I thought ‘flights to nowhere’ were silly. Then I went on one.

I thought 'flights to nowhere' were silly. Then I went on one.

Hong Kong (CNN) — I have been on really a couple of flights where by folks clapped when the aircraft landed. But this was the very first time I might been on a airplane the place every person clapped at takeoff.

Hong Kong Categorical, a lower-price carrier centered — as you may possibly have guessed from the title — in Hong Kong, has turn into the hottest airline to supply sightseeing “flights to nowhere,” which require planes landing in the same place they departed from, without having stopping wherever else.
So far, such flights have been well-known. Qantas’ seven-hour sightseeing flights all over Australia, which promised scenic aerial sights of Uluru and the Excellent Barrier Reef, sold out in 10 minutes.

As properly as offering airways a prospect to recoup some misplaced earnings, these flights also manage aviation geeks the likelihood to get again up in the sky, and appreciate some tiny extras.

EVA Air’s special Hello Kitty airplane could not have absent anyplace, but passengers acquired confined-version Hi Kitty swag on board.

Although the notion of these flights to begin with appeared variety of foolish to me — you have to offer with all the headache of airport safety, and then have very little to clearly show for it? — when I found out that a hometown airline was presenting one particular, I just couldn’t resist.

The commute

My favorite way to get to the airport is by using the large-speed express practice that departs from Hong Kong Station.

Like almost everywhere else in the metropolis, the coach station is awash with symptoms reminding men and women to keep their masks on. Even so, I felt daring enough to slip mine off for a bit to consume some water. Mask removal in Hong Kong is currently unlawful, and I felt a slight hint of risk even even though there was no a single about to see me. (Immediately after all, it really is not difficult to socially distance when you are the only man or woman on the platform.)

While a several other stragglers did board at the train’s other stops in Kowloon and Tsing Yi, I experienced an total motor vehicle to myself for the fifty percent-hour journey. I availed myself of both of those the no cost cellular phone chargers and the free Wi-Fi.

The convey practice is normally a pleasurable working experience, but carrying out it with out baggage was a sport changer. Or at minimum a shoulder changer.

Arriving at the airport

Despite the fact that we weren’t leaving Hong Kong airspace, all people on the flight continue to experienced to go by means of usual airport stability processes. That intended pulling my passport out of storage and putting a pair of socks in my purse in case I experienced to take my sandals off.

Temperature screenings have now been a existence at Hong Kong Intercontinental Airport considering the fact that the days of SARS and avian flu, but heightened protocols meant a great deal of absolutely free bottles of hand sanitizer stationed in the course of the terminal and frequent existence of cleansing crew.

It really is a excellent matter there wasn’t considerably of a stability queue, while — at the final moment, I had to pull stuff out of my pockets and get rid of my Kindle from its sleeve. It truly is official: I am out of practice. A calendar year in the past, I would have grumbled rudely at somebody else for carrying out the identical thing proper at the protection scanners.

Most of the shops and places to eat at the airport have been shut, and there were a lot more symptoms inquiring individuals to socially distance than there ended up people today to do the social distancing.

The upside: Loos had been sparkling clear.

The downside: Not becoming on an intercontinental flight intended the obligation-free of charge shop was off limitations.

In the sky

In my function as a journey author and editor, I utilized to fly at least the moment a month. When vacation is your position, it requires some of the glamor absent — each and every stale $12 pastry and loud snorer speedily provides up.

But as the aircraft slowly but surely pulled absent from the gate, I found myself oddly psychological. Instantly, we broke out into spontaneous applause.

A rep from Hong Kong Categorical experienced instructed us that just one of the motivations guiding their flights to nowhere was to remind persons of the magic of journey. 30 seconds into the flight, I by now felt like I was holding my breath. I discovered myself pondering of my late grandmother, who grew up in the course of the Great Melancholy and did not fly on a aircraft for the to start with time till she was in her thirties.

It really is simple to forget that aviation is a miracle.

Normally, I’m a rigorous aisle-seater. But for the 75-minute loop all around Hong Kong, it was all about the window.

It wasn’t just the lack of a closing location that designed this flight unique, while. There was no food or beverage support — less complicated to keep masks on that way — and no luggage. Boarding was spread out, and all center seats blocked off. Far more than just a enjoyment cruise in the sky, it was a peek at what traveling will in all probability appear like as it resumes about the earth.


At current, absolutely everyone coming into Hong Kong is matter to a 14-working day quarantine possibly at their home or an approved hotel.

To make confident that travellers from the Hong Kong Express flight did not get lumped in to the quarantine team, we were being each individual provided shiny purple lanyards to dress in on arrival. It was like quarantine was a vampire and our lanyards had been garlic, but the procedure labored.

While I don’t have jet lag or a stamp in my passport, my trip to nowhere in the long run felt a minimal — just a tiny — like a family vacation.

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