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Sightseeing flights

S.Korean airlines turn to non-landing flights to tide over slump

Dec 08, 2020 (Gmt+09:00)

Shinsegae Duty Free teams up with Jeju Air to promote non-landing flights

South Korean airlines have set their sights on non-landing air travel services to draw in passengers in times of hardship, hoping to tide over the business slump brought on by the global pandemic crisis.

The country's No. 2 airline carrier Asiana Airlines Inc. announced on Dec. 8 that it will launch a sightseeing service via a same-day return flight between Korea and Japan. 

The plane will fly over the straits of Korea and circle Kyushu, Japan, allowing passengers to enjoy a scenic tour from the skies in an A380 airplane, dubbed the "hotel in the sky," due to its massive size.

The tour services will begin on Dec. 12 with the plane departing Incheon International Airport at 1 p.m. (Korea standard time) and returning around 4:20 p.m after flying over Korea’s port city Busan, Japan’s Miyazaki, and Jeju, a Korean island.

Passengers traveling on Asiana Airline's sightseeing tour will be able to receive the benefits of international duty-free shopping as the flight will be entering foreign airspace. They will be restricted to a $600 purchase limit and purchases must be made in advance through online duty-free stores. 

The A380 non-landing sightseeing services will continue until January next year. The ticket prices will be offered at 400,000 won ($368) for a business suite, 350,000 won for business seats, and 250,000 won for economy seats. Passengers can earn miles from the trip and receive an amenity kit. In-flight meals will not be provided due to COVID-19 guidelines.

The new tour service is expected to help Korean airlines survive amid recent financial setbacks due to the plummeting number of international passengers on the back of COVID-19 traveling bans.

It is also welcome news for duty-free stores that have watched their sales plunge alongside the airline industry. 

Airports remain empty amid travel restrictions in the pandemic era

The country's low-cost carrier Jeju Air Co. will offer similar sightseeing flights between Korea and Japan. On Dec. 12, the plane will take off from Incheon International Airport and circle the skies of Fukuoka, Japan before returning to Korea. The ticket price is set at 198,000 won ($182).

Jeju Air has partnered with Shinsegae Duty Free to offer promotional events such as a 40% discount coupon for passengers who purchase goods from Shinsegae's duty-free stores.

Also, other low-cost carriers are planning to launch flight tours once they receive approval from the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport.

Korean Air Lines, the country's largest carrier, has decided to hold off flight tours following a resurgence of the coronavirus.

Earlier, the transportation ministry gave temporary approval for airlines to provide non-landing flight services, which include duty-free benefits for passengers until December 2021.

Write to Kyung-min Kang at

Danbee Lee edited this article.

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