Taiwan’s first ‘pretend to go abroad’ tour takes off with fake flight

(CNN) — Sixty eager “travelers” turned up to Taipei Songshan Airport on Thursday, boarding passes in hand, to take a rather unusual trip.

Their destination? Nowhere.

While most flights in Taiwan are still grounded because of the Covid-19 outbreak, Taipei Songshan Airport (also called Taipei International Airport) offers locals a small taste of travel, dubbed “pretend to go abroad” airport tours.

The first of three scheduled tours occurred on July 2, with two more set for July 4 and July 7.

Taipei Songshan Airport’s three half-day tours allow locals to pretend to take a flight.

Taipei Songshan Airport

“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.

In early June, the airport’s social media team asked those that would like to participate in a lottery to win a tour spot to share an airport Facebook post.

Some 7,000 users reportedly entered.

Among these applications, 180 people — or 60 passengers per flight — were opted for randomly to join the half-day tour.

Travelers are issued a boarding pass and welcomed onto an airplane that never actually takes off.

Taipei Songshan Airport

Taiwan carrier China Airlines operated the first “flight” on July 2, which took place onboard an A330. Flight attendants were up to speed to speak with the passengers.

“China Airlines has arranged personnel for airplane cleaning and disinfection to give instructions on pandemic prevention, so that the public can understand our aviation industry’s efforts in pandemic prevention,” said Hsu.

EVA Air will host the second and third tours.

Inflight meals, however, weren’t provided. Instead, tour-goers dined at one of many airport restaurants.

Taipei Songshan Airport fake travel

Songshan Airport, located in the town center, is celebrating its 70th anniversary in 2020.

Taipei Songshan Airport

Smaller in proportions and capacity than Taipei’s Taoyuan International Airport, Songshan Airport is celebrating its 70th anniversary this year and, in 2019, completed a number of renovations and expansions. Tour-takers get to be the “first to experience the new facilities at the airport,” according to promotional fliers.

International tourism has been effectively stopped in a lot of the world as countries shut their borders to stem outbreaks of the coronavirus, which has already infected significantly more than 7 million people globally.

Taiwan locked down its borders in March amid the growing coronavirus pandemic.

Foreign nationals are still barred from visiting the island but Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced on June 24 that it could gradually adjust entry regulations in response to world wide efforts to resume economic activity.

CNN’s Ben Westcott and Shanshan Wang also contributed to the report.