Water Cooler: ‘Around The World And Back Again’
Has the pandemic given you the travel bug? Are you itching to take a trip to a faraway destination, a nearby place, or anywhere, really, to “escape” the new normal of spending more time at home? For those eager travelers who don’t want to take too much time off work or away from friends and family, or who aren’t fully comfortable with the traveling experience post-pandemic, some airlines are offering an especially unusual service dubbed “flights to nowhere”—and it’s exactly what it sounds like. The best part? You won’t even need to pack a bag.
Unique experiences that have taken flight so far include a three-hour roundtrip sightseeing tour from Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport on Taiwan airline EVA Air. The flight, which retailed for $180 USD, took off on August 8 to commemorate Father’s Day in Taiwan, and was held aboard a Hello Kitty Dream Jet—appropriately adorned on its sides with characters from the children’s cartoon. Guests were treated to a meal made by a three-Michelin-star chef as the plane flew over local landscapes. On October 10, Australian airline Qantas took 150 passengers aboard a seven-hour scenic flight on its Boeing 787 Dreamliner—which has the largest windows of any commercial aircraft—that flew over popular sites, like the Great Barrier Reef. According to The Washington Post, the 134 available seats sold out in just 10 minutes, for prices ranging from $575 to $2,765 USD.
Although the travel alternative has not yet grown particularly popular in the U.S., nearly two-thirds of Americans are interested in the service, according to data from a Harris Poll of 1,971 U.S. adults. Those most interested are Gen X (73 percent), followed by Millennials (69 percent), Baby Boomers (60 percent) and the Silent Generation (46 percent).
According to the poll, most Americans said they would be willing to pay $260, on average, for a “flight to nowhere.” Of the reasons behind their interest, most (53 percent) said, “We all need a moment of escape” and (52 percent) said, “It would feel like a mini-vacation.” Others said, “I need a change of scenery (44 percent), “Satisfy my itch to travel” (38 percent), “I miss flying” (28 percent), “To offset my cabin fever” (22 percent) and “To create a sense of normalcy” (21 percent). Given the current times, these flights are something that particularly hard-hit airlines may benefit from, however, profits are likely to be minimal, writes The Washington Post, and not enough to affect companies’ bottom line. Even so, it provides an opportunity for these companies to continue engaging with, providing for and meeting their customers’ wants and needs in a post-pandemic world.
Danielle Renda is associate editor of PPB.