Royal Brunei Airline offers 85-minute 'flight to nowhere' scenic tour due to Covid-19, has waitlist of 300

PHOTO: Instagram/Royalbruneiair, Borneo Bulletin/Asia News Network

With the impact of Covid-19 near-obliterating the aviation and travel industry, airlines have had to pivot their businesses in order to survive.

Royal Brunei Airlines (RB) recently took to the skies, bringing 99 passengers on the launch of its new 'Dine & Fly' sightseeing tour.

One could think of it as Singapore's Cable Car Sky Dining, but on a winged machine instead and with a broader range of sights. 

The 85-minute scenic trip last Saturday (Aug 16) took passengers over Brunei's coast and the island of Borneo to view its iconic landmarks from above.

The first of its kind Royal Brunei Airlines (RB) Dine & Fly flight took off yesterday morning with 99 passengers on...

Posted by Borneo Bulletin on Monday, August 17, 2020

Brunch was included on board, with live commentary provided by the pilot.

Passengers could select from a  'uniquely Bruneian' menu' of Nasi Lemak with Ayam Goreng or Ayam Masak Kunyit Kedayan with Rice. Dessert was Gula Sago Melaka and fresh fruits.

Said the country's Minister of Finance and Economy Dato Mohd Amin Liew Abdullah, who was on the inaugural flight: "During the Covid-19 pandemic, all businesses have to be creative to attract revenue. For Royal Brunei, the airplanes are not flying to destinations as usual. This new concept will give the opportunity for the pilot to continue flying and also for the public who miss flying to be on board a plane."

He added that as the airline is only flying five per cent of its usual schedule, such support from its countrymen is essential.

"We hope this Dine & Fly concept will create more interest among the public to fly and we may be looking at few other concepts in the future. People can also have special events on the flight."

Prices have not been announced, but according to the Borneo Bulletin, the first flight sold out in 48 hours and a reported 300 people are on the waiting list to get on the Dine & Fly flight. More flights will be scheduled once it's officially launched.

EVA Air's 3-hour 'flight to nowhere'

RB is not the only airline to offer such flight-to-nowhere experiences.

Just a week before on August 8, EVA Air's Hello Kitty plane took off from Taoyuan International Airport. It flew over the northeast cape, circled Japan's Ryukyu Islands before heading home again.

【🔊This is your captain speaking...Welcome on board our very first flight to nowhere!😜😜】 Last Saturday, to honor Father'...

Posted by EVA Airways Corp. 長榮航空 on Wednesday, August 12, 2020

The cost of the approximately three-hour flight? NT$5,288 (S$250) for economy class and NT$6,288 for business class.

The price of a ticket included a Wi-Fi card and an in-flight meal (created by Michelin-starred chef, no less). Passengers could also buy duty-free items while on board.

The seemingly high price tag for the short tour didn't seem to deter anyone, as flights were snapped up for both Aug 8 and Aug 15 trips.

Book a ride between Australia and Antarctica

Privately-chartered aviation tours between Australia and Antarctica had been operating for the last 26 years, until the pandemic hit.

Qantas 787 Dreamliners would fly to and over the southernmost continent for passengers to take in the sights, before zipping back home. All within the span of 12-hours.

Now, Qantas and tour operator Antarctica Flights are planning to resume the flights to the southernmost continent. There are currently seven scheduled flights between November and February.

Prices for the flight range from A$1,199 (S$1,184) for an economy seat to A$7,999 for the most expensive business class seat. For the price, you'd get two in-flight meals and full bar access.

It's definitely not a day trip us regular folk might take, but it may be attractive for those who've saved enough from staying home this whole year and can't wait to experience travel, or at least a plane ride, again.

candicecai@asiaone.com