Please sign in to post.

Flights To Nowhere?

OK, I get that most of us are frustrated with not being able to jump on a plane and go (nearly) anywhere we want. But several airlines, mostly in Asia, have started doing flights to literally nowhere: you buy a ticket at the same price a similar length flight would cost, go through the same old airport experience, get on the plane, sit in the same old crowded seats, fly around in circles for anywhere from 2 to 7 hours, and land back at the same airport. And the flights are selling out! Why? While the plane ride is part of travel for most of us these days, it is not the part I miss. At least you don't have to check a bag.

The reasons the airline wants to do this make perfect sense. The pilots and flight attendants have to fly so many hours on flights with passengers within specific time frames to maintain their certifications. If the airline can sell enough seats at a high enough price to cover the cost of the crew, fuel, and other fixed costs, maybe leaving some small amount as profit, then great for them. Also, properly sidelining a plane for an extended period of time is not an easy thing to do. Fuel and other fluids have to be removed and replaced with other fluids that will prevent the various moving parts from gumming up or dry rotting. And of course there is the need for space to store the planes until they are needed again. If they are in the air, this problem goes away as they are being properly maintained and can be used for a normal flight at any time.

But I just can't understand what the desire is to just ride a plane. Can anyone?

Posted by
6535 posts

I think part of the sell is to see some stunning natural phenomena from the air, such as the Australian Great Barrier Reef. I am not sure whether such a trip is best done by a giant commercial liner, or whether such an option gives everyone on board more or less equal visibility no matter where they sit. I don't doubt that seeing some things from the air is truly amazing (I love the Rockies and the SW) but you can also pick up a great book to see the same (there are books dedicated to just that), minus all the pollution. I have to admit I'd love to see a lot of South America, including the Amazon and glaciers that are slowly disappearing, from the air, but not at 30k feet. Smaller planes would be even more loud and disruptive and polluting, though (on a per capita basis).

Posted by
18111 posts

I can't imagine paying for such a flight, either, but credit to the airlines for figuring out how to get some revenue from what appears to be a necessity.

Posted by
3665 posts

I read about similar a few weeks ago. I clearly missed the part outlining the value to maintaining certifications. Makes sense, but I would have thought reduced fares would have been the better option.
I have always been interested in seeing the African Rift Valley - that runs from The Red Sea and to the Mozambique coast - by air, but I would want a small plane for seeing Mother Nature's wonders. If only choice was a big airline or a book - I might take the the book.

Posted by
2496 posts

To add to Agnes’ thoughts, I took “a flight to nowhere” in 1986. It did have a purpose. I was invited to take a chartered flight to California to see Halley’s Comet. We flew from Seattle at about 11 pm and flew around the Bay Area for the amazing view of the Comet. We returned to SeaTac the next morning. It was a trip of a lifetime that I will never forget. It was an honor.

Back story: A former colleague of mine is married to a fellow who was one of the Teacher’s in Space candidates. Unfortunately, a few months earlier the crew of the Challenger perished. Tragic. It had been planned for the crew to see Halley’s Comet from space.

Posted by
3444 posts

Well, maybe "nowhere important". :-)

And I did do a flight to nowhere once, just not on purpose. Back when Continental airlines was still a thing they flew from Johnson Space Center Airport (EFD) in South Houston to IAH in North Houston as a favor to the astronauts. Anyone could get on those flights too for free if you were connecting out of IAH. Many benefits if you worked in the area including not having to drive the 50 - 60 miles to the big airport. One time I did that and there ended up being a thunderstorm between the two airports. For some reason the plane could not go over the clouds (think it wasn't pressurized) so we did circles for 3 hours and landed back at EFD. It is normally a 10 minute flight! They put us all on city buses and drove us there. Needless to say, I missed my connection. Continental was nice enough to refund my ticket and put me in a cab back to EFD so I could get my car.

Posted by
146 posts

To answer from the great south land. We are a bloody weird mob. I will expand.

Flights of around 13 hours to nowhere have been a regular thing over summer. From Sydney, Brisbane, Adelaide, Perth and return to departure point. Well only if you think Antarctica is nowhere. Have been taking to the air since the mid 1990’s using 747’s. My father and mother did 2 from Perth around 2000. Have not heard about them? No need to advertise outside Australia.

Sounds boring? At 13,000 metres? Well if conditions are right normally flight height over the continent is around 3,000 metres and down to 300 metres for interesting places. That is landing glide path approach height.

I have not done it yet as I enjoy my other summertime activities with my children and grandchildren. Surfing, sailing, fishing and generally enjoying a beer or three and being lazy. Maybe this year. Bookings are available.

There are YouTube postings and other articles by those who have been lucky to take the Antarctic experience.

The flight sale that generated the article sold out in 10mins. I was too busy with a proposal for exporting food products into China. Missed it. Could not have gone anyway, cannot fly out of Hobart for leisure. The flight is out of Sydney.

Fair criticism about environmental effects. Perhaps balanced against mental health of citizens in Sydney who have done the right thing and minimised, nearly eradicated community transmission of covid and at present, cannot leave the country, or state for leisure.

