The pandemic came upon us with such unexpected force this year that all our plans to travel went for a toss. The unprecedented health crisis ran amok this year, making us stay confined to our homes for the longest time, as international and domestic travel restrictions were introduced in many countries around the world.
But in the absence of travelling, many people grew restless — having been looking forward to a much more happening 2020 and not such a cautious and dangerous one. As such, many airlines launched ‘flights to nowhere’, a trend that quickly got picked up and accepted by people, who wanted to feel the thrill of boarding an aircraft again, without the risk of exposure to the coronavirus.
Typically, flights to nowhere — as is evident from the name — take in passengers, and give them the impression of travelling again, without actually taking off, or sometimes taking off but not really landing anywhere, and returning to the same airport from where it had started.
In no particular order, here are some of the fantasy flights that marked 2020. Read on.
* In September, Australian airline Qantas had announced its plan for a seven-hour scenic flight to nowhere. In a social media post, Qantas had announced that it would fly by Uluru, Kata Tjuta, the Whitsundays, Gold Coast, Byron Bay and Sydney Harbour. The flight that was due to depart from the Sydney Domestic Airport on October 10 and return seven hours later, sold all of its 134 tickets — spanning business class, premium economy and economy — in just 10 minutes.
* In July, Taiwan’s Civil Aviation Administration had organised a fantasy flight, wherein it did not take off. Passengers were required to participate in an online draw, from where the winners were allowed to bring one guest. In total, some 66 passengers boarded the flight that went nowhere. They had to check-in, following which they were given their boarding passes. They had to pass through security and immigration, before they were allowed to board the flight.
* In August, more than 50,000 people had applied for a seat on Japan’s All Nippon Airways Hawaii-themed flight! Additionally, some 300 seats in a Hello Kitty-themed flight with EVA Air in Taiwan were also quickly booked after the airline made the announcement in August.
* In November, Thai Airways, too, launched a similar flight but with a twist. The flight departed from and landed back at Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport after flying over 99 holy sites across 31 provinces, but without stopping anywhere. It took off November 30, and was airborne for three hours, passing over sites such as Chon Buri, Rayong, Surat Thani, Prachuap Khiri Khan, Nakhon Pathom, Suphan Buri, Ayutthaya, Phitsanulok, Sukhothai, Chaiyaphum and Nakhon Ratchasima, among others.
* Some time back, Singapore Airlines, too, planned to launch some no-destination flights by the end of October. But, it later decided to scrap the idea, and instead launch a pop-up restaurant onboard one of its planes. It conducted a market study, after which it decided to use one of its grounded jumbo jets as a restaurant at the Changi Airport in Singapore.
The fantasy flying trend was also condemned by climate activists. A Guardian report stated that they said it puts a lot of unnecessary pressure on the environment. “We’ve got to get our heads around the fact that flying can’t be emissions-free anytime soon,” Mark Carter of campaign group ‘Flight Free Australia’ was quoted as saying by The Guardian.
Anna Hughes, the director of Flight Free UK, had also told the outlet: “I understand why they are doing it – but it really is insanity – a flight to nowhere is simply emissions for the sake of it. If that’s the society we’ve built, where we’re that addicted to flying, then we have a serious problem.
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