We have seen airlines around the world offer flights to nowhere during the pandemic to motivate (otherwise) grounded travelers. EVA Air has operated speed dating flights, Thai Airways has operated flights over 99 holy sites and a Facebook group chartered an A380 just for fun. Well, Emirates is about to operate an A380 flight to nowhere and it has an interesting angle.
EK2021, an Emirates A380 flight to nowhere
On Saturday April 10, 2021, an Emirates Airbus A380 will make a flight to nowhere to celebrate the UAE’s progress with its vaccination program and to highlight Emirates’ progress in vaccinating its employees. The idea here is that the flight will only carry fully vaccinated crew and passengers.
The EK2021 leaves Dubai International Airport at 12:00 PM and returns at 2:30 PM. The approximately 2 hour 30 minute flight will fly over different parts of the United Arab Emirates.
This flight is specially operated by Emirates’ newest A380, which has a Premium Economy cabin as well as updated First, Business and Economy cabins. Passengers can expect the full A380 experience on this flight, including entertainment, food, drinks and more. In addition, Premium passengers have access to the lounge.
Emirates’ newest A380 Business Class will be available on this flight
Emirates is also using this flight to showcase its security measures such as biometric and contactless technology at check-in and boarding.
The UAE is one of the leading countries in the world when it comes to vaccinating residents. To date, over eight million vaccine shots have been administered in the country, taken by more than half of the UAE’s population.
How expensive are tickets?
Unfortunately, even if you are ready to travel to the UAE, not all tickets are available. Tickets for EK2021 are initially only available to UAE citizens and residents who have completed the two-week period after their second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.
Tickets cannot be purchased online but must be purchased either from the Emirates Cell Center or a sales office in the UAE.
The prices for tickets are as follows:
- Economy tickets are AED 1,000 (~ USD 272)
- Business tickets are AED 2,000 (~ USD 544)
Interestingly, First and Economy tickets are not sold. I am curious to see whether some economy passengers are in Premium Economy and some Business Class passengers are in First Class or whether these cabins will simply remain empty.
It sounds like there is no shower over the UAE on this flight
All fares collected for this flight will be donated to the Emirates Airline Foundation, the airline’s charity that supports projects around the world.
Passengers must bring their UAE ID or passport and a vaccination certificate. In addition, all customers receive a free COVID-19 rapid test before departure. A mask is still required to be worn at the airport and on the plane (it is not entirely clear whether the COVID-19 test is optional or mandatory).
The aircraft operating this flight will feature Emirates’ new Premium Economy
Emirates will operate a one-off A380 flight to nowhere on April 10th to celebrate vaccination progress for both the country and the airline. Tickets are available in Economy and Business Class and all tariffs collected go to charity.
This is certainly cool for Avgeeks, but I’m not entirely sure I get the logic here, and that goes beyond people’s (reasonable) environmental concerns. All passengers will be vaccinated, but all typical coronavirus guidelines will remain in place. Last year, the airlines convinced us that flying is safe even for travelers who have not been vaccinated. What exactly is going to make this flight different in this regard?
And should the pre-flight COVID-19 tests help make passengers feel more comfortable, or what? Wouldn’t that be better suited for a flight where not everyone is vaccinated?
What do you think of Emirates’ A380 flight to nowhere?