Due to the coronavirus outbreak, traveling and flying abroad has become close to impossible. Faced with a crisis, some airlines have come up with a way to cope with this situation while meeting the customer demand. “Flight to nowhere” is a package made by Jeju Air and Asiana Airlines that provides recreation services such as reading passengers’ stories out loud, playing games, doing magic tricks, and giving quizzes on the plane.
Following COVID-19 social distancing protocols, only a limited number of seats were opened to join the package.
This package gained great popularity and all seats were sold out on the first day. From Oct. 23 to 25, the airplane flew above the major cities of Korea and arrived at the Incheon Airport. To provide the most similar experience as flying to a different country, all passengers at Asiana Airlines were given in-flight meals and discount coupons for domestic line flights and duty-free shops.
“These ‘nowhere flights’ were already successful in countries such as Taiwan, Japan and Australia, but there were not many demands in Korea as the domestic flights to Jeju Island were well-provided,” said Kong Deok-jin, a partnership manager at Jeju Air. “Fortunately, this package gained popularity among passengers of all ages in face of the coronavirus. We also gave out limited edition goods and organized flash mob and magic performances to satisfy their needs.”
Regarding some worries about safety, he noted that the airline had strict guidelines before and after getting on the plane. After measuring the temperature and practicing social distancing, each passenger was required to keep their masks on throughout the entire flight. They further explained that they assigned distanced seats and limited food and beverages.
When asked whether Jeju Air will continue to provide these services, Kong responded that this was just a temporary measure to cope with COVID-19.
“Currently, we are organizing duty-free shopping during international flights after discussing with the government authorities,” Kong said. “Other than this, we are also planning wedding flights for newly married couples and entertainment flights in collaboration with broadcasting stations.”
Along with Jeju Air, an official at Hana Tour also explained how they planned ‘Skyline Tour’, the virtual overseas travel package.
“We benchmarked successful cases of flights without destinations in other countries and decided to cooperate with Asiana Airlines,” he said. “Thankfully, they provided the airbus A380, also known as the hotel above the skies due to its great size. The passengers were of various age groups, who missed travelling abroad.”
He added that Hana Tour newly made a safety checklist called ‘safety and joy’ to make sure the passengers can check their own health before they board the plane.
“Because we received more interest than we expected, we were cautious about the safety regulations,” he noted. “This Skyline Tour is distinguishable from the previous travels as it was a chance to focus more on domestic flights. Although we have not yet decided whether or not to provide this service longer, there are possibilities of providing various kinds of flight packages in the future.”
As the ‘flight to nowhere’ was the first tourist flight for ordinary passengers, it showed the potential airplanes have as going beyond the use of transportation and starting to become a place where various events such as weddings and reunions can be held.