Mr. Harif is one of thousands of people in Brunei, Taiwan, Japan and Australia who have started booking flights that start and end in the same place. Some airlines call these “scenic flights”; others are more direct, calling them “flights to nowhere.”

“I didn’t realize how much I’d missed traveling — missed flying — until the moment the captain’s voice came on the speaker with the welcome and safety announcement,” said Mr. Harif of his 85-minute experience on Royal Brunei Airlines. On its flight to nowhere, which the airline calls the “dine and fly” program, Royal Brunei serves local cuisine to passengers while flying over the country.

At a time when most people are stuck at home and unable to travel, and the global airline industry has been decimated by the pandemic, flights that take off and return to the airport a few hours later allow airlines to keep staff working. The practice also satisfies that itch to travel — even if it’s just being on a plane again.