| USA TODAY
Final Qantas 747 flight passes over Australian parliament
After a final flight over the Australian capital, Qantas farewelled its fleet of Boeing 747-400 aircraft.
For those who can’t wait to get back to the skies, some airlines have started to offer sightseeing flights that offer all the thrill of air travel without actually going anywhere.
Australian carrier Qantas Airways has offered a flight billed as the Great Southern Land Scenic flight that both takes off from and lands in Sydney.
Taiwan-based EVA Air flew “Hello Kitty” themed flights roundtrip from and to Taipei in August, the Bangkok Post reports. Japan’s ANA offered a brief sightseeing flight from Tokyo in August on the planes it normally uses on the Honolulu run. The airline says 300 passengers “enjoyed a Hawaiian resort experience at the airport and onboard.”
Singapore Airlines is weighing whether to give the concept a go. “Singapore Airlines is considering several initiatives that would allow us to continue engaging both our customers and members of the public. Currently, none of these plans have been firmed up,” said spokesman James Boyd.
Airlines have seen vastly reduced interest in travel from most travelers during the pandemic . The special flights operate on the theory that a carrier’s most loyal customers feel cooped up and are ready to go somewhere — even if it’s not anywhere, really.
Look no further for proof than the Qantas flight scheduled for Oct. 10: Its 134 tickets reportedly sold out in 10 minutes at prices, depending on the class, from $566 to $2,734, CNN reports.
Qantas says those aboard will see such Down Under landmarks as the Great Barrier Reef, the massive sandstone formation Uluru, the Kata Tjuta rock domes, scenic Byron Bay and Sydney Harbor from the windows of their Boeing 787.
More: Qantas Airways expects international travel won’t resume until mid-2021 over coronavirus
“Relax in the sky in Qantas pyjamas” — yes, that’s Aussie for PJs — “as your flight makes its way around the country with a few surprises along the way.”
To those who don’t pay close attention to the details of the promotion, one of those surprises might be that there are no in-flight movies. The airline encourages passengers to bring their own entertainment players. No worries, mate! Being the special flight that it is, lots more is planned.
The airline says there will be a live charity auction of original and limited Qantas 747 memorabilia – the last of the jumbo jets was retired – and a session in a 787 flight simulator. There is also a fancy lunch aboard, a celebrity host and entertainment.
For Americans who dream of the experience but don’t want to actually fly, one California outfit had been offering its own nostalgic flights to nowhere. “The Pan Am Experience” took passengers on flights in the shell of former 747 that’s now used for movie sets.
Alas, even though it never gets in the air, it, too, is grounded due to the pandemic.