Singapore's flag carrier, which has cut thousands of jobs and grounded nearly all its planes this year, offered passengers the chance to dine on board two of the world's biggest passenger jets.

A Singapore Airlines stewardess serves food in business class during the inaugural lunch at Restaurant A380 @Changi onboard a Singapore Airlines Airbus A380 plane at Changi International Airport in Singapore on October 24, 2020.
A Singapore Airlines stewardess serves food in business class during the inaugural lunch at Restaurant A380 @Changi onboard a Singapore Airlines Airbus A380 plane at Changi International Airport in Singapore on October 24, 2020. (AFP)

Hundreds of travel-starved diners tucked into lunch and watched seat-back films aboard two parked Singapore Airlines jets that have turned into pop-up restaurants.

With the aviation industry in deep crisis due to the coronavirus pandemic, airlines have turned to alternative ways to raise cash, from offering "flights to nowhere" to tours of aircraft.

Singapore's flag carrier, which has cut thousands of jobs and grounded nearly all its planes this year, offered passengers the chance to dine on board two A380 superjumbos – the world's biggest passenger jet.

On Saturday, more than 400 diners checked in at Changi Airport and went through the usual security checks before arriving at the aircraft for lunch.

"The food is pretty amazing, it's better than the one they serve during the flight," Zhou Tai Di, a 17-year-old student in economy class, told AFP as he tucked into his soy sauce-glazed chicken with spicy fried eggplant and rice.

READ MORE: Travel slump threatens 46 million jobs globally – latest updates

An economy class meal is served during the inaugural lunch at Restaurant A380 @Changi onboard a Singapore Airlines Airbus A380 plane at Changi International Airport in Singapore on October 24, 2020.
An economy class meal is served during the inaugural lunch at Restaurant A380 @Changi onboard a Singapore Airlines Airbus A380 plane at Changi International Airport in Singapore on October 24, 2020. (AFP)

Pricy nosh

Some settled in for a nap while waiting for their meals to be served, while others watched movies on the seat-back entertainment systems.

About half the seats were left empty, in keeping with social-distancing guidelines.

Calvin Teo, a 29-year-old civil servant and aviation buff, paid $236 (Sg$321) to be served a six-course meal in business class, saying he missed flying and hoped to recreate the experience.

"Of course the feeling of actually flying will be better, because there's the excitement of going to a new destination, to explore a new destination, and even though we can't do it now due to Covid, this is a good substitute for now, to recreate the feels of taking a long-haul flight," he told AFP.

The most expensive option is a $472.72 (Sg$642) eight-course meal in a first-class suite, while the cheapest costs  $39.03 (Sg$53) and consists of a three-course meal in economy class.

READ MORE: American, United to furlough 32,000 as bailout hopes fade

A couple and their children dine in business class during the inaugural lunch at Restaurant A380 @Changi onboard a Singapore Airlines Airbus A380 plane at Changi International Airport in Singapore on October 24, 2020.
A couple and their children dine in business class during the inaugural lunch at Restaurant A380 @Changi onboard a Singapore Airlines Airbus A380 plane at Changi International Airport in Singapore on October 24, 2020. (AFP)

Sold out tickets

A limited number of diners were also able to tour the double-decker aircraft and take selfies with pilots in the cockpit.

The tarmac meals proved surprisingly popular – the airline announced six additional sessions after more than 900 lunch tickets sold out within 30 minutes of bookings opening earlier this month.

The airline is also offering home deliveries of plane meals, but it has ditched plans for "flights to nowhere" – short journeys starting and ending at the same airport – following an outcry over the potential environmental impact.

READ MORE: Visit the largest airport museum in the world in Istanbul

Diners watch movies while dining in business class during the inaugural lunch at Restaurant A380 @Changi onboard a Singapore Airlines Airbus A380 plane at Changi International Airport in Singapore on October 24, 2020.
Diners watch movies while dining in business class during the inaugural lunch at Restaurant A380 @Changi onboard a Singapore Airlines Airbus A380 plane at Changi International Airport in Singapore on October 24, 2020. (AFP)
Source: AFP