The plane never left the tarmac but it definitely soothed the nerves of 60 onboard 'passengers' who were deprived of the thrill of travelling due to the travel restrictions imposed in response to the spread of the coronavirus. This unique 'fake flight' was operated in Taiwan and the 60 'passengers' were picked from around 7,000 applicants through a competition.
Though it was a flight to nowhere, there was no letup in procedures relating to check-in, passport verification, and security before the 'passengers' boarded China Airlines' A330 at the Taipei Songshan Airport. Only hand baggage was allowed and the 'passengers' checked in with the tickets they got after winning the competition. The passport verification was completed near the immigration control office and boarding passes were issued to all passengers.
When the flight number was announced over the public address system, the passengers queued up at the boarding gates and boarded the plane like any other flight. The cabin crew cordially welcomed the passengers onboard and they were seated as per the seat numbers printed on their tickets.
Everyone onboard cheered, despite knowing that this flight service was to nowhere, when the captain announced the 'takeoff.' The captain addressed the passengers and they were given a 20-minute awareness class on the precautions to be taken while travelling by air after the travel curbs are lifted. After the safety message, the pilot announced 'touch down' and the passengers disembarked from the plane. Later, the they were taken to the airport restaurant for tea and snacks where they indulged in small talk as if they just returned from a long-haul flight.
The international flight services from the Shansong Airport have been suspended since March 15 in the wake of the pandemic. The Shansong Airport used to daily operate more than 10 flights to Singapore, Tokyo, and China and most of the domestic flights also touch the airport. Many people travel to different parts of the world from this airport in Taipei, the capital city of Taiwan.
The health department of Taiwan had reported that scores of people were under stress as they could not travel due to the travel restrictions, and the idea of a 'fake flight' stemmed out of this precarious situation.
The pilot of the fake flight requested the passengers to avoid international travel until the COVID-19 pandemic subsides. He also reiterated the importance of wearing masks and cleaning hands with sanitizers apart from avoiding handshakes in social life.