A total of 96 passengers boarded the 'Flight to Nowhere,' which took off from Incheon International Airport and flew to Kota Kinabalu, Sabah.
A flight to nowhere is also referred to as a scenic flight or a sightseeing flight. Travelers will go through all of the airport and airline processes, but instead of arriving at a new destination, they will return to the same airport from which they departed.
The South Korean government has extended permissions for its local-based airlines to operate the ‘Flights to Nowhere' programme in support of the local aviation industry and duty-free sectors in Korea that were affected by the global pandemic. Jin Air has taken part to operate the flight, and Sabah has been chosen as the fourth international destination after Hong Kong, Osaka, and Okinawa.
Jin Air, one of the largest South Korean low-cost airlines, has launched its fourth ‘Flight to Nowhere' on July 25, 2021, with the support of the Sabah Tourism Board and assistance from Tourism Malaysia.
The flight route takes passengers low-flying over Daegu, Busan, and partially Japanese airspace, departing at 12:40 p.m. from Incheon International Airport. It then completed the journey by arriving at 14:30 p.m. at the same location from which it had taken off.
With its variety of benefits and special in-flight activities, the Kota Kinabalu-themed sightseeing flight has piqued the interest of Koreans. To commemorate the occasion, passengers boarding the flight were given goodie bags prepared by Jin Air and the Sabah Tourism Board. Shilla, Lotte, and Shinsegae, three major duty-free shops in South Korea, have provided duty-free services on board.
The cabin crew also prepared additional entertainment such as quizzes and lucky draw to keep the flight interesting. Round trip tickets (Incheon to Kota Kinabalu) sponsored by Jin Air, hotel, and sunset cruise vouchers sponsored by the Sabah Tourism Board were offered as prizes to the passengers onboard.
“People clearly miss the experience of flying. These experiences will surely offer opportunities for them to remember Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia as a top-of-mind tourist destination,” said Shaharuddin Yahya, Director of Tourism Malaysia Korea.
Given the success of the first flight to nowhere project, Sabah Tourism, in collaboration with the Tourism Malaysia Seoul office, plans to expand this activity with other Korean airlines, including Air Busan and Jeju Air, in August 2021.
“Flight to nowhere is the closest thing to international travel, and it accommodates travel-starved travellers,” said Noredah Othman, General Manager of Sabah Tourism Board. “Once international travel borders reopen, we welcome Koreans to visit us again,” she added.
With most international flights suspended or severely reduced over the course of a year due to COVID-19, the Ministry of Land, Transport, and Maritime Affairs in Korea has been supporting aviation and tourism by allowing ‘flights to nowhere,' which has proven incredibly popular among people nostalgic for pre-pandemic days.
Prior to the pandemic, South Koreans considered Sabah to be one of the best holiday destinations in Southeast Asia. In 2019, nearly 400,000 South Koreans visited Sabah, with 67 direct flights from Incheon, Busan, and Muan to Kota Kinabalu.
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