Qantas launches Norfolk Island flights from Sydney, Brisbane

With many itching to travel, Qantas adds the Australian external territory to its map, from which there's no hotel quarantine.

By Chris Chamberlin, March 17 2021
Qantas launches Norfolk Island flights from Sydney, Brisbane

Qantas will operate regular flights from both Sydney and Brisbane to Norfolk Island over the coming months, giving travellers the chance to fly ‘overseas’, yet without the burden of border restrictions or hotel quarantine.

From March 19 2021, the airline will run three flights per week from Sydney as well as three flights each week from Brisbane, “initially” for a three-month period: hinting there could be an extension.

Norfolk Island is an external territory of Australia, around 2-2.5 hours east of the mainland.

That puts these flights outside the purview of Australia’s international ‘travel ban’ – although the services will depart from (and arrive back into) the international terminals at Sydney and Brisbane.

Even so, passports are not required, with an Australian driver’s licence or proof of age card sufficient ID: although passports are “preferred” by the Australian Government, to help expedite passenger processing at each end.

“With international borders closed, we know Australians are looking for new holiday experiences and Norfolk Island is a destination that has so much to offer,” said Qantas Domestic & International CEO Andrew David.

“We’ll be promoting these new flights to millions of our frequent flyers across the country – with seamless connections from our large domestic network through Sydney or Brisbane – who will have the opportunity to earn and redeem points on flights to Norfolk Island.”

As Norfolk Island has not been declared a 'hotspot' by New South Wales or Queensland, there are no restrictions on entering these states from Norfolk Island, and thus, no compulsory quarantine.

Qantas Norfolk Island flight schedules, price

With one-way fares in economy starting at $412 from Sydney or $390 from Brisbane, flights are now on sale as below:

Route

Days served

Flight number

Flight times

Duration

Sydney to Norfolk Island

Monday, Wednesday, Friday

QF179

9:30am-1:10pm

2hrs 40min

Norfolk Island to Sydney

Monday, Wednesday, Saturday

QF180

2:10pm-4pm

2hrs 50min

Brisbane to Norfolk Island

Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday

QF183

9:30am-1:45pm

2hrs 15min

Norfolk Island to Brisbane

Tuesday, Thursday, Friday

QF184

2:10pm-2:35pm

2hrs 25min

These routes will all be served by Qantas’ Boeing 737 jets, offering both business class and economy.

However, business class passengers – as well as eligible frequent flyers – will need to make do without access to the Qantas international lounges in Sydney or Brisbane, as these remain closed for now.

“There are no plans to open the international terminal lounges at this time,” a Qantas spokesperson confirmed to Executive Traveller today.

As Norfolk Island isn’t a destination normally served by Qantas, the airline has no lounge available there either: although passengers taking domestic connections to or from these flights will enjoy lounge access as usual prior to those domestic services.

For example, an eligible traveller flying from Melbourne to Sydney and onwards to Norfolk Island would still receive lounge access in Melbourne before the Sydney-bound leg, and vice versa.

Passengers booking using frequent flyer points can expect to part with 55,200 Qantas Points for a return business class ticket, or 24,000 Qantas Points for a return economy ticket from either city.

Taxes, fess and carrier charges are payable on those reward bookings, totalling $250 return from Sydney, or $221 return from Brisbane, in addition to the points required.

Duty-free shopping for Norfolk Island travellers

A less-publicised perk of travelling from Norfolk Island is that passengers can make use of the ‘international’ tax-free shopping allowances and duty-free alcohol privileges on their return to the Australian mainland.

This is distinctly different from other Australian 'domestic' routes operating through international terminals, where an orange 'D sticker' is appended to the boarding pass, and duty-free shopping is barred.

That means each adult traveller can carry:

  • Up to $900 of GST-free shopping, plus
  • Up to 2.25 litres of duty-free alcohol, plus
  • Up to 25 grams of tobacco, plus an open packet

As well, that $900 allowance can cover general goods purchased on Norfolk Island, or items bought on the Australian mainland prior to travel for which a TRS GST refund claim has been made, which can be lodged upon departure from Sydney or Brisbane.

Read: Seven easy ways to speed through your TRS airport GST refunds

Qantas’ news follows several ad-hoc repatriation flights it has made to Norfolk Island in recent weeks due to Air New Zealand’s suspension of its own Brisbane-Norfolk Island route.

The Kiwi carrier normally operates this domestic service using a plane and crew that arrives into Brisbane from Auckland.

However, those Auckland-Brisbane flights had been paused due to Queensland Government restrictions on New Zealand arrivals, having a knock-on effect for Norfolk Island.

Also read: Gov't to subsidise half-price Qantas, Virgin holiday flights

Chris Chamberlin

Chris Chamberlin is the Associate Editor of Executive Traveller, and lives by the motto that a journey of a thousand miles begins not just with a single step, but also a strong latte, a theatre ticket, and later in the day, a good gin and tonic.

