Travel-Starved Tourists Are Taking Fake Flights in Taiwan

Taiwan's Songshan International Airport is offering an air travel experience to its travel-starved citizens
Taiwan's Songshan International Airport is offering an air travel experience to its travel-starved citizens | © Mongkol Chuewong / Getty Images
Photo of Cassam Looch
Film Editor6 July 2020

An innovative travel experience is ‘taking off’ in Taiwan, offering eager holiday enthusiasts the chance to enjoy some much-needed wanderlust without actually going anywhere.

Global travel has been off the agenda for the past few months, as governments around the world looked to stem the spread of Covid-19. For most of us, that has meant a growing sense of nostalgia for holiday destinations we hope to visit when things get back to normal, but some people aren’t waiting.

Songshan Airport, in Taipei, has created an entire flight itinerary from check-in and passport control to security protocols and even aircraft boarding before asking customers to get off the plane without even leaving the runway.

Passengers can simulate the entire check-in and boarding process | | © stockstudioX / Getty Images

The boarding process is usually the part of the trip we hate the most, but apparently some people can’t get enough of it. The South China Morning Post reports that more than 7,000 applicants put themselves forward to board the first fake flight from the airport, with a lucky few, picked at random, embarking on their experience in early July.

Passengers get to board an aircraft in real life | | © Wittayayut / Getty Images

Everything about the trip is real: from new hygiene protocols being implemented throughout the airport to the A330 Airbus that sits on the tarmac awaiting guests. Taiwan’s largest carrier, China Airlines, provided the plane and staff to add yet more authenticity to the experience.

The airport has a practical reason for putting on the seemingly elaborate show. With new measures in place to adapt to the challenges of domestic and international travel by air in the era of coronavirus, Songshan Airport is showcasing how people will be able to move safely through its buildings.

You can pretend to ‘take off’ from Songshan International Airport in Taipei | | © Walid Berrazeg / SOPA Images / LightRocket via Getty Images

Although international travel is still not recommended for the residents of Taiwan, internal flights are proving hugely popular. Additional capacity has been added by the major airline carriers, but that hasn’t stopped the fake flights from taking off in popularity either.

More boarding passes are being issued for the grounded flights in the coming weeks, by which time hopefully more flights will actually be taking to the air as well.

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