Asia Minute: Taiwan’s Flightless Plane

Jul 3, 2020

Many Americans are staying closer to home this holiday weekend. That includes those who are still cautious about getting on airplanes. But in Taiwan, one airport is taking an unusual approach to using some of its planes.

An airport in Taipei is offering an unusual service — the chance to board an airplane, and not go anywhere. That may not sound like a draw in the United States, but in Taiwan, about 7,000 people signed up for a chance to be in one of the 60 seats on the plane, at the gate.

Winners were chosen at random.

Taiwan has had success in avoiding some of the worst impacts of the coronavirus in a population of about 24-million, it has had roughly 450 cases and 7 deaths.

The government has sharply limited inbound arrivals, and advised its citizens against overseas travel. But the new idea at Taipei’s Songshan airport is to show people how procedures have changed, and highlight some airport renovations. 

So, on Thursday, passengers got boarding passes, made their way through security and immigration, and climbed aboard a China Airlines Airbus A-330 — complete with flight attendants, and judging from a Reuters photograph, snacks.

Those 6,900 or so would-be passengers who couldn’t catch this flightless exercise will get another chance.

Airport officials say they plan to repeat the experience several more times in coming weeks.