AT
AT

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

14 Sep 2012

Total posts 346

I don’t understand why Norfolk is not a permanent port on the QF domestic network anyway, Lord Lowe Island seems to work with a daily flight. Even if it’s Govt subsidised why wouldn’t the AU Govt pay Qantas to serve Norfolk rather than Air NZ?

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

04 Mar 2014

Total posts 182

I think the contract is chosen by the Norfolk Island Gov themselves....and im guessing Air NZ was cheaper than QF

AT
AT

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

14 Sep 2012

Total posts 346

Fair enough, and I guess that’s also why it gets such low promotional coverage, if any at all. I think with Qantas flying to Norfolk it will raise its profile as a destination, just like Qantas does to Lord Howe Island and Hamilton Island etc. 

ajd
ajd

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

27 Nov 2014

Total posts 49

I definitely think QF is in a better position than NZ to promote the destination to Australians and raise its profile.

ajd
ajd

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

27 Nov 2014

Total posts 49

The "Norfolk Island Government" no longer exists as of the abolition of self-government several years ago - the contract is awarded by the Commonwealth Department of Infrastructure. Even so - the federal government is required to seek best value for money rather than supporting one supplier over another for other reasons.

12 Feb 2013

Total posts 46

They may as well consider flights to Christmas and Coco Islands whilst they're at it.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

25 Feb 2014

Total posts 20

If only..not sure 737 would have the legs. Or fueling capacity..would be a great winter destination. I would think price would be outrageous...

17 Mar 2021

Total posts 2

A Qantas 737 would have no problems operating to Christmas Island or Cocos Islands.

Alliance F70's, VA A320's and Toll 737's already operate there.

United Airlines - Mileage Plus

12 Sep 2011

Total posts 190

Nothing available for Business reward flights  at least on dates i searched

I had difficulty finding these at first but noticed that Norfolk Island searches behave like 'international' searches, in that business class rewards aren't shown next to economy: you have to change the tab to "Business" at the top to see them. As well, the reward seats on the flight back to Australia don't appear for selection until after you've chosen a reward seat on the flight out of Australia, if you're doing a return flight search.

BA Gold

01 Apr 2012

Total posts 165

WOW a 25min turnaround for a 737 in the case of the Bris - NI timetable.  Must be a record for a legacy carrier.  Even Ryanair schedules in a min of 35min.

It will be interesting to see how arrivals in the international terminal would work as everything is set up for hotel quarantine and they would be the only passengers who can walk out like the old days.  

17 Mar 2021

Total posts 2

Don't forget people arriving from New Zealand. I'd assume it would be a similar process.

ajd
ajd

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

27 Nov 2014

Total posts 49

The NZ flights to Norfolk were still running even before the one-way NZ bubble launched, they've been managing it ever since the border first closed. And in Perth they also have to manage flights to Christmas and Cocos via the international terminal.

ajd
ajd

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

27 Nov 2014

Total posts 49

I've just booked a return J ticket - I've been wanting to go to Norfolk for a while, but the high fares of the Air NZ flights put me off, while I'm sitting on loads of QF points that I haven't found a good excuse to spend. (This also means that along with my trip to Christmas and Cocos later this year I'll have visited all the inhabited external territories...)

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

29 May 2020

Total posts 20

Are these flights replacing Air NZ or supplementing?

ajd
ajd

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

27 Nov 2014

Total posts 49

per https://www.regional.gov.au/territories/norfolk_island/administrator/media/2021/ni-a-mr-202120.aspx - QF is replacing NZ on this service for the 3 month period, with NZ remaining as the long term supplier

Why do they have to use international terminals for what is declared to be a domestic flight? Seems overkill logistically and inconvenient, particularly for passengers transiting within Australia.

And if the domestic terminal could be used there would be lounges, too...

That's a very good question, and I was wondering the same thing myself. As this isn't actually an 'international' flight, why can't it use the domestic terminals where at least there are lounges and some other cafes and food outlets open?

ajd
ajd

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

27 Nov 2014

Total posts 49

This is something that the Norfolk Island Administrator has been asking for, as it reduces the operational costs for the airlines significantly. I believe the reason for the current situation is that even though Norfolk has been reintegrated with the Australian immigration system (it used to have a separate immigration and visa system from the mainland) it still sits outside the Australian quarantine and customs zones, so passengers are still required to undergo border checks (and on the flip side, you can shop duty free and use TRS). Same applies to Cocos and Christmas Islands which also use international terminals despite being technically domestic.

Thank you

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

29 May 2020

Total posts 20

It’s been from International for as long as I can remember.

Thai Airways International - Royal Orchid Plus

15 Jan 2013

Total posts 347

this will be the first time Qantas have done Norfolk Island in close to 45 years.they gave it up to East West and later Ansett till 2001/2002 and some local airline of theirs till NZ took over in recent times.It's a place I would consider a trip to if the price is right.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

29 May 2020

Total posts 20

Ok it seems as if QF are taking over NZ flights.  Just had our booking transferred from NZ to QF.


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