The coronavirus pandemic has sparked creative initiatives from major airlines that are now trying their hand at in-flight meals home delivery services and even promoting online products. In such a way, airlines are planning to compensate for the revenue decline during the recent months at least a little.

1. Launching in-flight meals delivery services

Cathay Pacific Airways (flagship airline from Hong Kong) has launched food delivery in an area close to the airport. Previously, the airline's catering service prepared 83,000 meals for passengers of 293 flights a day, which is 283 meals per flight. But now there are only a few dozen flights a day happening in Hong Kong. In August, an average of 22 passengers passed through Hong Kong airport for each plane.

Initially, meals-on-wheels food delivery was only available to airport employees, but the pandemic has made some changes. The company management understands that most local employees are interested in buying takeaway lunches and dinners to adhere to the quarantine social distancing rules. Therefore, it was decided to deliver lunches and dinners to those who live in the airport area and in Tung Chung.

Not so long ago, Cathay Pacific introduced a new line of products dedicated to Boeing 747 to further boost online sales among its 12 million Asia Miles members worldwide. The company has an audacious goal of becoming Amazon in the airline world. Cathay Pacific is inviting users to get an Apple MacBook for gathering 222,520 air miles, or pay most of the laptop's price (namely, $1,290) in cash. With 21,650 miles, you can get a Breville kettle.

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2. Offering limited collections and unique opportunities

In addition to the usual goods, airlines lure shoppers with limited collections and unique opportunities. Thai Airways (Thai airlines) has opened a themed restaurant with airplane seats, stewardesses and boarding passes (this is a souvenir for more immersion into an atmosphere of flight). Due to closed borders, Thai airlines began to perform "flights over the ground," albeit in a limited mode.

Last month, Taiwanese airlines offered local residents a flight around the island. The flight departed from Taipei and landed there – all tickets were sold out.

3. Selling signature packages with in-flight goods

Australian airline Qantas last month offered an $18 package for flying lovers, which included its acclaimed business class pajamas, amenity kit and in-flight snacks, which sold out in a matter of hours. The airline also brought back day trips over Antarctica. The flight lasts up to 14 hours and costs about $903.

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4. Hosting art exhibitions at airports

British Airways hosted an exhibition in the airport lounges and headquarters of 17 art objects from its collection. They raised nearly $3 million in sales of works by renowned artists such as Bridget Riley and Damien Hirst.

5. Offering air excursions

The Japanese airline All Nippon Airways offers its customers a Hawaiian-style "air excursion" to nowhere. It lasts 90 minutes and takes place on one of the new expensive Airbus A380 aircraft with 520 seats. The demand for the unique event exceeded supply: more than 330 people were willing to pay from $129 for the economy class to $470 for the business class.

The COVID-19 pandemic has shown that airlines need to look for an alternative way to make money. The bottom line is that airlines are essentially an air mall. Airlines bring customers to their destination, but they also have the purchasing power that can be realized through e-commerce.