Paying for a private trip to outer space, and then if all goes well, to the moon and even Mars might be the future. But the present is startlingly different. You can buy a ticket for a flight starting in Sydney and landing at the same place. So what, you ask? So this: you don’t get off anywhere in between. Tickets were sold out in 10 minutes. Further proof that there is one born every minute.
In case you find that seven-hour trip too hectic, another airline is offering its passengers a ‘flight’ that does not leave the tarmac. You buy a ticket, sit in the aircraft, enjoy the meals (if "enjoy" is the word), disembark and go home. For an additional amount, the airline promises to lose your luggage – just to give you that authentic flying experience. Or you can have that experience by not losing your luggage but fighting with the ground staff all the same.
"Just because I didn’t bring any luggage aboard doesn’t mean I can’t lose it," you say, and a sad, henpecked man with missing teeth sitting behind the counter will tell you, "Sorry, sir, your bags were mistakenly loaded on a later flight that didn’t take off, and might have reached Hawaii by now." It is so important to board the right non-moving flight. Especially if you have excess baggage. First-class passengers are allowed to board at their convenience, or not board at all if the magazines in the lounge are more interesting.
If you find the flight to nowhere taxing, you can stay at home and order airline meals. There’s even a restaurant in Japan that offers only airline meals. That people will pay good money to eat what they normally avoid on flights is indication of the extent to which the pandemic has changed our lives. Barf bags come free with every additional meal you order (or if they don’t, they should; authenticity is everything, after all).
Greta Thunberg and her friends may not approve of the Sydney-to-Sydney non-stop (literally) flight, with tales of carbon footprints and unplanted trees to make the travellers feel guilty. But they can’t take issue with the Bangkok-to-Bangkok non-start flight (again, literally) that gives you the travelling experience without having to go through the hassles of actual travel. Security checks, I am told, will be conducted only after you leave the aircraft – to ensure you haven’t walked away with light or bathroom fittings, a food tray or a sleeping air hostess. No checks before you enter. But I could be wrong.
For her next trip Thunberg will have to take a non-starting ship to counter the effects of the non-starting aircraft.