Mainland social media has been stunned by a man in China who flew a plane to take his seven-year-old daughter to their rural hometown for Lunar New Year to avoid the annual heavy traffic jams.
The man, surnamed Wang, from eastern China’s Anhui province, who trains pilots, said he had been flying his daughter home in the two-seater aircraft for years for festivals and holidays.
Wang said it took them 50 minutes to fly to his parents’ home, two hours quicker than driving, and the little girl became so used to it she would nap on the journeys.
He said all he needed to do was apply for use of the route a few hours in advance, and check he was permitted to park at the flying camp near his parents’ home.
Wang said the small airplane they used cost 1.1 million yuan (US$155,000), and could fly 1,200km on a full tank of fuel.
China’s Spring Festival travel rush, also known as Chunyun, is the world’s largest annual human migration, because it is a popular time for family reunions.
This year’s Chunyun is expected to last for 40 days from January 26 to March 5 around the Lunar New Year, which falls on February 10. It is estimated that a record 9 billion passenger journeys will take place during the period, according to China’s Ministry of Transport.
The estimated number is almost double the 4.7 billion trips made during last year’s Spring Festival, and nine times that of 2022, when the strict zero-Covid policy still had a huge impact on people’s life.
Up to 7.2 billion trips are estimated to be self-driving, with the remaining 1.8 billion made via public transport on trains, buses, planes and boats, according to the Ministry of Transport.
A person, surnamed Peng, told the mainland media outlet Jiemian News that he had been driving 1,800km to home during Spring Festivals since 2020. He used to go home by train or plane, but he had changed his habit since the pandemic.
Each year during the Spring Festival, traffic jams on expressways are recorded across the nation, and create extra stress for those commuting for work.
Many commented online about how they envied Wang and his daughter’s mode of transport, especially at the busiest time of year.
“What I consider a luxury childhood dream is someone else’s real life,” one person wrote on Douyin.
“What a brilliant way to avoid Spring Festival traffic jams,” said another.