YVR Chinese New Year

Lunar New Year festivities at Vancouver International Airport last year. Image via Vancouver International Airport

APEX Insight: Airlines and airports around the world are preparing for the Lunar New Year on February 16 with festive in-flight dishes, lion dance performances and more.

Chinese New Year, also knows as the Spring Festival, is traditionally celebrated by visiting family and friends for special meals and gift giving, making it a busy time for airlines and airports around the world. The Year of the Dog will take off on February 16 this year, marking the second new moon after the winter solstice.

According to the National Development and Reform Commission, air travel will likely top 65 million trips from February 1 to March 12, during the 40-day high-traffic Chunyun period – a 10 percent increase compared to last year. To accommodate the increase in passengers, several airlines, like Air Asia, have scheduled additional flights. But not all have been permitted to accommodate this busy period. Due to withheld approval over flight routes between Beijing and Taiwan, China Eastern Airlines and Xiamen Airlines have canceled 176 flights to Taiwan.

Despite some travelers requiring alternate arrangements, air travel will still see a surge. To mark the occasion and celebrate with travelers, many airports plan to decorate with red, which represents happiness and good fortune in Chinese culture. Hong Kong International Airport will hold an eye-dotting ceremony, featuring performances sponsored by home-based carriers Cathay Pacific and Hong Kong Airlines.

“A series of celebrations will be held at terminals, including daily lion dance performances and chances to meet and greet the God of Fortune,” shared a spokesperson for Airport Authority Hong Kong. “Chinese-New-Year-themed paper windmills and red packets filled with chocolate gold coins will be given away to travelers during the God of Fortune Meet-and-Greet. Surprise gifts will be delivered to lucky passengers on selected flights.” Vancouver International Airport will also host an eye-dotting ceremony and several traditional Chinese dance performances, in addition to paper lantern making.

Food is an important part of celebrating the Chinese New Year. Hong Kong Airlines will be delighting passengers with gifts upon check-in and serving traditional desserts like Palmiers sweet puff pastries in business class and white-sesame-and-peanut puff pastries in economy-class on flights departing from Hong Kong. Singapore Airlines will serve special Lunar New Year dishes, such as Yusheng salad, throughout the festive season in all cabin classes on select flights. ANA will offer matcha-flavored cookies to all passengers on Chinese routes.

Jenn Wint is a Vancouver-based communications enthusiast and writer, passionate about good stories, laughter, world travel and excessive jellybean consumption. She is currently training to hike to Macchu Pichu and tick Peru off her bucket list.