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Not all plans are up in the air during the pandemic

We hear moving stories during the pandemic. And then there are the non-moving ones. If you thought it is the journey that matters not the destination, Singapore Airlines has a non-flight to nowhere. Neither the journey nor the destination matter. ‘Passengers’ come aboard the aircraft (Airbus A 380), have a meal and then go home. This is pandemic creativity.

It is possible that for an additional amount, the airline loses your luggage – just to give you that authentic flying experience. Or you can have that experience by not losing your luggage but fighting with the ground staff all the same.

“Just because I didn’t have any luggage doesn’t mean I can’t lose it,” you say, and a sad, henpecked man with missing teeth sitting behind the counter will tell you, “Sorry, sir, your bags were mistakenly loaded on a later stationary flight, and might have reached Hawaii by now.” It is important to board the right non-moving flight. Especially if you have excess baggage. First class passengers are allowed to board at their convenience, or not board at all if the magazines in the lounge are more interesting. Or maybe I exaggerate.

On Qantas and some other airlines, you can actually fly. But to nowhere in particular. You can buy a ticket for a flight starting in Sydney and landing at the same place. So what, you ask? So this: you don’t get off anywhere in between. Tickets were sold out in ten minutes. Further proof that there is one born every minute. That special flight takes off next week (ticket prices vary from $566 to $2,734). Obviously, as its popularity shows, that is cheap for a seven-hour flight that brings you back where you started.

Airlines have come up with some of the most innovative ideas. If travellers find the flight to nowhere taxing, they can stay at home and order airline meals. There’s even a restaurant that offers only airline meals. That people will pay good money to eat what they often avoid on flights is indication of the extent to which the pandemic has changed our lives. Barf bags come free with every additional meal you order (or if they don’t, they should; authenticity is everything, after all).

Greta Thunberg and her friends may not approve of the Sydney to Sydney non-stop (literally) flight, with tales of carbon footprints and unplanted trees to make the travellers feel guilty. But they can’t take issue with the Singapore to Singapore non-start flight (again, literally) that gives you the travelling experience without your having to actually go through the hassles of travel.

Security checks, I am told, will be conducted only after you leave the aircraft – to ensure you haven’t walked away with the light or bathroom fittings, a food tray or a passing steward. No checks before you enter. But I could be wrong again.

For her next trip, Thunberg will have to take a non-starting ship to counter the effects of the non-starting aircraft on the environment.

(Suresh Menon is Contributing Editor, The Hindu).

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Printable version | Dec 1, 2020 2:50:53 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/columns/not-all-plans-are-up-in-the-air-during-the-pandemic/article32764503.ece

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