Qantas considers more Boeing 787 sightseeing 'flights to nowhere'

With Qantas' 'Great Southern Land' joyflight selling out in ten minutes, more scenic trips could follow.

By David Flynn, September 18 2020
Qantas considers more Boeing 787 sightseeing 'flights to nowhere'

Qantas says it will "definitely look at" running more joy flights which begin and end at the same airport, following the sell-out success of the initial Great Southern Land tour.

Despite prices ranging from $3,787 in business class to $787 in economy, all 149 seats on the Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner were snapped up in ten minutes – a rate of one seat every four seconds, making this what a Qantas spokesperson described as "probably the fastest selling flight in Qantas' history."

No surprise, then, that the airline is already looking at repeating the exercise. "We definitely look at doing more of these scenic flights while we all wait for borders to open," the spokesperson confirmed. "People clearly miss travel and the experience of flying."

The scenic route

Passengers on the October 10 jaunt will certainly get their fill of flying, spending seven hours aloft and taking in sights from the New South Wales and Queensland coasts, including the Whitsundays and the Great Barrier Reef, to Uluru and Kata Tjuta in Australia's 'red centre'.

However, Executive Traveller understands that the border restrictions and lockdowns currently in place in Victoria, Queensland and  Western Australia would likely rule out Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth for those flights, due to the necessary involvement of Sydney-based personnel.

“So many of our frequent flyers are used to being on a plane every other week and have been telling us they miss the experience of flying as much as the destinations themselves," Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce says.

“Australia is a great land and home to unique wonders like Uluru and the Whitsundays, so we know that it will be truly special to experience this beautiful country from the comfort and freedom of the sky."

Cost neutral, carbon neutral

Despite raising just over $200,000 in ticket sales in that 10-minute dash, Qantas says the first Great Southern Land flight will operate on a "cost neutral basis", with the relatively high price of some fares reflecting that middle seats were not offered for sale in order to allow more passengers to enjoy the views.

The airline also said the flights would be carbon neutral, with Qantas purchasing carbon offsets against the estimated 40 tonnes of jet fuel burned during the flight – an arrangement panned by some critics.

“Most carbon-offsetting schemes have been shown to be ineffective in terms of their ability to absorb the necessary carbon, or they simply pay into existing schemes which don’t actually compensate for your flight," said Flight Free UK director Anna Hughes told The Independent in relation to Qantas' forthcoming Antarctic sightseeing flights.

“In addition, carbon-offset schemes often mean that people feel that they have dealt with the impact of their flight, so they continue to fly. The best way to offset carbon emissions is to not produce them in the first place."

Singapore Airlines is also said to be planning scenic flights for late October which will begin and end at Changi Airport, and may be bundled with staycations at the city’s hotels plus shopping vouchers.

Last month, Japan’s ANA sold tickets for a charter flight to nowhere, while two Taiwan carriers launched similar campaigns – Starlux Airlines introduced a “pretending to go abroad” journey and EVA Air filled all 309 seats on a special Father’s Day flight.

David

David Flynn is the Editor-in-Chief of Executive Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.

Eli
Eli

30 Jul 2015

Total posts 98

So let me get this straight.   Covid19/Coronavirus is a HIGHLY contagious disease, that spreads easily person to person, especially inside.

YET.... QF is happy to put on joyride flights for 7 hours to nowhere! ...selling all seats.  Ok, ummm, Ok.

12 Dec 2012

Total posts 995

There has never been a confirmed case of someone being infected while in flight, even while sitting near other people known to be infected.

Every single case where someone has tested positive after a flight were infected before the flight once incubation periods are taken into account.

The air conditioning systems present in commercial aircraft largely remove the risk of on board transmission. Air on board is forced down towards the floor, away from any entry points on someones body that would permit infection. The air is also filtered and completely replaced with clean air from outside every few minutes.

The risk of transmission while on board an aircraft is very low.

Jfk
Jfk

18 Jul 2020

Total posts 4

Won’t be long and it will happen 

Jfk
Jfk

18 Jul 2020

Total posts 4

But we should support Qantas .. they are trying for us all ...

19 Jun 2020

Total posts 16

Let’s put those air conditioners in pubs then. 

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

28 Oct 2011

Total posts 390

The airflow depends to a big extent on the air being forced through by the speed of the aircraft. By all means, make the pub move at 900km/h and it could have similar airflow systems!

12 Dec 2018

Total posts 20

Best.  Comment.  Ever.

12 Dec 2018

Total posts 20

Sorry John Phelan, my comment was meant to follow stargazer's.  While I applaud your science, and logic, I still prefer the thought of those AC units somehow allowing me pack to the pub.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

25 Oct 2019

Total posts 10

selling all seats??? They sold 149 in a plane that holds 236. Not exactly full Is it.

09 Mar 2015

Total posts 32

Not "selling all seats", as the article points out, only 149 seats were sold and the Qantas 787 has 236 seats, also middle seats were not sold. And plenty of articles over the past months have pointed out that aircraft are actually very safe compared to regular indoor environments due to their high quality of air filtration.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

04 Mar 2014

Total posts 155

With our case rates i agree.

However generally im not convinced.  1 flight from DXB to PER had later 20 confirmed cases of covid - suspected to have been transmitted on board

12 Dec 2012

Total posts 995

Far more likely for those cases to have been infected while at DXB or on their way to DXB, if not before.

