As the pandemic continues to disrupt the travel industry, airlines have started offering new services that consider limitations in the “new normal.” When flying out of the country isn’t an option, passengers can now go on trips with no destination. They’ve been dubbed “flights to nowhere.”
On Sunday, Sept. 13, The Straits Times reported that Singapore Airlines is looking to launch no-destination trips by the end of October as a way to boost the business. Specific details have not been finalized but the package could reportedly include staycation offers, shopping vouchers, and limousine service to ferry customers around the city-state.
The idea has sparked concerns among environmentalists in Singapore. In a statement, environmental activism group SG Climate Rally said the service “encourages carbon-intensive travel for no good reason.”
However, the novelty of riding a plane just to explore the city has also garnered some positive responses. Singapore Air Charter, a company that arranges private flights, conducted a survey with 308 respondents and found that 75 percent were willing to pay for flights to nowhere, The Independent reported. Singapore Air Charter was in talks to partner up with Singapore Airlines on the service, but the latter reportedly expressed interest in going ahead with the plans on its own.
Singapore’s borders have been gradually reopening to allow safe travel in limited numbers. It has also started reopening retail outlets and allowing customers to dine in restaurants. Social gatherings are still limited to groups of up to five people and social distancing measures still apply in public. As of Sept. 17, Singapore had a reported total of 466 active COVID-19 cases.
Singapore Airlines is not the only airline offering flights with no destination.
Australian airline Qantas has also announced the launch of its “Great Southern Land Scenic Flight,” a flight that will depart and land in Sydney on Oct. 10. Qantas’ website promises passengers views of the Gold Coast and the Great Barrier Reef. There will also be a live auction of limited Qantas 747 memorabilia and entertainment by a surprise celebrity host. Qantas told Reuters that the flight sold out in 10 minutes, possibly making it “the fastest-selling flight in Qantas history.”
Last month, 308 passengers embarked a Hello Kitty jet and took in sights of scenery across Taiwan, including Giushan Island, as part of EVA Air’s, Fathers’ Day promo. The flight lasted 2 hours and 45 minutes. There were Hello Kitty merchandise and chirashi rice sets designed by Michelin-starred chef Motoke Nakamura, Today Online reported.
In Thailand, an out of service aircraft has also been turned into a cafe. Simulating a typical planes’ environment while on the ground, customers can sip coffee while pretending to fly to their dream destination.
As the coronavirus continues to spread, global travel restrictions likely won’t be lifted anytime soon. In May, the International Air Transport Association predicted that international travel will not resume until 2023.