NAGOYA -- Japanese low-cost carrier Peach Aviation Ltd. has begun selling flight tickets to mystery destinations for 5,000 yen (about $44) through a capsule vending machine in this central Japan city on Nov. 11.

    Like the "gacha gacha" vending machines that dispense capsule toys randomly, which are prevalent in Japan, customers won't learn their destination until they open the capsule.

    The new vending machine was installed in the Nagoya Parco shopping complex in the city's Sakae district. All of the flights depart from Chubu Centrair International Airport near Nagoya, and the destination is written on a piece of paper in the capsule. On Nov. 11, some 100 people had lined up to buy them by 11 a.m., when they went on sale.

    Peach Aviation operates flights between Chubu airport and four domestic locations -- Sapporo and Sendai in northern Japan, and Okinawa and Ishigaki in southwest Japan -- and the destination will be one of these four areas. A serial number in the capsule will also award customers with mileage points worth more than 6,000 yen (approximately $53). If a lucky winner draws a "golden travel lot," they will receive mileage points worth 30,000 yen (roughly $260). Payments can only be made using the smartphone app PayPay.

    Also in the capsules is a "mission" at the destination, such as "break open a crab and give it to the person next to you." Among those who have completed their mission and posted proof on the company's website, one person per month will be given mileage points worth 3,000 yen (about $26).

    Since the company launched the scheme in Osaka in August and in Tokyo in October, a total of 4,800 capsules have been sold, making them a hot-selling product thanks to the new mystery destination concept.

    A 19-year-old female technical school student in the city's Chikusa Ward, who bought a capsule and won a trip to Sendai through the machine, said, "Though travel is my hobby, I couldn't go anywhere because of the coronavirus pandemic. Not knowing the destination is also exciting. I'm so happy because I've never been to Sendai."

    (Japanese original by Toru Kuroo, Handa Resident Bureau)

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