Remember the time when we used to plan impromptu road trips with friends. Or when flight tickets were booked a night before in a whim. How life has changed in last few months!
While we have seen people experimenting with a lot of new things and also taking solace in some of their old hobbies, there are few activities that still involve a lot of thought and planning in this post pandemic world. Who knew taking a flight would be so hard? Flying was simply a method of getting from one destination to another as quickly as possible. Today however, amid all the restrictions people are not only dreaming about travelling to beautiful locations, but the flying experience as well. And keeping that in mind Qantas Airways launched a flight to nowhere.
Taking the quote “Sometimes the journey is more beautiful than the destination” very seriously, Qantas Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft which is usually reserved for long international trips will carry people around Australia to give a unique flying experience. The aircraft will depart Sydney Domestic Airport on October 10 and return to the same airport seven hours later without landing anywhere in between.
The airline put 134 tickets on sale for this “Flight to Nowhere” that included business class, premium economy and economy and costing from AUD$787 to $3,787. It was uncertain just how well the tickets would sell, but ten minutes after the offer went live, all the tickets had sold. This was probably the fastest selling flight in Qantas history, and definitely one of the fastest selling flights till date.
Dubbed the “Great Southern Land’ scenic flight”, the airline promises passengers picturesque views and low level flybys over different Australian destinations. The seven-hour scenic flight will perform a giant loop taking in Queensland and the Gold Coast, New South Wales and the country’s remote outback heartlands. From above, you would be able to 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. Apart from the sights, there are on-board activities and entertainment. The airline has also invited a celebrity host. It feels as if they didn’t want to leave any stone unturned. I wonder if the person who gave the idea of this flight is promoted already. No one would have imagined that the sale would happen like a lightning bolt round.
This record breaking sale has raised many questions in our mind. What is it about flying that people are missing so much? Is it just about the freedom to move out of your house? The pandemic has forced us to go into isolation, and the more we are cooped up into our homes, the more we crave the outside world. Also as a social being, the idea of flying with a group of people, looking outside to some amazing sights and participating in some cool activities sounds exciting.
On one hand, people are clearly excited with this flight but it has also received criticism from the environmentalists. The climate campaigners are mad at the airline saying that the carbon emissions from the experience would be fully offset. Without any real purpose, this flight is just a joy ride and that’s why receiving the backlash. We have to also understand that this is not just a onetime thing. Where there is demand, there would be supply. Qantas Airways has already said that there would be more scenic flights till the border opens. Singapore Airlines is said to be actively considering its own “flight to nowhere” with scenic flights from and to Changi Airport that will last around three hours. Taiwan’s Eva Air has already operated one “Hello Kitty” themed flight to nowhere and two more sightseeing flights are planned in October. Tigerair Taiwan and China Airlines have also operated such flights, along with the Japanese carrier ANA.
So the question remains “Are the scenic flights the new source of entertainment?” For now, it looks like these flights will be catering to the rich crowd, but how long till it penetrates into the middle class society as well? Remember the initial lockdown months, when the internet was full of images ranging from ducks in Venice to the visible Himalayan peaks from Punjab. And while we rejoiced in the fact that mother Earth was healing, don’t you think that the scenic flights are cancelling out the positive affects we saw during this pandemic. Tell me, would you want to go on a “Flight to Nowhere?”