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|Taiwan's first 'pretend to go abroad' tour takes off with fake flight. Photo: CNN|
Starved of the travel experience during the coronavirus lockdown? One Taiwanese airport has the solution: a fake itinerary where you check in, go through passport control and security and even board the aircraft. You just never leave.
According to Metro UK, Taipei’s downtown Songshan Airport says it has come up with a stop-gap solution for people who miss the thrill of travelling. Around 7,000 people applied to take part in the "airport experience", with 60 winners chosen at random for the first fake flight on Thursday.
The passengers got itineraries, boarding passes and proceeded through security and immigration before boarding an Airbus A330 of Taiwan’s largest carrier, China Airlines, where flight attendants chatted to them. In-flight meals weren’t provided but tour-goers dined at one of the airport restaurants.
They were also given the freedom to explore parts of the terminal and shop in the duty-free store.
|Around 7,000 people applied to go on a fake flight from Songshan Airport in Taiwan. Photo: Reuters|
"I really want to leave the country, but because of the epidemic lots of flights can’t fly", said Hsiao Chun-wei, 38, who brought her young son.
Songshan usually has flights to Tokyo, Seoul and several Chinese cities and is an important domestic hub.
The airport is using the event to show off renovations completed while passengers have stayed away, and to show people what coronavirus-prevention steps they are taking.
"People who didn’t have the opportunity to take international flights at Songshan can use this chance to experience and learn more about the boarding process and relevant service facilities", said the airport’s deputy director, Chih-ching Wang, cited Metro UK.
"In addition to letting the participants go through security screening, identification inspection and other immigration clearance procedures, they actually boarded the plane to experience the fun of boarding," Ting Hsu, who works in Songshan Airport's planning department, told CNN Travel.
|More fake flight experiences will take place in the coming weeks. Photo: Reuters|
Taiwan has recorded less than 500 cases and just 7 deaths of coronavirus. An early lockdown meant it was relatively unscathed by the pandemic, with borders closed since mid-March.
Authorities have advised citizens against overseas travel unless absolutely necessary. With fewer flights operating, passenger numbers have plummeted 64% in the first five months of 2020 compared with the same period last year, according to the government.
The airport has now scheduled several more fake flights over the next few weeks for some of those who missed out the first time round.
Taiwan airport offers flights to ‘nowhere’ for passengers stuck at home during Covid-19 pandemic. Video: SCMP
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CNN, Reuters, Metro UK