A bittersweet moment for skyborne sweets.

As Japan’s first low-cost carrier, Skymark Airlines is generally thought of as an option for budget-minded travelers flying domestic routes. However, to those in the know, Skymark also has a reputation as the provider of one of Japan’s most smile-inducing in-flight services: free KitKats.

In the fall of 2016, Skymark began providing passengers with complimentary KitKats along with a free cup of coffee or tea as part of their in-flight service. Granted, this wasn’t some limited-time, seasonal flavor KitKat but instead the classic chocolate version, and it was a mini size. Still, with Japan being immensely fond of KitKats, and most domestic flights only being an hour or less in length, it made a perfect snack to munch on while enjoying your beverage, with that happy feeling likely still lingering on your taste buds/in your heart after the plane touched down.

Sadly, Skymark has announced that its in-flight KitKat service will soon be ending. As of March 1, its shuffling up its in-cabin concessions, part of which involves discontinuing the free mini KitKats after the end of February.

The airline’s official Twitter account broke the news, and fans were quick to react with comments showing just how strongly associated Skymark and the sweet snack had become with each other:

“Whenever I hear ‘Skymark,’ the first thing I think of is that they give you a free KitKat.”
“That always made me so happy! Bummed that I won’t be able to get one on the Skymark flight I have booked this summer. Thank you for all the beautiful memories.”
“I’ve gotten so many Skymark KitKats over the years. Thank you!”
“Thank you for all the KitKats up until now. So I guess the one I got on my flight two weeks ago will be my last. It was delicious and made me happy.”
“I loved the Pikachu KitKats.”

As that last comment alludes to, Skymark has had periodic collaborations with the Pokémon franchise, and as part of the partnership Pikachu often appeared on the wrappers of the in-flight KitKats, with passengers often snapping photos of theirs before opening them.

▼ The only thing better than free sweets: free sweets with a surprise appearance by Pikachu.

Even when Pikachu wasn’t present, the Skymark KitKats frequently had festive little illustrations of famous sightseeing spots in the cities the carrier flies to/from.

Skymark’s statement doesn’t include the reason why it’s ending in-flight KitKats, but it’s not hard to deduce. In Japan, KitKats are sold by Nestle, and back in 2016, at the same time as Skymark started handing out free KitKats, they also started pouring free cups of Nescafé coffee.

However, Nescafé will no longer be available in-flight either starting March 1, implying that Skymark and Nestle’s working relationship has ended, with the discontinuation of the complimentary KitKats part of the dissolution.

On the plus side, Skymark will be continuing to provide free in-flight coffee, now a house brand made in partnership with Japanese coffee maker UCC and green tea, and they’ll also be offering complimentary apple juice starting March 1. And while they won’t be completely free, for just 100 yen (US$0.70) passengers can purchase bags of Ugisu Balls (crunchy bit of sweet mochi) or Mini Shiruko Sandwiches (biscuits filled with sweet red bean paste), made in Hyogo and Aichi Prefectures, respectively.

The other silver linings to this are that, thankfully, there’s not much price-gouging at stores at Japanese airports, which often have branches of major convenience store chains selling items, including KitKats, at their regular, affordable prices, so procuring your own snacks before boarding won’t hurt your wallet very much. There’s also the fact that because this is a leap year, there’s one extra day more, February 29, than there could have been for the in-flight KitKats (sort of like what’s happening with Mos Burger’s massive meat sandwich).

Still, if the lack of free sweets is likely to sour you on air travel, at least Japan has some great rail pass deals going on these days.

Source: Skymark via IT Media, Twitter/@SkymarkJ
Top image: Nestle
Insert images: Nestle, Skymark
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