Six months into this stuck-at-home era, who isn’t feeling more than a little antsy? Well, if like me, you’ve got that urge to get up and go, take heart! I may have found the perfect pandemic travel solution. Two, in fact.
Then, again … Maybe I haven’t.
Get Up and Go … Where?
Several overseas airlines now offer “dine and fly” “scenic” flights. More accurately they’re offering “flights to nowhere,” trips that take off from a home designation, and a few hours later land in the exact same place!
In between take-off and landing, the flights provide fancy meals and “fun” theme-based activities.
For example, Taiwanese airline EVA filled all 309 seats of a Father’s Day flight with a Hello Kitty-themed “excursion. I for one cannot picture my tough-talking, cigar-smoking father relating to a Hello Kitty party, but maybe it’s a cultural, generational thing …
Meanwhile, Japan’s All Nippon Airways scored a hit with a Hawaiian-resort-themed, 90-minute-flight. My father did like Macadamia nuts, so, who knows? That might have appealed.
Birthdays onboard are celebrated with cakes and decorations. Frequent flyer miles are also honored.
And the demand for “nowhere” flights is growing. Just last week, Australia’s Qantas Airline announced its entry into the market, and the first flight sold out in 10 minutes.
And Going “Nowhere” Will Cost You
Who exactly is interested in these flights? Well, obviously people with spare time and plenty of spare cash. Because the privilege of going nowhere doesn’t come cheap.
To hop aboard Qantas costs between $575 and $2,765. The flight takes travelers around Australia, flying over the Northern Territory, Queensland, and New South Wales.
And the reasons why people sign up for these fights are a bit ethereal. Quoted in the New York Times, Bangalore-based travel agent Loveleen Arun, who designs luxury trips mostly for Indian travelers, explained it this way:
“One of my clients said just a few days ago, ‘All I want is to be in a window seat and see clouds go by. I miss that sight. I just want white fluffy clouds!’”
The Environment Be Damned
Understandably environmentalists are upset about this just-for-the heck-of-it production of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. But that isn’t stopping the airlines nor apparently well-heeled, bored air travelers desperate to travel somewhere, even if it is nowhere!
Get Up and Go Plan B
Now, for those of us lacking in fat wallets, but still thirsting for that air travel “thrill,” there’s a second, albeit decidedly down-scale option: a video game.
The game, designed by New York-based game developer Hosoji Auji, claims to be “the most realistic flight simulation ever created.”
According to a press release issued by AMC Games, the game’s publisher, Airplane Mode is “the only flight simulation game where players can experience the intense excitement of being an economy class passenger on a long-haul flight.”
This is Somebody’s Idea of Fun?
To this, I query, “the intense excitement” of sitting in economy class? The only excitement I can think of is betting what hour my legs will seize up in unbearable cramps and how loud I will scream in pain!
There are no dramatic or heroic plot twists to the simulation — unless you consider surviving the crying baby ordeal as an act of heroism (which, of course, it is).
Unfortunately, if the idea of “playing” this game is appealing, you’ll have to wait. The game won’t be released until later this year.
Meanwhile, there’s a trailer available for viewing. It, of course, features one of those great “delights” of air travel — you know, that moment you get engrossed in a movie and the pilot interrupts over the PA system with some lengthy, unintelligible announcement.
Although you might think the game has its genesis in our pandemic-grounded times, it’s apparently been in the works since 2017.
There are two flight simulations available, a six-hour journey from New York’s JFK Airport to Reykjavik, and a shorter 2.5-hour flight from New York to Halifax, Canada.
No word on the price yet, but the game will be available on PC and Mac computers. (And please note, family members: I do not want one for Christmas or Hannukah. Thanks, but no thanks!)
True Confessions of a Middle-Aged Muddler
Although I do have a yen to see something beside my own four walls and the view of the Golden Gate Bridge from my house (fog and wildfire smoke permitting), I have two confessions to make about air travel.
I’m afraid of flying. So, this forced pandemic reprieve from air travel has been a blessing in disguise. Don’t get me wrong. I love “being” in new places. I just hate “getting” to them. I’m the original white-knuckled traveler. Handsome Hubby hates sitting next to me on a plane. He collects more bruises than a prizefighter in a championship bout from all the times I grip his arm because of air turbulence.
This time of no (or at least reduced) air travel has also meant that HH has had a break from his own relentless work trips across the country and abroad. So, even though he’s still working non-stop, at least he’s not traveling non-stop. That’s been lovely.
Therefore, the idea of jumping on a plane for a “flight to nowhere” “just for fun” is beyond comprehension to me. Yet, I suppose to each his/her own. Fly and let fly.
Meanwhile, dear family, if you are thinking about holiday gifts for me, please don’t let my fear of flying deter you. I am still dreaming of that trip to Morocco and the Netherlands. Who knows when we can go, but it’s not too early to resume the trip planning. I’m just saying. And I’m not talking about some video game version either!
Future “Flights” of Fantasy
Finally, speaking of video games, if somehow that pretend you’re on a long-haul flight game becomes popular, who knows what other new quirky “ordeal” games will follow? “Rooting for Root Canal?” or perhaps “Childbirth for Newlyweds and Reckless Teens” where players can experience the thrills and chills of labor and delivery; make split-second decisions about natural childbirth vs. epidurals, and answer thought-provoking questions like “What was I thinking when I said I’ll love you forever?” The video game possibilities are endless!