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This Japanese airline sells ‘surprise destination’ flights through vending machines

By PINKY S. ICAMEN Published Oct 19, 2021 9:51 pm

It's always fun trying your luck in gachapons, or capsule vending machines, for some bric-a-brac. Recently, a Japanese airline company used these gachapons to spark excitement in travelers by filling them with capsules containing mileage points that may be converted to flights to random domestic destinations.

The aviation industry is among the worst hit by the pandemic and some airline companies thought of ways to stay afloat while leisure travel is still waiting to gain steam including offering flights to nowhere or conducting weddings onboard a grounded aircraft.

As travel and tourism are slowly coming back to life, Osaka-based budget airline Peach Aviation created the Travel Lottery and set up capsule vending machines in the bustling Shibuya district where people can get try their luck and get points to buy a plane ticket to a surprise destination.

Each capsule is worth 5,000 yen (about P2,200) and contains a piece of paper that indicates the amount of round-trip mileage points that may be redeemed on the airline’s website. There, customers can use to points to book for their flights to the pre-determined destination.

According to reports, some customers got more than the 5,000-yen worth of points they paid for. These points are valid until March 31, 2022.

There are 11 domestic flights that are departing from Narita International Airport and 13 flights departing from Kansai International Airport, with destinations including Sapporo, Fukuoka, Nagasaki, Okinawa and Sendai.

Also included in the capsule is a pin badge and a “mission” that the customer may participate in when he or she reaches the destination.

Vice reported that there was a customer whose “mission” was to assemble a seafood rice bowl dish called katte don at Kushiro’s Washo Market, and another one was to dress up as the popular Osaka clown.

Meanwhile, The Japan Times reported that company employees were initially skeptical about the promotion as they believe promoting trips where travelers cannot choose their destination would be a flop.

But since it started, the airline has already sold more than 3,000 capsules and more gachapons are expected to pop up in the city. As of this writing, the company said on its website that it has received a response for the promotion that far exceeded its expectations and the sales for October is already sold out.