USA

Would-be travelers in Taiwan live out dreams of flying again

TAIPEI, Taiwan (AP) — Like almost every region, Taiwan has been hit hard by restrictions on international travel imposed because of the coronavirus. Some residents have found comfort in boarding a flight that didn’t take off, just to revisit some memories and plan for the day when they can fly again.

The fantasy flight was organized by Taiwan’s Civil Aviation Administration to raise awareness of coronavirus prevention and control procedures to follow when passing through customs and boarding a plane at Taipei International Airport.

Participants won a lucky draw held online, with each allowed to bring a guest, putting the total number who boarded at 66. As with normal flights, they had to check in, obtain boarding passes and go through immigration and security procedures before being allowed on the plane.

“People who want to fly abroad have long been suffering,” said Wang Chih-ching, deputy director of the airport.

The event and the publicity generated will help future travelers better prepare for when international flights resume in earnest, Wang said.

The online draw drew 10,000 entries. After taking their seats, the passengers — all wearing masks — were served food and drinks, participated in a pop quiz and were treated to a good luck salute from fire engines that sprayed water. After they exited without the plane having left the ground, passengers were given a demonstration about security by customs officials accompanied by a sniffer dog.

Lucky draw winner Joyce Nieh and her friend Jessica Liu, both mobile game graphic designers, took selfies to mark the occasion.

“Finally, we’re in a plane … pretending that we’re flying abroad,” Nieh said.

“I had to cancel all my international travel plans,” she said. “We were lucky to win the opportunity to participate.”

Taiwan has largely contained the spread of the coronavirus but social distancing and travel restrictions remain in place. The government has reported 449 confirmed cases and seven deaths.

More such fantasy flights are planned for coming days.

Copyright © 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, written or redistributed.

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