Hong Kong (CNN) – I got on some flights where people applauded when the plane landed. But this was the first time I had boarded a plane where everyone applauded on the way.
As well as giving airlines a chance to recover some lost revenue, these flights also provide aviation geeks a chance to return to the skies, and enjoy a few small extras.
Although the idea of these flights at first seemed silly to me – do you have to deal with all the hassle of airport security, and then nothing can be shown for it? – When I found out that a hometown airline was offering one, I just couldn’t resist.
My favorite way to get to the airport is by express express train departing from Hong Kong Station.
Like anywhere else in the city, the train station is full of signs reminding people to keep their masks on. However, I felt daring enough to slip the mine for a little drink of water. Removing the mask in Hong Kong is currently illegal, and I felt a slight hint of danger even though no one around could see me. (After all, it’s not hard to get away from society when you’re the only person on the platform.)
Although some other stragglers rode to other train stops in Kowloon and Tsing Yi, I had a full car of my own for the half hour journey. I took advantage of both free phone chargers and free Wi-Fi.
The express train is usually an enjoyable experience, but doing it without luggage is a game changer. Or at least one shifting shoulder.
Arriving at the airport
Despite the fact that we will not leave Hong Kong airspace, everyone on the flight still has to go through normal airport security processes. That means pulling my passport away from storing and putting a pair of socks in my wallet in case I need to remove my sandals.
Temperature screening has been present at Hong Kong International Airport since the days of SARS and avian flu, but the increased protocols mean many free hand sanitizer bottles are placed throughout the terminal and continue to exist of cleaning personnel.
Good thing there isn’t much of a security queue, though – at the last minute, I had to pull things out of my pocket and remove my Kindle from its sleeve. It’s official: I have no skills. A year ago, I was coming rudely to someone else for doing the same thing with security scanners.
Most shops and restaurants at the airport are closed, and there are many signs asking people to stay away from society rather than people to make a move away from society.
Upstairs: Bathrooms are clean and shiny.
Disappointment: Being absent from an international flight means the duty-free shop has no limits.
In the sky
In my job as a travel writer and editor, I fly at least once a month. When travel is your job, it takes some charming away – every stale $ 12 pastry and loud snorer adds up quickly.
But as the plane slowly pulled away from the gate, I found myself strangely emotional. We suddenly exploded with spontaneous applause.
A rep from the Hong Kong Express told us that one of the motivations behind their flights anywhere is to remind people of the magic of travel. Thirty seconds into the flight, I already felt like I was holding my breath. I found myself thinking about my late grandmother, who grew up during the Great Depression and did not fly a plane for the first time until she was thirty years old.
It is easy to forget that flying is a miracle.
Usually, I am a strict hallway. But for the 75 minute loop around Hong Kong, it’s all about the window.
It is not just the lack of a final destination that is different from this flight. There is no food or beverage service – masks are easier to maintain that way – and there is no suitcase. The ride spread, and all the seats in the middle were blocked. More than just a pleasure to travel in the sky, it is a glimpse of what flying will look like as it travels around the world.
Currently, everyone coming to Hong Kong is subject to a 14-day quarantine either in their home or an approved hotel.
To ensure that passengers from the Hong Kong Express flight were not admitted to the quarantine group, we were given a bright purple lanyard to wear upon arrival.. It’s like quarantine is a vampire and our lanyards are garlic, but the system works.
Even though I didn’t have jet lag or a stamp on my passport, my trip anywhere would eventually have felt a little – just a little – like a vacation.