There are countries where covid-19 is almost, almost a bad memory. Extremely low rates of infection, and hardly any community transmission mean much of society can return to a new normal, but it also means there are few places outside of the country where one can go. For those with an undying love of travel, that poses dilemmas, but airlines have a new solution
What if the plane never leaves the country, and just flies around for a while? In parts of Asia and Pacific where borders remain closed, that’s exactly what’s happening, and demand is so high, flights are selling out in advance.
Sold Out Flights To “Nowhere”
What if you could walk back into an airport and feel completely safe again, jumping on board a lovely jet to bring back the buzz of travel, with a glass of champagne to wash it down?
Better yet, what if the plane could do circles of stunning scenery? In Taiwan, China and Australia, travellers missing the buzz of flight are jumping on early opportunities to fly “pleasure flights” t nowhere, but experience the joy of the friendly skies once again. For airlines, it’s a lifeline they desperately need.
In Taiwan, EVA Air and China Airlines are offering themed flights to nowhere, with a party in the lounge before flight, drinks on board, and meals conceived from a three star Michelin chef. Even budget operator Tigerair is offering champagne and meals from Michelin starred chefs.
How much? Across each airline, these pleasure flights around Taiwan run circa $170 in economy, while business is a bargain at around $220.
Jumping on the trend, Qantas is rebooting flights to Antarctica, with a small catch. The flights depart from a variety of Australian gateways, fly for about three hours down to Antarctica, fly around key sights for about 6 hours, and then return back to the same airport of origin. Yep, it’s technically a flight to nowhere, but also so much more.
Using Qantas 787 Dreamliner’s, there’s even the option to sleep en route, albeit for about 6X the price. These flights aren’t cheap, running near $900USD in economy and $5500 in business class. New journeys kick off in November.
It’s not the cheapest way to spend the day, but for those missing the roar of a jet engine or the view outside an extra large window, the flights represent incredible novelty.
A New Era Of Creativity
As the long term nature of covid-19 sinks into hearts and minds, inspiring new ways to interact with travel are popping up, and for many travel businesses, they’re lifelines.
Hotels around the world are adapting bars, pools and restaurants to bring locals back in, tour guides are offering virtual excursions and talks, and the joys of international shipping mean your favourite goods are only a few days away.
If flights to nowhere keep a few airlines in business, and remind the world how special life in the skies really is, there’s a lot to love.