Yes, a rather funny thing to do. A truly bloody weird mob.

Stay safe. Bring on summer.


Posted by
3500 posts

Everything old is new again. At the start of the passenger jet age, around 1960, Air Canada occasionally flew from Toronto over Niagara Falls and back to Toronto. Today that would be barely enough time to play the safety instructions. It was a way to persuade potential customers to try out this new and intimidating machine.
Anyhow, today's news says Singapore has cancelled its much longer flights-to-nowhere.

Posted by
2393 posts

Would not get on a plane on a bet now. This makes even less sense.

Posted by
20961 posts

I don't think I would do a flight to nowhere in coach but might consider a cruise to nowhere. Cabin fever is slowing increasing especially after watching the debate. Just want to go somewhere, anywhere !!!!

PS Mark, you have been soon-to-Houston for over a year. How soon is soon?

Posted by
10344 posts

Why would somebody do this?
Maybe if you're a trust fundinista or other-wise wealthy, and you're terminally bored with the covid protocols, and not real worried about covid, then you would do it out of boredom?
I mean, flying is such an unpleasant or stressful part of the travel experience; it's what you have to do to get to Europe.
If that's not enough reasons not to do this, then at least presumably not before a vaccine is available, otherwise, before an effective vaccine, anyone over the age of about 60 is risking severe future health impairments, or death, of themselves or loved ones--all to be on a flight to nowhere??

Posted by
20961 posts

Today there are many more unexplained, non-rational, things than 8 months ago. Even the sane people are beginning to crack. Let me out !!!!!!! I promise to be good !!

Posted by
1160 posts

Just silly and reckless. Does anyone enjoy the airport and flying experience? I love to travel but the to and from makes me really grumpy.

Posted by
146 posts

@ Mark Friday 11am

No one wants to answer your question. I for one enjoy the flying experience. Maybe because I have not had a bad experience with the flying Kangaroo, BA, Asian, or Middle Eastern Airlines.

I was privilege to be invited on to the flight deck of a Concorde, to chat with the Captain, First Officer and Flight Engineer. Super calm and in complete control at Mach 2, 2,150 km/h. I guess easy-peasy after flying a Vulcan (RR Vulcan engines were developed to power the Concorde) over the Falklands and engaging in combat with a Mirage in a Harrier over the Falklands. Not the most spacious cabin I experienced. Have been hooked ever since. Prior to 2000, managed to get invites into QF 747 flight decks. At one time there was a pilot strike, and the RAAF Hercules were used to fly some routes on the east coast. No soft seats, or food, just water, no discounted fares. The pilots invited every passage to spend time on the flight deck. A relief from the hard seats. The small children were jumping out of their skins and on an all-time high.

I do have empathy for those who do not enjoy. My wife is one, insists on business class on long haul flights. I usually get a script for diazepam to carry to calm her down. On our last flight home from Brussels, I had two scripted vials of liquid morphine. Early into the flight I administered a dose, calmed her right down and induced sleep. I had previously told Thai Airlines what the story was. Some of the other passengers had worried looks as if they were witnessing a murder at 13,000 metres.

Some others who enjoy flying: ,, ,

All the others who claim to enjoy flying are probably on drugs.

Anyhow, that is some of my experiences that have built up my enjoyment of flying. I am part of a weird mob. I in no way criticise or condemn those with other feelings or experiences.

Mark your posting caused discussion between my sons and I about the Antarctic flights. Full bar service, meals, and it looks like no bloody masks. We are contemplating new years eve. Probably miss the Sydney fireworks celebrating Australia’s founding and the break from the UK on 1st January 1901. Then again technology should be able to have the transmission beamed on board.

This is a domestic flight, and sorry but it seems that aliens and foreigners will be unable to enter Australia until after March next year. Hopefully, reciprocal arrangements with our Kiwi cousins will start in time for Christmas.

After our Emirates flights to Europe were cancelled, we had considered Tahiti, as July transmission of covid has been eradicated. The administrators opened and imported covid right back in. Too nervous to go there now. How nervous? As nervous as a virgin in a whorehouse, or is that the Whitehouse?

The business and professional associations I am a member of have been providing virtual seminars focusing on mental health. My takeaway has been: do not take yourself too seriously, try and see if possible, the humour in the things. Anger is the most useless emotional response.

On Wednesday watched the debate over lunch with a couple of colleagues. We concluded 3 white septuagenarians in confusion. Moe was attempting beat up Larry, who was giving back as good as he got. Curly was trying to sort them both out. Actually, we have no idea what Curly was doing. We decided to buy more gold mining shares. Later caught two classy New Zealand ladies having a debate over an upcoming election. Maybe young ladies are better at this than old men.

Stay safe. If safe give someone close to you a big hug and tell them, you love them.

Regards Ron

Posted by
1669 posts

Diane, we're in agreement. The getting to and from the airport, the airport "experience" lol, and flying are not highlights of my trips.