A lot has changed this year and people have adjusted in very odd ways. To cope with lockdowns and travel restrictions, people have turned to baking, outdoor hiking, or crying uncontrollably in the shower – whatever gets us through the days. Businesses are making their own efforts to stay afloat, which is why several airlines have started offering flights to nowhere in 2020. Surprisingly, there’s been a lot of demand.
There’s a lot about this year that is hard to believe, but as a traveler, one of the most bewildering is that people are willing to shell out hundreds and thousands of dollars to enjoy the absolute worst part of travel: the flight. When I travel, I like to dine out, sightsee among the locals, and get to know the culture of the cities I visit. Never in my life has wanderlust made me long to be cooped up in a metal tube with 150 strangers. Nonetheless, the trend has taken off in countries with the most restrictive border closures to keep restless travelers entertained. The flights to nowhere depart and land at the same airport, because they’re not allowed to go anywhere else.
The flight-to-nowhere travel trend started as early as July with countries in Asia leading the pack. Japanese airline ANA offered a 90-minute Hawaiian-themed scenic flight on a jet that normally travels between Tokyo and Honolulu. Taiwan’s Eva Air used its Hello Kitty Jets to shuttle people for almost 3 hours over Taiwan and Japan. The country’s national airline got in on the trend with a flight to nowhere from Taipei. Royal Brunei Airlines also launched a sightseeing flight called the Dine & Fly. Because the only thing more appealing to people than flying is eating on a flight.
Perhaps the most ambitious of the no-destination flights is offered by Qantas, whose scenic flight from Sydney takes passengers over the Great Barrier Reef and the Australian Outback. The flight costs up to $2,765 and lasts a whopping 7 hours. You couldn’t pay me $2,765 to take a flight to nowhere for 7 hours, much less ask me to pay that myself. But I may be in the minority, because the flight sold out in 10 minutes.
For other travelers thirsty to take flight, Japan is also offering virtual reality trips. “Passengers” get to board a fake plane and enjoy in-flight dining on their way to destinations like Paris, Rome and New York. The immersive experience which includes sightseeing at destination cities is made possible through the use of VR headsets. I guess the upside of all these experiences is that at least you don’t have to worry about overhead luggage space.
All this time, I thought my readers loved to travel and discover new places. Maybe some of you actually just like sitting uncomfortably in a tin can with recycled air. There really is something for everyone.