I initially thought this was satire

The pandemic has cut deeply into the airline business and they are seeking to lure people back. Surely one of the most bizarre attempts is offering people the opportunity to buy tickets to fly to nowhere, i.e. where the plane takes off, flies around for a few hours, and then returns to the airport.

Singapore Airlines (SIA) is looking to launch no-destination flights that will depart from and land in Changi Airport next month, in a bid to give its ailing business a lift.

Sources told The Straits Times that the national carrier is working towards launching this option for domestic passengers – dubbed “flights to nowhere” – by end-October.

Each flight is expected to take about three hours.

A survey of 308 people that his firm conducted found 75 per cent were willing to pay for flights to nowhere.

The most popular price that respondents were willing to pay for an economy class seat was $288, with 45 per cent of respondents saying they were willing to do so. Meanwhile, 40 per cent said they were willing to pay $588 for a business class seat.

When I first read it, I thought it must be satire from The Onion or some similar source but it is from the Straits Times which is a major newspaper and the story has appeared in other media outlets too..

I absolutely detest the whole flying experience because it is so unpleasant from start to finish. The only reason that I get on a plane is because I have no other way of getting to my destination. The idea of just flying around for a few hours and then returning to the starting point strikes me as absurd and I am incredulous that there are people willing to pay to do so. But they have only said so in response to a survey. Let’s see if they are willing to pony up when the due date arrives.

As they say, it takes all sorts to make the world.


  1. says

    The airlines could largely go out of business and it’d reduce the masssive carbon footprint. This is a perfect example of how capitalism will continue to drive life to extinction.

  2. komarov says

    Chigau, I wouldn’t. Flying and “the airport experience” -- everything from security to the crowds and the typical duty-free-infested building itself, all usually experienced with senses already dulled by jetlag -- would be deterrent enough even without a pandemic. And there’s a slight conflict between “travelling nowhere” and my attitude that “travel time is wasted time”.

    Marcus, to add insult to, well, injurious insult, fuel and commercial airline travel in general are usually subsidised wherever you go (or don’t go), so that makes it both a waste and and attempt to pick public (and private) pockets. While I’m not sure about this airline or Singapore in general, a lot of European airlines, like all businesses, have naturally been clamouring for and benefitting from bail-outs and support funds. Because even the biggest carriers can’t be asked expected to maintain an emergency fund.

    But if the in-flight experience is that important to some, that could easily be simulated: Get a used drinks trolley off of ebay and roll it through the airport selling miniature drinks at 50$ a piece. It’s cheaper, greener and about as comfortable as actually flying, given that airports seem to have next to no seating outside the gates, forcing people to sit on floors or windowsills.

  3. Holms says

    I absolutely detest the whole flying experience because ti is so unpleasant from start to finish.

    Whaaaat? This is very strange to me, I have enjoyed every flight I’ve been on. Not the airport experience, though even there I merely found that to be boring rather than burdensome. Though it is possible that this is due to Australian domestic flights not having much security theatre.

  4. John Morales says

    Holms, if you enjoy getting there 45 minutes early, sitting around until you get to queue up, queuing up, sitting in a tiny seat after fighting for room in the overhead locker, all the time surrounded by people with their noxious effusions and (usually) a screaming babe or two, then sure, it’s enjoyable.

    Of course, I’ve always travelled economy class; perhaps you belong to the rich club that gets priority boarding and free drinks in the lounge while waiting, and first-class seating and service during the flight. I wouldn’t know — though I once (on a transcontinental flight) actually went to the first class toilet and wondered at the super-luxurious soaps, perfumes, towelling and general roominess of the facility.

    Ah well. I’m with chigau, here. I’d want to get paid, say, A$30 per hour of enduring that.

  5. John Morales says

    And if by “Australian domestic flights not having much security theatre” you mean having to empty my backpack and being scanned for explosives and/or metal, then your baseline is way off. Perhaps I just look sus, but I’ve been taken aside for further examination for around 25% of my trips interstate.

    (I note it was kinda embarrassing to have to explain that the plastic bag contained my used underwear and socks, on return from my second-to-last trip. Not to mention the time I spent like 10 minutes explaining what squash balls were, though they were used and I said just put them in the bin if they’re that much hassle)

  6. says

    Taiwan has something similar, but there’s no wasted fuel. The planes don’t even start up.


    People here are so badly craving travel that the outer islands (Penghu, Green Island, Kinmen) have twice the usual number of tourists, even with no international flights. Hotels and hostels are so booked that there’s nothing available for Chinese New Year in February and beyond.

  7. Holms says

    Holms, if you enjoy getting there 45 minutes early, sitting around until you get to queue up, queuing up,

    See my “Not the airport experience, though even there I merely found that to be boring rather than burdensome.”

  8. John Morales says

    Related: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-09-18/qantas-flight-to-nowhere-sells-out-in-10-minutes/12676570

    The airline [Qantas], which has bled almost $2 billion since the pandemic began, will run a “Great Southern Land” joy flight which will depart and arrive in Sydney.

    Passengers have been promised great views of Australian icons like the Great Barrier Reef and Uluru, which are off limits to many people due to border closures.


    Economy tickets were priced at $787, premium economy at $1,787 and business class was $3,787 but still the flight sold out in under 10 minutes yesterday.

    “We knew this flight would be popular, but we didn’t expect it to sell out in 10 minutes,” a Qantas spokesperson said.

    (notably, “business class” (!) being nearly 5x more expensive than ‘cattle class’)

  9. John Morales says

    [PS I imagine a number of people thought they’d cash in some of their “frequent flyer” points while they had some worth]

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