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Grounded airplanes that take on new life as fancy eateries

The trend of airplanes being refurbished into eateries is nothing new, but it is gaining more popularity in this pandemic time. 

While before this, only decommissioned airplanes are given a second life as fancy dining spots, now even fully functioning ones (albeit with its wings clipped, figuratively speaking) are being temporarily turned into restaurants as they can’t exactly be flown anywhere at the moment, not while most airports worldwide remain shuttered. 

Let’s take a look below at some of the airplanes, whether decommissioned or still in service, that have taken flight as fancy eateries. 

Restaurant A380 @Changi (Singapore)

(Photo source: Singapore Airlines)
(Photo source: krisshop.com)

For two weekends only, from 24 October to 1 November, Singapore Airlines (SIA) turned its A380 jumbo jet into a Restaurant A380 @Changi restaurant that welcomed “passengers” to enjoy their food in the comfort of the plane’s cabin. Since plane seating is usually divided into different classes, so was this dining experience, which started with Economy at SGD50, followed by Premium at SGD90, Business at SGD300, and Suites at SGD600. Singaporeans who missed out on this, you can sort of recreate the experience yourself with SIA@Home. Just choose your desired First Class or Business Class meal at krisshop.com, which will then be delivered to your home. You can even get the exclusive chef experience to reheat, plate and serve the meal. For those who are more interested in a rare behind-the-scenes tour of the SIA Training Centre, the Inside Singapore Airlines package offers exactly this for two upcoming weekends, from 21 to 29 November.

Burhaniye Uçak Restorant (Turkey)

(Photo source: @CGTNOfficial Twitter)
(Photo source: Yeni Şafak)

Touted as the biggest restaurant in Turkey, as it has a seating capacity of 280 people, Burhaniye Uçak Restorant is set inside a commercial aircraft that was previously owned by Turkish Airlines. The retired Airbus A340 was first disassembled into eight parts in Istanbul before being transported to the Burhaniye district, where the restaurant is currently located, according to eTurboNews. As seen above, the original seats have been replaced with more standard restaurant tables and chairs. Having been in service in 2016, the restaurant was put on the market in early August 2020 when the Turkish entrepreneur, who invested 1.5 million dollars in it, decided to sell it due to health problems.

Coffee War & Airways Land (Thailand)

(Photo source: The Pattaya News)
(Photo source: Airways Land’s Facebook)

Other than just restaurants, Thailand also turns its airplanes into cafés. In fact, one was so popular that it had to be temporarily closed as it was attracting too many customers. Since large gatherings fly in the face of social distancing, the café, Coffee War, complied with the Public Health officials’ order to close for a week to ease the overcrowding. According to The Thaiger, the café is located in the Sattahip district of the Chonburi Province and is set up in a retired Airbus 330. But it’s not the only airplane from the Thai Airways fleet that has been turned into an eatery. Another decommissioned Airbus 330 is being transformed into a restaurant, located next to the Airways Land Café in Isan’s Nakhon Ratchasima. Interestingly, other than the restaurant and café, the place also houses a Thai style cowboy-themed tourist attraction.

Hawaii Adda & Runway 1 (India)

(Photo source: Gurmeet Singh | The Indian Express)
(Photo source: Dineout India)

Hawaii Adda and Runway 1 are the first and second airplane restaurants in India, respectively. Hawaii Adda opened 4 years ago in Punjab, introducing India’s first 65-seater restaurant set inside a retired Airbus A320, its opulent interior inspired by the country’s most luxurious train, the Maharaja Express. Unfortunately, the pandemic has slowed down business instead of boosting it. The Indian Express reported that the restaurant has been standing in overgrown shrubs (pictured in the top photo above) after lockdown was enforced in the country. On the other hand, it seems to be business as usual with Runway 1, who has been continuously posting promotions on its Facebook. Opened in Haryana in 2017, the restaurant is set inside Air India’s retired Airbus A320. “Boarding passes” are required to board the plane. What’s unique is the cockpit has 3D flight simulation game setup.

Plane in the City (Malaysia)

(Photo source: Plane in the City’s Facebook)
(Photo source: Plane in the City’s Facebook)

Malaysia has one too, which is the first of its kind in the country, but unfortunately it’s closed for the time being due to the Recovery Movement Control Order (RMCO) that was implemented since June. It might take a while before it opens again since the Conditional MCO (CMCO, which has stricter rules to abide by compared to RMCO) was just reinstated late last month as the nation started experiencing its third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. Located in Kuala Lumpur, Plane in the City (PITC) was launched on 25 April 2018 and is set up inside a retired Boeing 737. “Passengers” not only get to enjoy fine dining within their 90-minute experience, but also take tons of selfies – be it in the cockpit, with the engine fan (switched off, of course) or while walking on the wings!

SPECIAL MENTION: Thai Airways (Thailand)

(Photo source: UNRESERVED Media | AFP)
(Photo source: AP Photo | Sakchai Lalit)

Unlike the airplane-turned-restaurants above, Thai Airways’ approach is a little different. Instead of bringing the restaurant concept to its planes, it brings its cabin atmosphere to an existing eatery for everyone to enjoy. The old staff canteen at its headquarters has been refurbished to look like the inside of the airline’s planes, complete with the actual brightly coloured economy and business class seats. Cabin crew taking and serving customers’ orders completes the experience. According to PR Thai Government, The Thai Airways restaurant – dubbed the Royal Orchid Dining Experience – located at Vibhavadi-Rangsit Road, is open Wednesdays through Fridays (7am-2pm). Other than that, Thai Airways is also selling time on its flight simulators, AP News reported. Customers can get a 30-minute hands-experience on an Airbus A380 simulator to the tune of USD640.

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