Missing Flying? Flights to Nowhere Take Off As a New Travel Trend

Vacation planned? Check. Packed bag? Check. Spending multiple hours on an airplane to your destination? Eh. For many travelers, boarding an aircraft and spending long periods of time in flight would not top the list of favorite things about a vacation. In fact, The National Institute of Mental Health reports that between 2.5 and 6.5 percent of the population in the United States struggles with aviophobia — a severe fear of flying.

Studies have found that 40 percent of the general population report some fear about flying. Getty/Bruce Bennett

But as people around the world are beginning to test the waters of traveling again, some airlines are exploring alternative flight routes, so to speak.

"Flights to Nowhere" is a way that some international airlines are giving passengers, who might be missing the roar of a plane's engine, a way to fly without actually touching down in a new location.

"I think a lot of them sound really interesting," Ben Mutzabaugh, Senior Airlines Editor at The Points Guy tells Newsweek. "But the options for Americans are pretty limited since most of these so-called 'flights to nowhere' are in countries with travel restrictions that affect U.S. visitors."

For the second time since August, we treated some lucky guests to a local sightseeing flight aboard our Flying Honu 🐢
Passengers received a safe and fun resort experience onboard, including Hawaiian-themed drinks! 🍹 pic.twitter.com/Qdhpp0rw9b

— @FlyANA_official (@FlyANA_official) October 2, 2020

EVA Air — an airline based out of Taiwan, made headlines in August when they announced a flight to nowhere in celebration of Father's Day that departed and landed from the Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport on August 8. Passengers were treated to a Michelin-star meal aboard the 3-hour flight on the Hello Kitty Dream Jet.

Other airlines in Asia have followed suit such as All Nippon Airways which operated a 1.5 hour flight out of the Narita International Airport in Japan and plans another. Qantas Airlines, which is based in Australia is the next provider to try out this new fad. Taking flight on October 10, the "Great Southern Land" scenic flight will take passengers over sites from the Great Barrier Reef to the Sydney Harbor. For seven hours, 150 guests can sit back and take in the sights from the windows of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner—which has the largest windows of any commercial aircraft.

Sydney Harbor
The "Great Southern Land" scenic flight will take passengers over sites from the Great Barrier Reef to the Sydney Harbor. James D. Morgan

This is not the first time Qantas has offered a flight to nowhere experience. Even before COVID-19, the company Antarctica Flights, chartered Qantas' planes to offer a 12-hour scenic flight over Antarctica, Business Insider reports. November 22 is the first scheduled flight of this year, with more flights scheduled through 2021.

The aircraft used for Qantas' upcoming Flight to Nowhere over Australia. Courtesy of Qantas

In early September there were reports that Singapore Airlines was planning a similar flight to nowhere, though recently decided against it. Instead, the airline is offering other options for those missing in-flight experiences.

At the end of October, passengers will have the opportunity to board the Airbus A380 to enjoy a unique dining experience. There will be special menus designed for each cabin class with international dishes inspired by the destinations the airline would typically travel to as well as selections from the airline's Peranakan menu, which is designed by Singaporean chef, Shermay Lee. Reservations can be made starting on October 12 with prices ranging from S$50-S$600.

Singapore Airlines constantly win awards for being one of the best airlines in the world. In part because of their dining program. The airline has a panel of chefs from around the world — from Italy to Australia — that help to curate the menu.

"While airline food isn't normally a draw," Mutzabaugh tells Newsweek. "Singapore is renowned for offering some of the best food in the air."

Singapore Airlines
Singapore Airlines is offering customers the chance to partake in an in-flight experience without ever leaving the ground. Courtesy of Singapore Airlines

If this unique itinerary sounds interesting to you, Mutzabaugh says it's best to take advantage of the offers while they last as he does not anticipate it becoming a widespread trend and some of the ones that have been offered have sold out in minutes.

"I don't think this will be a new trend. Instead, it's really the airline industry looking to make lemonade out of the lemon of a year that 2020 has been," Mutzabaugh said.