Etihad - Etihad Guest

06 Apr 2012

Total posts 103

Another permutation on the sightseeing flights could be to run some as day-trip excursions to regional holiday centres (eg. BNE <> Hamilton Island, SYD <> Ballina-Byron,  ADL <> Longreach etc).   Could work in with local tourism service providers to weave in local excursions.  (Much in the same way as how cruise companies work with local tourist operators to provide excursions for their passengers when they are in port for the day).

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

28 Jul 2011

Total posts 48

I'm in Melbourne so not going to happen anytime soon, but I would love a day-trip excursion to Longreach to visit the Qantas museum. Bit hard to get to any other way. 

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

21 Feb 2017

Total posts 23

I wonder if they'll include one from Perth 

24 Aug 2011

Total posts 778

As it says in the article, this is currently unlikely due to the staff being SYD based and unable to access PER due to quarantine issues.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

21 Jan 2014

Total posts 273

Yes, and the plane would have to be sprayed with special Covid disinfectant as it crossed into WA airspace in case it came to close to another plane whilst flying around, can’t be too careful. 

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

04 Mar 2014

Total posts 155

I would have thought there would be 787 crew in BNE and PER?

Or else don't see why A330s couldn't operate these flights?

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

28 Oct 2011

Total posts 390

787 bases were BNE and MEL. Possibly SYD also now, as the fleet grows. But there are certainly 787 crew based in BNE and MEL, as well as ground staff and engineers.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

26 May 2014

Total posts 450

A couple of reasons QF would use 787s rather than A330s for these flights:  3-3-3 seating over 2-4-2 seating and larger windows.  

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

05 Jun 2014

Total posts 177

A330's already being used for freight, therefore 787 flight crews need these sectors more

Jetstar Airways - Qantas Frequent Flyer

24 Aug 2018

Total posts 74

Like most sensible people, I do not question the high contagion of the Covid- 19. What I do question is Australia's States' response and the total lack of consistency of who it relates to. Clearly movie actors, British Lords and footballers can come and go, but fishermen and golfers, even individually, are is deadly peril. I applaud Qantas for scheduling these exploratory flight, the  popularity of which has been demonstrated by the uptake by travel starved Australian. Not wishing to revisit the destinations mentioned is the sole reason for not joining these travellers. I love the fact that these flights are a potential light at the end of a dreadful isolation tunnel. Now all we need for international border restrictions for demonstrably healthy travellers to be lifted. I am prepared to take responsibility for my own healthcare in the future as Imhave done in the past 20 years of air travel and I do not see why now the government wants an adverse interest.

XWu
XWu

09 May 2020

Total posts 192

In the old days the flight paths and interested pilots point out interesting sights along the way (ulhuru or Ayers Rock in those days), Darwin, Lake eyre after the 2010 floods and others, but they seemed to be quiet and lack those kind of interactions nowadays except on updates on arrival or turbulence 

Even sights like blue mountains, Gold Coast, central coast can be special if people open their eyes (and get the appropriate window seats). There were a few times Sydney Harbour and Brisbane CBD were in the perfect frame for a photo shoot through the windows. Depending on where you were landing, those holding pattern turns can be made more interesting with a camera, while you wait for a slot

The only difference for me in these special flights is that they fly lower than usual and probably go a wide circular route over the sights 

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer - Chairmans Lounge

01 Sep 2011

Total posts 388

Do you get points and status credits with these flights? 

XWu
XWu

09 May 2020

Total posts 192

Can’t remember the points but I read somewhere it was 40 status credits, which is a big deal for domestic flights, but not as good as an international return which is 2x 30 credits on a discounted exclusion fare at about the same price in the good old days, which would not come back fo quite a long time. The pandemic killed off many competition which is either starting up or trying to turn around their finances (like the old VA)

20 Sep 2020

Total posts 1

Some comments suggest that people got themselves stranded by choice. The situation world over was unprecedented and while border closure notifications were issued by Australian Govt. , stranded Aussies were struggling to even get to the airport in various countries. Some chose not to travel with the risk associated and gave it some time to settle ; just like the Govt. and many experts across the world . Now a lot of time has passed and it is being given the nature of negligence on part of the travelers.

Some conclude that stranded people are begging for help from folks back home but that's not the case and that it is a fundamental right of these stranded Aussies . Folks back home have to understand when they rant about paying costs that these stranded Aussies are also tax payees to Australian Govt. and are not asking for a free lunch.

I've seen movies where Americans lose 14 lives for saving the life of a one citizen and this gave me hope and I migrated  from a third world country to a first world country. Now my wife & kids are by themselves in Oz. Guess I got gamed..

20 Sep 2020

Total posts 1

In addition to "flights to nowhere" to help the airlines survive, can we invest in the airlines, e.g. QANTAS in the following way ? As we can't book specific flights now because of COVID-19, perhaps we can remit a payment (prepay) to QANTAS an amount of e.g $2,500.00 with no firm booking. Those who do so when flights become available can get first preference at a time convenient to them for OS travel. I imagine that when a detection system becomes available at airports, demand will increase rapidly. (There has been discussion in the media that such detection systems are imminent - in detecting COVID-19 ..... or proving someone doesn't have it). Any comments ?


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