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Peach Aviation's mystery flights sold at vending machines in Japan soaring in popularity

Peach Aviation Ltd.'s flight attendants are seen promoting flight tickets to mystery destinations at Narita International Airport on Dec. 17, 2021. (Mainichi/Tadakazu Nakamura)

NARITA, Chiba -- The popularity of flight tickets to mystery destinations sold for 5,000 yen (about $44) through capsule vending machines by Japanese low-cost carrier Peach Aviation Ltd. is really taking off.

    After the first such machine was set up in the western Japan city of Osaka, the vending machines have spread to Tokyo, the central Japan city of Nagoya, and the southwestern Japan city of Fukuoka -- with some 11,000 capsules already sold.

    Sales of the capsules began on Dec. 17 for flights on all 23 Peach Aviation routes arriving at Narita International Airport and Kansai International Airport. Amid the prolonged effects of the coronavirus pandemic, the airline explained, "As people tend to lack an interest in traveling now, we wanted them to regain the excitement of travel. We'd like them to let their luck choose the destination, and go on a journey in search of an unexpected encounter."

    A sample of Peach Aviation Ltd.'s mystery flight tickets is seen at Narita International Airport on Dec. 17, 2021. (Mainichi/Tadakazu Nakamura)

    A user can buy a mystery "travel lot" for 5,000 yen and push the button on a vending machine to obtain a capsule which will include a name of a city where Peach Aviation operates flights. For example, there are 11 destinations from Narita including Sapporo in northern Japan, Kansai in western Japan, Fukuoka, Kagoshima and the island of Amami-Oshima in southwest Japan, as well as Naha and Ishigaki Island in Japan's southernmost prefecture of Okinawa. The lot will give the passenger 6,000 yen's (roughly $53) worth of points to purchase a ticket for the specified route. One can even receive 10,000 yen's (approx. $88) worth of points if they're lucky.

    For the in-flight sales that began on Dec. 17, flight attendants will go around the cabin with a transparent tote bag containing 15 capsules during flights, instead of having customers buy capsules from a vending machine. A flight attendant will make an in-flight announcement saying, "Why not feel the excitement of travel through a lottery to test your luck for your next trip?" and passengers who buy the flight tickets will wear gloves as an infection prevention measure and choose a capsule.

    Peach Aviation launched the scheme to let passengers enjoy the excitement of not being able to choose their own destination as well as the chance of unexpected encounters and discoveries. Through the use of the "travel lots," the company aims to change the concept of traveling with a destination already in mind, and provide an opportunity for people to embark on a journey.

    Aya Yamasaki at Peach Aviation's business strategy office said, "We were initially hoping to sell 30 capsules a month, so we're surprised they've become this popular. They're targeted at those who want to go somewhere, and not people who want a good deal, so passengers who have a fixed destination in mind should purchase airline tickets on sale and elsewhere." The firm has received various feedback from users such as, "I'm glad to have been able to travel to a place I never knew."

    The vending machines are installed at the Parco shopping complex in Shibuya in Tokyo, as well at Sakae in Nagoya, Shinsaibashi in Osaka, and Tenjin in Fukuoka. Peach Aviation is considering installing them in other areas in the future.

    (Japanese original by Tadakazu Nakamura, Narita Bureau)

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