Vending machine sells airline tickets to 'mystery' locations

Author
NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Tue, 26 Oct 2021, 1:58PM
Japan's low-cost carrier has an unusual new tactic for selling domestic tickets. (Photo / Peach Aviation)
Japan's low-cost carrier has an unusual new tactic for selling domestic tickets. (Photo / Peach Aviation)

Vending machine sells airline tickets to 'mystery' locations

Author
NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Tue, 26 Oct 2021, 1:58PM

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

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

Japanese travellers can now take such a gamble with a vending machine created by Peach Aviation. 

Called 'gachapon', these capsule vending machines are a popular sight in Japan and can hold a variety of unusual objects from gas meters and toy figurines to hand sanitiser and certified pearls. 

If you visit the one set up by Peach Aviation in Tokyo's Shibuya district, it won't be a quirky appliance or toy your receive, but a round-trip ticket to a surprise domestic destination. 

Only once you pay 5,000 Japanese yen (NZD) and receive a mystery capsule will the destination be revealed. Players are then given a code that translates to 6,000 Japanese yen in milage points, which can only be used towards a certain destination. 

All flights depart from Tokyo's Narita Airport. 

One recipient, 19-year-old college student Mao Otani, told VICE he has received a trip to the remote city of Kushiro in Hokkaido. 

"I've never been there and I have no idea what I'll do, but I'm excited anyway," he said. The young student planned to make it a week-long trip, since it had been over two years since his last holiday. 

The capsules also come with a small pin badge and a 'mission' the flier can do when they visit their destination. 

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

According to Peach Aviation's brand manager and director of the project Shuntaro Kosasa, the team had been surprised at just how popular the machine had become. 

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

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

As for why people choose the gachapon rather than simply buying a ticket, Kosasa said the thrill and anticipation was a prime draw. 

"Not only is it new, there's stimulation from the excitement of not knowing which destination you'd get. It was time to do something fun," he told VICE. 

Shibuya's vending machine will be active until December, with the possibility of launching in other locations around Japan.