This Taiwanese airline is launching an airborne speed dating service
Since the start of the pandemic, airlines the world over have found increasingly creative ways to scrape together a bit of extra revenue during these challenging times.
There are ‘flights to nowhere’; cruise-style journeys that take off and land in the same airport, and simulate the experience of travelling without actually going anywhere. There are airline food restaurants, where surplus in-flight meals are flogged to paying customers as terrestrial fast food, and, somewhat to our surprise, people buy them.
Now there’s a new initiative on the block – a speed dating service at 30,000 feet. Taiwanese carrier EVA Air, a pioneer of the ‘flight to nowhere’ format, is now adding an edge of romance with three singles-only flights set for Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve, and New Year’s Day.
Officially named ‘Fly! Love Is In The Air‘, and made in partnership with travel company Mobius (and its pre-existing speed dating arm, You And Me), the planes will take off from Taoyuan International Airport in Taipei, before circling the city for about three hours.
The three different flights diverge slightly – the Christmas date concludes with afternoon tea after touching down, the New Year’s Eve date features candlelit dinner before boarding the plane for the countdown to midnight, and the New Year’s Day option takes the place of breakfast.
On board, passengers will be allotted seats by draw and in pairs, but will be encouraged to move around and mingle while being served snacks by Michelin-starred chef Motokazu Nakamura.
“When single men and women travel, apart from enjoying the fun in travel, they may wish to meet someone,” Chiang Tsung-Wei, spokesperson for You And Me, told CNN, “like a scene in a romantic movie.”
Priced at $295 per person, would-be flyers must file an application to be considered, and must be Taiwanese citizens with university degrees. Each flight hosts only 40 people – 20 men and 20 women – and the operator courted controversy by including sex-specific age limits. Male applicants must be between 28 and 38, while women must be 24-35.
Responding to the criticism, Chiang cited surveys carried out by the company, suggesting the age criteria were driven by participant preference. It doesn’t seem to have put off any passengers, as the first flight fielded 10 times more applicants than it had seats.