A Japanese airline is using a vending machine to sell flights to mystery destinations — and it has become very popular.
Peach Aviation first placed a machine in Osaka in mid-August as a marketing ploy, dispensing capsules with surprise trips inside, The Japan Times reported. Since then, the airline has sold more than 3,000 capsules, including as many as 150 in a day, and set up a second vending machine in a department store in Tokyo's Shibuya district.
Shuntaro Kosasa, the brand manager in Peach's branding and communication department, told the paper that many thought "promoting trips where travelers can't choose the destination probably wouldn't fly. We were thinking that it would be alright if we could sell one capsule per day… Yet the [machine] suddenly became hot… and we are really surprised."
Each capsule costs ¥5,000 (or about $44) and includes a piece of paper with a specific destination on it along with a promo code with points to be used toward the purchase of a ticket there. Most capsules contain codes for at least 6,000 points, which is equal to ¥6,000.
Destinations include popular hotspots throughout Japan, like Sapporo. The machine in Osaka offers people the chance to fly on 13 routes, while the machine in Tokyo offers the chance at 11 different routes from Narita Airport.
"Depending on the distance, it could be hit or miss, but it's kind of exciting to let [the machine] decide the location and travel there," one traveler who took a chance on the vending machine told The Japan Times. "I think this is a really interesting idea."
Vending machines have been used for everything from pecan pie to rare books and even Champagne in recent years. Last year, McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas started selling PPE like gloves and masks out of vending machines. And this year, Oakland International Airport in California became the first airport in the United States to sell COVID-19 tests in vending machines.
Alison Fox is a contributing writer for Travel Leisure. When she's not in New York City, she likes to spend her time at the beach or exploring new destinations and hopes to visit every country in the world. Follow her adventures on Instagram.