The Australian Cricket Team's all-business class Perth-to-UK flight

The white-ball squad chartered a jet fitted out with flatbed business class seats from tip to tail.

By David Flynn , August 25 2020
The Australian Cricket Team's all-business class Perth-to-UK flight

Australian's cricket squad is now resting up at the mid-England city of Derby, ahead of next month's round of T20 and One Day International matches, after an 19 hour journey involving two stopovers at Colombo and Dubai in a chartered all-business class jet from French 'boutique airline' La Compagnie.

In previous years the team would hop a commercial flight – and if it wasn't for Covid-19, that probably would have been the Qantas Airbus A380 from Sydney to London via Singapore, or the Qantas Boeing 787 non-stop from Perth to London.

But with all international Qantas flights grounded – while all of the A380s and most of the Boeing 787s stand idle in California's Mojave Desert – Cricket Australia went casting around for an alternative.

They found it in the grounded fleet of La Compagnie, which usually shuttles a pair of all-business class Airbus A321neo jets daily between France (Paris and Nice) and New York, but in March 2020 suspended flights until mid-September due to travel restrictions between the two countries.

Outfitted for high-flying executives, the Airbus A321neo also proved a suitable ride for twenty-one of Australia's elite cricketers.

La Compagnie flew the jet – chartered to Cricket Australia at an undisclosed price – from Paris to Mumbai to Perth, where it collected the white-ball squad, most of whom who had in turn flown in from ports around the country, including a Qantas Boeing 737 from Sydney.

With 76  business class seats from tip to tail, the A321neo offered plenty of room for the players, coaches and support staff.

The seats all convert into a fully lie-flat bed – handy for the overnight legs of the journey, or when you're simply too tired or too bored to do anything else but nap.

In addition to the 15-inch inflight entertainment screens and noise-cancelling headphones, the jet is comes with fast inflight WiFi – although it's not known if this was active for the charter flight.

However, as the small single-aisle A321neo lacks the globe-striding range of the Airbus A380 or the Boeing 787 Dreamliner, the journey from Perth to Derby was divided into three legs.

The flight left Perth in the evening of Sunday August 23 for a 7h40m trek to Colombo. One hour later, it was wheels-up for the short four hour hop to Dubai.

Then it was time for the final leg of the journey – a 7h30m direct flight to East Midlands Airport, which is usually served by low-cost airlines such as Ryanair and Jet2 for UK domestic and European short-range destinations.

The team will reportedly spend several days in a hotel attached to Derby's cricket ground before the three-hour bus ride to Southampton's Rose Bowl, where the first of three T20 matches will be played from September 4-6, with three One Day Internationals at Manchester's Old Trafford from September 11-16.

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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.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

15 Jan 2013

Total posts 45

Sad that an Australian airline, probably the first time in a long time couldn't provide an Australian Sporting team a flight option. No money for Sponsorship and no suitable planes. 

17 Jun 2020

Total posts 92

So Australians are being barred from travelling overseas to attend to important business or even to see dying relatives. Australian citizens also cannot return home due to arbitrary flight caps. Yet it is OK for celebrities/sport stars/billionaires/politicians to swan in and out at their discretion, often without even needing to quarantine at a hotel.

I forgot, we are all in this together. 

BAEC

10 Jul 2019

Total posts 13

If only we had all chosen to pursue a sports career! 

18 Jul 2018

Total posts 19

Yes that's exactly right. What, did you think we were in an egalitarian society or something delusional like that? ;)

15 Aug 2018

Total posts 20

They claim they have separate quarantine arrangements on return that are “ not part of the cap”. What rubbish. If they can come in “not part of the cap” then the cap is too low. Many Aussies are stuck overseas and can’t get back due to these caps. 

Etihad - Etihad Guest

29 May 2019

Total posts 3

Exactly what I was thinking!

