Airline sells tickets to mystery places through vending machine


To travel

The Japanese low-cost carrier has an unusual new tactic to sell domestic tickets. Photo / Aviation Fishing

After more than 19 months of border restrictions, it’s not uncommon to hear someone say they would travel “anywhere” if given the opportunity.

But what if the destination was decided by an arcade game?

Japanese travelers can now take such a bet with a vending machine created by Peach Aviation.

Called “gachapon,” these capsule vending machines are a popular sight in Japan and can contain a variety of unusual items, from gas meters and toy figures to hand sanitizer and certified pearls.

If you visit the one set up by Peach Aviation in Tokyo’s Shibuya district, it won’t be an original device or toy that you receive, but a round-trip ticket to a surprise domestic destination.

It is only after you have paid 5,000 Japanese Yen (NZD) and received a mystery capsule that the destination will be revealed. Players are then given a code that translates into 6,000 Japanese Yen in mileage points, which can only be used to a certain destination.

All flights depart from Tokyo Narita Airport.

One of the recipients, Mao Otani, a 19-year-old student, told VICE that he received a trip to the remote town of Kushiro in Hokkaido.

“I’ve never been there and have no idea what I’m going to do, but I’m still excited,” he said. The young student had planned to make it a week-long trip, since it had been more than two years since his last vacation.

The capsules also come with a small badge and a “mission” that the leaflet can accomplish when visiting its destination.

Otani’s mission was to create a don katte, a popular seafood and rice dish that can be purchased at the Washo Market in Kushiro.

According to brand manager Peach Aviation and project manager Shuntaro Kosasa, the team was surprised at the popularity of the machine.

Since launching their first machine in Osaka in August, they have sold over 3,000 capsules, far exceeding their expectations of selling one capsule per day.

The project is not hugely profitable, however, Kosasa said the unexpected wave of social media support has been good for the airline.

As to why people choose the gachapon over just buying a ticket, Kosasa said the thrill and anticipation was a top draw.

“Not only is it new, but there is also the stimulation of the excitement of not knowing what destination you would get. It was time to do something fun, ”he told VICE.

The Shibuya vending machine will be active until December, with the option to launch in other places in Japan.

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