Quirky offers: Airlines offer “flights to nowhere” due to coronavirus

The main thing on the plane: some airlines now offer flights that depart and land at the same location. In the case of other fake rice, no one takes off.

Rundreisli in the medium-haul jet – and the pilot plays the tour guide.

Royal Brunei Airlines / RKN

  • Some airlines have recently started offering sightseeing flights where the departure and arrival airports are identical.
  • Such offers are aimed at consumers who miss flying.
  • The fake rice is mainly offered in Asia.
  • However, Europe is too climate-conscious for that.
  • In times of crisis, however, there are also offers where the plane never takes off.

Sitting on the plane for three hours, only to get off at the same place where you took off – Singapore Airlines plans to launch such “flights to nowhere” next month, like local media to report. The offer is intended to give passengers who miss flying due to the pandemic the opportunity to see the world from above again.

If the offer is well received, it would be a way to deploy planes and crew without losing money. Other airlines have already shown that there is demand: In August Royal Brunei Airlines launched “Dine & Fly”, an airplane brunch, during which the pilot, like a tour guide, tells about the sights of the landscape passing by below (s. Video above). According to the airline, the tickets were sold out within 48 hours.

In Australia, Qantas recently started using the Boeing 787 Dreamliner for flights to the Antarctic – also without landing. The day trip across the white continent costs between 800 and 5300 francs. According to the website, there are already only a few tickets left for the 2020/2021 season and some of the flights are fully booked.

“People miss the excitement”

According to William Agius, aviation expert at the ZHAW, there are various reasons for the popularity of such offers. “Some people certainly miss the excitement that comes with traveling by air.” Others are eager to collect airline miles despite the crisis without having to go into quarantine in the country of arrival.

Because if you fly a lot with an airline, as a frequent flyer you receive various small advantages that some passengers don’t want to do without. However, you have to maintain this frequent flyer status by continuing to fly regularly, otherwise you will lose the benefits.

Aviation expert Cord Schellenberg nowhere reminds the flights to cruises. During the crisis, many providers started offering voyages during which you are on the ship all the time. So the purpose of the trip is to be on the ship. Similarly, in Asia, flying is seen as an end in itself, says Schellenberg: “For many people, flying is and remains a dream.” For European consumers, on the other hand, the flight has to serve another purpose – be it a trip to another place, a flight in a historical plane or a sightseeing flight with special sights.

According to Schellenberg, however, it now makes no sense for the airlines to start coming up with creative, alternative offers because people in the pandemic cannot travel for their usual purposes: “Now is no time for gimmicks.” The companies are very busy rebuilding the flight schedule to some extent despite short-time work. It is not worthwhile to concentrate on new crisis offers that will no longer be worthwhile later.

Many more airlines have now started operating similar flights to nowhere – mainly in Asia. According to Agius, this is probably due to the fact that there is far less awareness of the environmental issue than in Europe, for example.

“Sheer nonsense”

Priska Seiler Graf, SP National Councilor and Co-President of the Air Transport, Environment and Health Coalition, cannot imagine that such flights could ever be introduced in Switzerland: “These sightseeing flights with wide-body aircraft are pure nonsense.” Especially at a time when heat and fires threaten many people, such offers that cause a lot of CO₂ emissions without meeting mobility needs are completely incomprehensible.

At Swiss, such flights are not even considered, as Swiss spokeswoman Meike Fuhlrott said on request: “From an ecological point of view, it is in no way an option.” Swiss is currently concentrating on offering a stable flight schedule that is in line with demand.

Getting in and out without taking off

But there are also more environmentally friendly variants of such flights: some planes never take off. Songshan Airport in Taipei launched a “Pretend You’re Leaving the Country” tour this summer. In this context, passengers can tour the airport, board an aircraft and then go back through customs without ever leaving.

One of the reasons Songshan offers these half-day fake rice rice is because the airport was recently expanded. Even if you cannot go abroad at the moment, interested parties should still get to know the new airport. And there was great interest: 7,000 people registered, 180 took part in the three fake flights in July. Further tours have now been announced.

Airplane restaurant

Thai Airways does it a little differently again: The airline has opened a restaurant in Bangkok – the experience is based on the experience on board an airplane of the airline: You take a seat on airplane seats, there are airplane meals to eat, and you also receive a boarding pass Souvenir.

For Thai Airways this is likely to be a kind of act of desperation: The company’s planes have been on the ground since May, and the airline has filed for bankruptcy protection with the authorities.

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