Travel-starved 'passengers' dine on parked Singapore Airlines jet


Almost 200 SIA staff, including cabin crew, volunteered to help out at the event. - The Straits Times/Asian News Network

SINGAPORE, Oct 24 (AFP): Hundreds of travel-starved diners ate lunch and watched seat-back films aboard two parked Singapore Airlines jets turned into pop-up restaurants on Saturday.

With the aviation industry in deep crisis due to the coronavirus pandemic, airlines have turned to alternative ways to raise cash, from offering "flights to nowhere" to tours of aircraft.

Singapore's flag carrier, which has cut thousands of jobs and grounded nearly all its planes this year, offered passengers the chance to dine on board two A380 superjumbos -- the world's biggest passenger jet.

On Saturday more than 400 diners checked in at Changi Airport and went through the usual security checks before arriving at the aircraft for lunch.

"The food is pretty amazing, it's better than the one they serve during the flight," Zhou Tai Di, a 17-year-old student in economy class, told AFP as he tucked into his soy sauce-glazed chicken with spicy fried eggplant and rice.

The event saw some buzz returning to a section of the transit area in Terminal 3. - The Straits Times/ANNThe event saw some buzz returning to a section of the transit area in Terminal 3. - The Straits Times/ANN

Some settled in for a nap while waiting for their meals to be served, while others watched movies on the seat-back entertainment systems.

About half the seats were left empty, in keeping with social-distancing guidelines.

Calvin Teo, a 29-year-old civil servant and aviation buff, paid Sg$321 (US$236) to be served a six-course meal in business class, saying he missed flying and hoped to recreate the experience.

"Of course the feeling of actually flying will be better, because there's the excitement of going to a new destination, to explore a new destination, and even though we can't do it now due to Covid, this is a good substitute for now, to recreate the feels of taking a long-haul flight," he told AFP.

The most expensive option is a Sg$642 eight-course meal in a first-class suite, while the cheapest costs Sg$53 and consists of a three-course meal in economy class.

A limited number of diners were also able to tour the double-decker aircraft and take selfies with pilots in the cockpit.

The tarmac meals proved surprisingly popular -- the airline announced six additional sessions after more than 900 lunch tickets sold out within 30 minutes of bookings opening earlier this month.

The airline is also offering home deliveries of plane meals, but it has ditched plans for "flights to nowhere" -- short journeys starting and ending at the same airport -- following an outcry over the potential environmental impact. - AFP
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