Qantas’ ‘Flight to Nowhere’ Tickets Sold Out in 10 Minutes
Pre-pandemic, many of us viewed flying simply as a method of getting from one destination to another as quickly as possible. But amid global restrictions, travelers have been daydreaming not only about far-flung destinations but the flying experience itself — from the thrill of the take-off to the unmatched views of the Earth from the cabin window.
That’s where “flights to nowhere” come in — air travel that takes place simply for the experience of being on the aircraft and not the destination.
This strikes an opportunity for airlines.
In fact, Qantas, the Australian airline, has announced plans for a seven-hour scenic flight that will perform a giant loop in Queensland and the Gold Coast, New South Wales, and the country’s remote outback heartlands.
Proving how popular these now are, a sightseeing flight to nowhere offered by Qantas sold out within 10 minutes, according to the airline, with passengers eager to take to the skies at a time when Australia has grounded almost all international flights paying premium prices.
“It’s probably the fastest selling flight in Qantas history – one seat every four seconds,” the airline’s CEO, Alan Joyce, said in a statement.
“People clearly miss travel and the experience of flying. If the demand is there, we’ll definitely look at doing more of these scenic flights while we all wait for borders to open.”
“That’s one seat every four seconds,” David Flynn, Editor-In-Chief of Executive Traveller commented.
If there’s no destination, what do they do on the ‘Flight to Nowhere’?
From above, keen fliers will be flown across and spot famous Aussie attractions, including Sydney Harbour and the Great Barrier Reef. The jet will do a low flyover over certain landmarks, including Uluru and Bondi Beach. On top of the luscious views, special onboard entertainment will be available, including a surprise celebrity host.
The journey will take place on a Qantas Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft, usually reserved for intercontinental journeys across continents. There are currently very few flights operating to and from Australia due to travel restrictions, and Qantas international fleet has been grounded.
The Dreamliner is renowned for its big windows, making it ideal for sightseeing from 30,000 feet. Flight QF787, due to depart Sydney Domestic Airport on October 10 and return to the Australian metropolis seven hours later, had 134 tickets on sale — spanning business class, premium economy, and economy and costing from AUD$787 to $3,787 (US$566 to $2,734).
Other airlines have hopped on the trend selling their own versions of ‘Flight to Nowhere” tickets.
Across Asia, where most borders remain closed, limiting leisure tourism, there have been several recent flights with no destination.
Qantas’ flight follows on the heels of EVA Air’s Taiwan-based flight to nowhere, which offered a one-off journey on August 8, onboard its Hello Kitty-themed A330 Dream jet.
Meanwhile, All Nippon Airways (ANA) also operated a short scenic flight in Japan in August, which the airline said sought to replicate “the Hawaiian resort experience,” with 300 travellers boarding the 1.5-hour flight.
And on September 19, a scenic flight is due to depart Taipei Airport, offering 120 Taiwanese tourists the opportunity to view South Korea’s Jeju island from the sky.
According to the Korea Tourism Organization’s press release, the journey is an experience in itself, offering an in-flight quiz show and local cuisine.
Singapore Airlines is also reportedly considering operating flights to nowhere from October, according to the local Straits Times newspaper.
A spokesperson for Singapore Airlines told CNN Travel that the airline “is considering several initiatives that would allow us to continue engaging both our customers and members of the public. Currently, none of these plans have been firmed up.”
From an environmental perspective, the proposal of a flight to nowhere is potentially contentious.
But while there might be concerns about unnecessary fuel usage, COVID-19 worries might be mitigated by recent scientific studies that suggest the odds of catching COVID on an airplane are less than you might think, due to the air ventilation systems.
That said, all the airlines are operating their scenic flights with COVID-19 regulations in place.
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