The Amazing Race fans have a long wait until season 35 premieres on CBS. But in the meantime, we can rewatch our favorite seasons and speculate about what’s to come. And one of the hottest topics surrounding the most recent races is the charter plane. So will the charter return in The Amazing Race 35? Or do fans have to wait even longer for “airport drama” and commercial flights to make a comeback?
COVID-19 changed the format of ‘The Amazing Race’ on CBS
The cast and crew filmed three legs of The Amazing Race 33 in early 2020 before CBS shut down production and forced everyone to return home due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Filming didn’t resume until September 2021, and when it did, the competition looked a lot different.
Not every team could return, resulting in producers inviting the first two eliminated duos back to the race. CBS and the producers also created and enforced new rules to ensure the cast and crew’s safety during filming.
Every contestant had to be vaccinated. They had to wear masks when necessary. A medical team would regularly test the cast and crew for COVID-19. They would travel to places that had low rates of COVID. Contestants had as little contact with locals as possible (resulting in self-driving instead of taxis). And CBS chartered an airplane for The Amazing Race that would fly the cast and crew between destinations.
The charter flight will return in ‘The Amazing Race 35’
CBS has utilized the charter plane for the past two seasons of The Amazing Race because of worldwide travel restrictions. It just hasn’t been feasible for teams to travel on commercial flights between legs. But have COVID rates decreased enough for producers to eliminate the charter plane for The Amazing Race 35?
Unfortunately, thanks to season 35 spoilers, we know the charter plane will return for the upcoming race.
Producers filmed The Amazing Race 35 in the fall of 2022, and they used a Global Crossing Airlines Airbus 320 (instead of the Titan Airways Boeing 757 from seasons 33 and 34) to travel between legs. CBS’s concern for COVID is still high enough to warrant the charter plane, which makes sense since one team had to bow out of The Amazing Race 34 because they contracted the virus.
Will CBS ever let teams book their own flights again?
Even though we have at least one more The Amazing Race season featuring the charter plane, we know that CBS will bring back commercial flights as soon as possible.
Host Phil Keoghan wrote on Twitter in October 2022, “Booking flights will be back as soon as the ‘return to work’ COVID protocols are off our back. Right now, having a charter [equals The Amazing Race] on TV … no charter [equals] no [The Amazing Race] on TV.”
Even though CBS hasn’t renewed The Amazing Race for season 36 yet, producers have already begun casting for it, so we know it’s happening. And we believe that teams booking their own flights and “airport drama” will return in The Amazing Race 36. If the cast and crew start filming in the summer or later this year, they might be able to return to the show’s standard format.
According to The New York Times, President Joe Biden’s administration is planning on letting the COVID public health emergency expire on May 11. This could apply to the use of the charter plane in The Amazing Race, but we also have to account for other countries’ travel regulations. And only time will tell when fans will see contestants racing through airports and missing flights again.
All seasons of The Amazing Race are available to stream on Paramount+. And The Amazing Race 35 will premiere in the 2023-2024 television season on CBS.