Since the Summer of 2020, a growing number of airlines, particularly in East Asia have conducted or are planning flights to nowhere. These are flights that takeoff and land at the same airport. Some “flights” to nowhere don’t even takeoff. These flights are a way for people to get their flying fix when the pandemic has closed a lot of international borders. Flights to nowhere also give underutilized airline employees something to do and earn a tiny amount of revenue for the airline.

Some of the airlines participating in this fad include Taiwan-based EVA Air and Starlux, Australia’s Qantas, Japan’s All Nippon Airways, Hong Kong Express, Singapore Airlines (ground based), and Air India, A seven-hour sightseeing flight with Qantas that took off and landed at Sydney Domestic Airport sold out in just 10 minutes, with tickets ranging from $566 to $2,374. 

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Korean Air 747-8 upper deck

The Republic of Korea (South Korea) seems to be a hotbed for these flights. Asiana Airlines, Air Busan and Jeju Air have all run flights to nowhere. Recently, Korean Air, one of my favorite airlines, received permission to conduct a sightseeing flight of its own. That flight might fly over Japan as well as some of the scenic areas in South Korea.

I haven’t flown since March 2020 and dearly miss the experience of flying and traveling. Even so, a flight to nowhere isn’t something I would sign up for at this point. Covid is still out of control in the U.S., and while thanks to hospital-grade HEPA air filters, being on an airplane is likely one of the safer public spaces, flying still requires getting to and through the airport and other situations where social distancing is not going to happen.

Asiana Airlines A380-800 first class

For me, food and beverages (yes, I usually like airplane food) are one of the nicest parts of flying. But most flights to nowhere don’t offer much because eating and drinking is probably the most dangerous activity on a plane from a Covid standpoint.

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Japan Airlines business class lunch

Seating would also be an issue because the only thing to do would be admiring he views from 35,000 ft. I wouldn’t want someone leaning over me, or vice versa, to look out the window.

Last but not least is the environmental impact. I think the knowledge and understanding people gain by visiting far away places outweighs the negative environmental effects of air travel. The world would be a better place if more people did so, and airlines are working hard to reduce their environmental impact.

Qantas A380-800 economy class

But getting on a commercial airliner for a trip around the block may not have much in the way of redeeming value. Now if it was a case of a flight to nowhere or not flying at all for years, I would be tempted. I don’t know if airiness offering flights to nowhere offer passengers a way to “offset” the environmental impact. Even if they did, I’m not sure the offset actually works.

What do you think about flights to nowhere?