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‘Flight to nowhere’ set up in Taiwan for travel-starved customers

Taiwan has been in travel lockdown since March. Now would-be tourists can take an international flight that never gets off the ground.


Image via Adobe Stock

If you’re of a certain vintage you may remember a song by rock band Talking Heads called Road to Nowhere that reached number six on the South African music charts in 1985. Now an airport in travel-starved Taiwan, which is still not allowing travel in or out of the Asian country, has gone a step further and introduced a travel experience that includes a “flight to nowhere”.

You can get your boarding pass, go through all of the usual travel procedures plus the new COVID-19 health checks required for air travel, climb aboard the aircraft, receive a briefing from the flight crew… and then go nowhere.

Flight idea is a big hit with travel-starved Taiwanese

It may seem a little bizarre, but apparently the idea is proving a big hit with the Taiwanese, who appear to be missing the opportunity to get off their tiny island in the South China Sea.

Granted, part of the appeal may be that you don’t need to pay for the experience. All the costs are being met by airport and airline authorities as part of a marketing strategy to promote extensive upgrades to the Taipei Songshan Airport. These were sensibly done during lockdown while the airport was not in use.

Airport’s social media team floated the original idea

In early June the airport’s social media team floated the idea of a “pretend to go abroad” half-day tour that included the full airport travel experience, apart from actually taking off to another destination.

They were surprised when there were 7,000 initial takers for the idea. Given that each tour can only accept 60 people at a time, it was decided to run a lottery so that lucky winners could be selected. Two of the country’s biggest airlines, China Air and Eva Air, are also participating.

The first group of “passengers” enjoyed their odd flight experience last week and more such tours are planned, given their popularity.

Welcome aboard our flight… now get off please

According to Britain’s Daily Telegraph newspaper, the group went through check in, passport control and security.  

After showing their boarding passes at the boarding gate, the 60 “passengers” sat for 15 minutes on a grounded Airbus A330 owned by China Airlines, chatting with flight attendants before disembarking again.

They were also given the freedom to explore parts of the terminal, eat snacks at one of the airport’s restaurants and shop in the duty-free store.

“I really want to leave the country, but because of the epidemic lots of flights can’t fly,” said Hsiao Chun-wei, 38, who attended the first event with her young son.