The Flight Goes Nowhere. And It’s Sold Out.


In August, Nadzri Harif, a D.J. at Kristal FM radio station in Brunei, set foot in an airport for the primary time in six months. The expertise, he mentioned, was exhilarating. Sure, shifting via Brunei International Airport was completely different, with masks, glass dividers and social-distancing protocols in place, however nothing might beat the anticipation of getting on a airplane once more.

His vacation spot: nowhere.

Mr. Harif is considered one of hundreds of individuals in Brunei, Taiwan, Japan and Australia who’ve began reserving flights that begin and finish in the identical place. Some airways name these “scenic flights”; others are extra direct, calling them “flights to nowhere.”

Credit…Nadzri Harif

“I didn’t realize how much I’d missed traveling — missed flying — until the moment the captain’s voice came on the speaker with the welcome and safety announcement,” mentioned Mr. Harif of his 85-minute expertise on Royal Brunei Airlines. On its flight to nowhere, which the airline calls the “dine and fly” program, Royal Brunei serves native delicacies to passengers whereas flying over the nation.

At a time when most individuals are caught at house and unable to journey, and the worldwide airline business has been decimated by the pandemic, flights that take off and return to the airport just a few hours later enable airways to maintain workers working. The observe additionally satisfies that itch to journey — even when it’s simply being on a airplane once more. Although most individuals might consider flying as a method to an finish, present solely to get them from one place to the following, some say that it’s an thrilling a part of the journey expertise. For these individuals, flights to nowhere are the salve for a 12 months through which nearly all journey has been canceled and folks have been scared of airways not imposing social distancing and mask-wearing guidelines.

Royal Brunei has run 5 of those flights since mid-August, and since Brunei has had only a few circumstances of the coronavirus, the airline shouldn’t be requiring passengers to put on masks, however workers members are. Earlier within the month, the Taiwanese airline EVA Air crammed all 309 seats on its Hello Kitty-themed A330 Dream jet for Father’s Day in Taiwan, and Japan’s All Nippon Airways had a Hawaiian-resort-themed, 90-minute-flight with 300 individuals on board.

On Thursday, Qantas introduced a flight to nowhere over Australia. That flight sold out in 10 minutes.

“So many of our frequent fliers are used to being on a plane every other week and have been telling us they miss the experience of flying as much as the destinations themselves,” Alan Joyce, the chief executive of Qantas Airlines, said in a statement this week, when that airline announced its seven-hour flight in October that would depart and land in Sydney.

Before the pandemic, Christopher Malby-Tynan, a marketing manager who lives in London, traveled by plane regularly, both for personal and professional reasons. The thought of getting on a flight to nowhere would only be appealing, he said, if it were upscale and did not include the usual hassle of plane travel.

“The concept of going on a flight to nowhere isn’t appetizing if it’s the same rushed cattle-being-thrown-in experience it is when you’re going on a trip,” Mr. Malby-Tynan said. “If it changed and felt like you were going on a spa date or checking into a luxurious hotel, and you were allowed to stretch out, then it would make sense.”

When Nadiah Hamid’s parents forced her to join them on Royal Brunei’s flight to nowhere, she thought the idea of flying above her home was “ridiculous,” she said, but she had a change of heart just a few minutes into the trip because it allowed her to see her home in a new way.

“Normally when you’re flying you don’t really know where you are, so it was nice to have someone contextualize things in our country and in Malaysia, and the views were really beautiful,” Ms. Hamid, 22, said.

Katie Chao, a spokeswoman for the Taiwanese airline Starlux, said that the airline has been working to make the flight-to-nowhere experience a luxurious one by allowing people to buy packages for the flight and a hotel stay.

Since August, the airline has run six flights to nowhere and has about a dozen more scheduled through October. Most of the flights have sold out within 10 minutes of being announced, Ms. Chao said, adding that wearing a mask and social distancing are mandatory on all these flights.

“We try to provide a different and fun event at the boarding gate,” Ms. Chao said. “We also arrange some special decorations in-flight. And, of course, a special-made giveaway to go with the theme each time is a must.”



Source link Nytimes.com

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