Traveling definitely has its upsides and downsides, with most people agreeing that the airport experience is far less enjoyable than relaxing by the beach at your favorite destination.
Would you endure groping by TSA and grueling check-in lines with a screaming toddler if there weren’t crashing waves or room service waiting for you on the other side?
Well, in Taiwan they would!
I know. I’m as surprised as you are, but it’s true.
Shelter-in-place policies have made people do some wacky things like create a restaurant for squirrels, give epic lip-syncing concerts, or finish projects that were started 10 years ago – and yes, all have been popularized on social media.
But for the frequent traveler, staying in one place for too long can make them stir crazy.
So Taipei’s downtown Songshan airport has begun offering restless Taiwan citizens a solution – a fake travel experience “where you check in, go through passport control and security and even board the aircraft. You just never leave,” reports the Jerusalem Post.
Without hesitation, families, businessmen, and lone adventurers signed up to “enjoy” the travel process.
A whopping 7,000 people were eager to be chosen, but only 60 were selected.
“I really want to leave the country, but because of the epidemic lots of flights can’t fly,” said participant Hsiao Chun-wei, 38, who brought her young son, reported the Jerusalem Post.
Another woman traveling with her family said, “I hope the epidemic ends soon so we can really fly away.”
The whole airport process is mimicked – passengers get their boarding pass, go through security and immigration, then find their seats on the Airbus A330 of China Airlines where they’re greeted by actual flight attendants.
Songshan is using this opportunity to get passengers familiar with the new protocols put in place since the pandemic – and to show off some fancy, new renovations too.
Taiwan has had only 7 reported deaths from COVID-19, reports Trading Economics, having had their borders closed almost completely since mid-March.
While this may have curbed their fears, it’s caused a 64% drop in passengers the first five months of 2020.
So with traveling getting ready to boom again, Songshan and their passengers are ready to pick up where they left off.
And we’ve already seen a tremendous shift in one’s travel experience – going from being forced to stay at home, to an endless flow of passengers rushing off to anywhere that isn’t their own four walls.
It seems psychology can explain a lot in these circumstances.
Dr. Samantha Brooks published research in Lancet that suggests quarantine measures can cause confusion, anger, insomnia, anxiety, and depression in individuals.
Getting away from home, even if it’s just to sit on a parked plane for an hour, can help alleviate these symptoms – especially if traveling had been part of your normal routine.
As Psychology Today reports, “Our routine experiences give us a sense of self-continuity as our reactions tend to be relatively consistent.”
As frustrating as it is to get your bags checked, go through metal detectors, and wait in uncomfortable chairs to board a stuffy plane, it’s what we’ve come to expect and are comfortable with.
While I don’t see the United States hopping on this pretend flight trend, in the end, it may not be as crazy as it sounds for some people – but that person is just not me.