When passengers are in a grounded airliner, reactions usually range from impatience to outright anger.
However, these are not the usual times.
This is one of several activities that Singapore Airlines is launching instead of “flights to nowhere” according to media reports.
The airline announced this week that it would be giving up its plans for Flights without a destination – which were supposed to take off and land at Changi Airport in Singapore – in favor of ground-based activities that are supposed to revive the feeling of air traffic.
Three new ideas
Singapore Airlines presents three activities that replicate the elements of flight – but without going anywhere.
On October 24th and 25th, the airline will let customers dine in an A380 double-decker superjumbo restaurant. Customers can eat Singapore Airlines meals while watching movies in the aircraft’s in-flight entertainment system.
Bookings are $ 50 ($ 37) for economy class dining, $ 300 ($ 220) for business class, and $ 600 ($ 440) for a private suite . Those who arrive in traditional clothing like “sarong kebaya, cheongsam, saree, tie-dye shirt or even kilt” will receive a special gift Company website.
Bookings opened on October 12th on KrisShop.com, the airline’s e-commerce website, and KrisFlyer members can earn or use miles towards purchases.
Guests are seated in groups of up to five people and the A380 dining experience, referred to as “A380 @Changi Restaurant”, requires face masks (except when dining).
Courtesy of Singapore Airlines
The company also runs tours of the SIA Training Center, with optional flight simulator training, junior cabin crew activities for children, and grooming workshops with Singapore Airline’s notoriously immaculate flight attendants. Tour bookings will open on November 1st on KrisShop.com and will take place on November 21st, 22nd, 28th and 29th.
The third service doesn’t require customers to leave home. Starting October 5th, Singapore residents will be able to get world class and premium groceries delivered direct to their homes with a new initiative called SIA @ Home.
Luxury items can be booked for meals for passengers to receive during the flight, such as Dom Perignon champagne, Wedgwood and Narumi tableware and Lalique pajamas. The packages are accompanied by music playlists that reflect the ambience of a Singapore Airlines flight.
There is even the option of booking a private chef to warm up, serve and serve meals at customers’ homes.
Why “Flights to Nowhere” were dropped
Singapore Airlines decided against non-destination flights after a “market study and comprehensive review” that considered environmental impact, financial viability and public feedback.
“An idea for a one-off short-haul flight or a ‘flight to nowhere’ was also initially considered but not pursued after review,” a Singapore Airlines spokesman told CNBC’s Global Traveler.
Media reports have been hit on the airlines’ plans to take off flights to nowhere criticism, mainly related to the environmental impact of flying for the purpose of flying.
“Think of what ‘flights to nowhere’ will be like 10 years from now when the greater effects of climate change begin to hit us,” wrote Terence Chin Yuen Yeen in a letter to the Straits Times. “What better way to get business going?“”
In a letter to Goh Choon Phong, CEO of Singapore Airlines, animal rights group PETA Asia urged the airline to only serve vegan meals on its flights to offset carbon emissions.
Some used social media to criticize the already criticized concept become a minor trend among airlines in Taiwan, Japan, Brunei and Australia.
Others simply did not understand why someone would undergo an activity that is criticized as uncomfortable and cramped, at least for economy passengers of many airlines.
In the end, the setback may have proven too much for a company that isn’t routinely criticized in its home country and that is consistently named one of the best airlines in the world.
Regarding those who hope these flights may be rethought in the future, Singapore Airlines told CNBC: “We currently have no plans to revive the idea.”
Singapore residents respond
Tanuka Mittra was delighted with Singapore Airlines’ “nowhere flights” and considered booking a seat on one until she heard the idea had been canned.
“I wouldn’t say I was devastated by the news,” she said. “I get it from an environmental point of view. It’s probably good not to have a large carbon footprint.”
While the new services are less appealing to her because they’re not in the air, Mittra said she would consider grocery delivery, “but only if it’s top quality food, not economy.”
“People who had it love it,” she said. “Singapore Airlines has a good reputation for a reason.”
A private chef warms, serves and serves a first-class or business-class meal at customers ‘homes via Singapore Airlines’ “Book the Chef” service.
Courtesy of Singapore Airlines
Michael Culme-Seymour believes ground services are a better way of engaging the airline and its customers than an expensive “flight to nowhere”.
“Why not keep the plane on the ground? Those who want to experience the in-flight service can still enjoy the reputable Singapore Airlines brand,” he wrote on LinkedIn to a Singapore-based CNBC editor.
“Imagine anyone who can never afford a first-class flight – now you can sit in first class for a few hours, enjoy a nice meal and a glass of bubbles,” he wrote.
A Singapore Airlines representative told CNBC that the company “will continue to invest in responsible business conduct and increase our sustainability efforts in the years to come”.