Taiwan’s EVA Air will operate a series of speed dating ‘flights to nowhere’ over the holiday season for singles looking for love at 38,000 feet. Taiwanese airlines have popularised so-called ‘flights to nowhere’ during the COVID-19 pandemic which has curtailed peoples freedom to travel overseas with various themed flights taking passengers on tours that end up at the exact same airport where they departed from.
“Because of Covid-19, EVA Air has been organizing “faux travel” experiences to fulfil people’s desire for travel. When single men and women travel, apart from enjoying the fun in travel, they may wish to meet someone — like a scene in a romantic movie,” Chiang Tsung-Wei of travel experience firm Mobius told CNN Travel.
Controversially, women signing up for the “Fly! Love is in the Air” flights have to be aged between 24 and 35, while male passengers are only allowed onboard if aged between 28 and 38. All passengers must also have university degrees and hold Taiwanese citizenship.
“From different surveys we have done, most of the male participants would like to meet women younger than them while female participants would like to meet men older than them. That’s why there is a different age criteria for the event,” Chiang explained while noting that Mobius runs speed dating events for different age groups.
A $295 ticket includes a three-hour flight which will depart from Taipei’s Taoyuan International Airport and then after a scenic tour of the Tapei area will land right back where it started. Passengers will also have the chance to do some more speed dating on the ground.
While enjoying inflight meals created by Michelin-starred chef Motoke Nakamura, passengers will be encouraged to chat with their seatmates and mingle with other passengers. Passengers won’t be allowed to choose their seat before departure but instead, seating assignments will be randomly allocated.
Although Taiwan has done well to control the novel Coronavirus, passengers will be asked to wear face masks when they’re not eating or drinking.
Three speed dating ‘flights to nowhere’ are so far planned. The first will be on Christmas Day which includes afternoon tea on the ground. The second is on New Year’s Eve which will kick off with a candlelit dinner before passengers celebrate the New Year at altitude.
Finally, a New Years Day flight will begin with a breakfast date on the ground.
“The biggest advantage of speed dating on a flight comes from the serious nature from our participants,” explained Chiang. “In addition to gathering participants with enough spending power, it also attracts a group of single people who love travelling. With the same values, it boosts participants’ motivation to meet and helps smoothen their conversation from the start.”
While ‘flights to nowhere’ have proved popular in Taiwan, the flights have received a backlash from environmentalists. Singapore Airlines rejected the ‘flight to nowhere’ concept over environmental concerns, instead opting to turn one of its grounded Airbus A380’s into a pop-up restaurant.
Australian flag carrier Qantas also rejigged the concept into a ‘flight to somewhere‘ with passengers flying to Uluru and spending the night in a luxury resort before heading back to Sydney.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.