The collapse in demand for air travel means airlines around the world are having to think outside the box in order to keep some revenue coming in. Some of them think they’ve hit on some good ideas to do just that…
Singapore Airlines ditches sightseeing flights, but opens a restaurant in an A380
Singapore Airlines was one of the airlines considering so-called “flights to nowhere” - basically sightseeing flights that take off and land at the same airport.
That idea has now been dropped - perhaps due to environmental considerations - and the airline has today released details of three alternative initiatives for aviation fans based in Lion City, going under the banner ‘Discover Your Singapore Airlines’.
The first idea is Restaurant A380@Changi which, as the name suggests, offers a dining experience inside the world’s largest passenger aircraft. There are different menus for each cabin class (including the super luxe Suites) with dishes from a special Peranakan menu designed by acclaimed Singaporean chef Shermay Lee.
To complete the experience, sommeliers will recommend “fine wines” to accompany the meals. Diners will receive two complimentary alcoholic drinks and unlimited soft beverages.
In-flight entertainment will be switched on, meaning you can take your pick from over 1,000 movies, TV shows and music selections.
Reservations start on October 12, 2020, with Restaurant A380 @Changi in operation on October 24 and 25, 2020.
Over two weekends in November (during the school holidays), SQ promises behind-the-scenes access with its Inside Singapore Airlines days, offering tours and activities for the entire family.
Participants will find out about the airline’s 70-year history, mingle with pilots and cabin crew, and operate a full flight simulator. Other activities include a waste tasting of the labels served on board and a grooming workshop (which covers the exacting standards of presentation that SQ famously requires of its ‘Singapore Girls’).
The third initiative, SIA@Home, is for the airline's die-hard fans who want to experience the airline’s in-flight dining experience in the comfort of their own home. Plane food doesn’t have the best reputation - then again SQ’s catering is a step above the standard “chicken or fish” fare (at least in the premium cabins).
10 menus featuring first class and business class meals are on offer, complete with wine or champagne. Limited edition dining ware and amenities are also available depending on the package chosen.
As well as the food, customers will receive a first class or business class amenity kit, a welcome video, guides on how to heat and plate the dishes, as well as a specially curated playlist “to recreate the SIA onboard experience at home”.
If that’s not enough, you can buy the airline’s Wedgwood and Narumi dining ware, Lalique crystal glasses and first class Lalique sleeper suits to complete your experience.
Singapore Airlines’ chief executive officer Goh Choon Phong, says:
“With Covid-19 drastically reducing the number of flights operated by the SIA Group, we have created unique activities that would allow us to engage with our fans and customers during this time. These experiences offer something for everyone – from frequent flyers who miss our world-class in-cabin products and service, to couples and families who want an exclusive dining experience, and parents who are after an enjoyable activity-filled day with their children during the school holidays.”
More information on the Discover Your Singapore Airlines experiences can be found on the Singapore Airlines website while all three experiences will be exclusively available for booking via the KrisShop website (KrisFlyer members can redeem their miles to pay for these experiences, or earn miles on their purchases).
As you would expect, SQ says it will implement enhanced cleaning procedures at all premises, as well as precautionary measures such as temperature screening, safe distancing and a SafeEntry digital check-in system, to ensure the health and safety of customers.
Global airlines’ flights to nowhere sell out in minutes
While Singapore Airlines has changed its mind on special sightseeing flights, they are proving popular in other parts of the world.
Qantas Airways’ seven-hour scenic flight over Australia's Outback and Great Barrier Reef sold out in just 10 minutes and will be operated by a Boeing 787 Dreamliner usually used for long-haul international routes.
Passengers will fly at low levels over Uluru, the Great Barrier Reef and Sydney Harbour before landing back in Sydney (which is also the departure airport). Tickets didn’t come cheap, though - with business class seating costing over USD 2,700.
A Qantas spokesman said: “It's probably the fastest selling flight in Qantas history. People clearly miss travel and the experience of flying. If the demand is there, we’ll definitely look at doing more of these scenic flights while we all wait for borders to open.”
Other carriers including Japan’s ANA and EVA of Taiwan are also laying on similar flights. Air India, the nation’s flag carrier, was reportedly considering doing the same, though airline representatives are quoted on Twitter having dismissed the idea.
Take the captain's seat and fly an A380 with Thai Airways
Ever wondered what it’s like to fly the world’s biggest passenger plane? Here’s your chance to find out, as cash-strapped Thai Airways opens up its flight simulators, including the Airbus A380, Boeing 777 and Airbus A330, to help bring some money in.
All simulator experiences will be under the supervision of actual Thai Airways pilots, who’ll serve as your flight instructor.
Thai Airways says:
"The Airbus A380 is a modern-day legend. It is the largest passenger airliner and one of the most technological advanced commercial aircraft ever built. Powered by four Rolls-Royce jet engines, each producing up to 70,000 lbs. of thrust, the A380 propels across continents and oceans to safety deliver over 500 passengers to their destination each flight. Thai airways’ A380 full flight simulator is used to train our pilots to prepare for actual flight conditions, as well as practice being engaged in emergency situation."
Converting their planes into restaurants for the day, taking us on a flight to nowhere and even opening up their flight simulators - airlines are coming up with all sorts of creative ideas to tempt us to part with our cash.
Which one do you like best, and do you have any better suggestions for the airlines to introduce?