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

27 Nov 2017

Total posts 24

Presumably the same level of disdain exists for the Wellington Phoenix who took a charter into Australia last month for the resumption of the A League, or AFL teams who are regularly criss-crossing the country on charters as part of the continuing season? Sport hasn't quite ceased to exist during COVID-19, and I don't think they are swanning in and out at their discretion (a quite ludicrous statement).

31 Dec 2014

Total posts 31

Absolutely. If they are allowed to travel for their work / business, I should be permitted to travel for mine.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

24 Jan 2018

Total posts 330

#metoo

12 Jul 2019

Total posts 3

Not only are we all in this together, we're all equal......unfortunately some are more equal then us!! ;)

08 Feb 2018

Total posts 94

interested to know how La Compagnie crewed this flight?

Qantas

19 Apr 2012

Total posts 978

dm 12: presumably a French crew but they would have to have brought a reserve crew or two as well with them for the 48 hour? round trip. A long time stuck in a plane even if napping most of the time.

31 Dec 2014

Total posts 31

I don’t remember seeing “playing sport” as one of the exemptions for leaving the country on the border force website. I’ll have to have another look.

Will their return be counted in the inbound passenger caps that are currently stranding many Australians overseas?

Remember team: we’re all in this together!

03 Oct 2019

Total posts 1

There has been race car drivers travel to the States within the 4 weeks and that is from Melbourne (shutdown and all) that I know of. They had to go via Dubai.

Qantas

19 Apr 2012

Total posts 978

Syd it comes under (from the list) ‘critical industry’ or ‘national interest’, and I’m sure the minister (Dutton) does the defining...take your pick!!!! Indeed!!!

Qantas

19 Apr 2012

Total posts 978

...there are also a few tennis players and golfers out and about, also the Australian Rugby team is off to NZ in a month or two; so I think our Pete is signing a few exemption forms.

05 Mar 2015

Total posts 108

Cricket is obviously an essential service in the national interest as well as having something to do with being an export industry LOL

31 Dec 2014

Total posts 31

After watching the Victorian Covid ads I've decided to start my own one person men's netball squad. I'll be submitting my updated exemption request tomorrow.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

24 Jan 2018

Total posts 330

Pete ... 'netball' ... really?  Please ... something more civil, that netball can be such a nasty game.  

04 Dec 2017

Total posts 57

All that way in an A320....they can have it.

QF

11 Jul 2014

Total posts 492

The interesting point I see is that they have the cash to do this not like some other sporting codes that are crying poor.

Singapore Airlines - KrisFlyer

09 Jun 2016

Total posts 4

The thing is they don't. CA recently let a heap of staff go.

05 Dec 2018

Total posts 149

As long as their family are not permitted like AFL, I don’t see an issue. Seeing the WAG crew fly around was utter BS, even worse some could not even adhere to the rules.  

11 Jul 2020

Total posts 36

It's all about profit over people  (the public) this is how the world operates these days where the public are expendable so long as a profit continues to be made. So what if the public gets sick or dies from covid-19 so long as the business communities wheels go round and round making money, public safety does rate with them,  we are just an unfortunate casualty standing in the way of their profit.

26 Aug 2020

Total posts 1

So, I can't go to my son's wedding in London, but the cricket team get an exemption?  Same as the golfers, the tennis players, and some football players.  So, if I was to wear cricket white pants, hold a golf club, a tennis racquet, and accessorise with a soccer ball, would it be ok for me to go???  What a sham! 

17 Jun 2020

Total posts 92

To be fair it is not just sport stars, you would also be OK for you to go if you were a former PM who flip flopped on Brexit.

https://www.smh.com.au/world/europe/abbott-s-new-british-trade-role-called-into-question-as-gig-exposes-european-jaunt-20200827-p55pp2.html

In seriousness, I do hope sanity and equality prevails by the time your son has his wedding. 

17 Jun 2020

Total posts 92

You don't need to be a sports star, you can also be a former PM that has flip flopped on Brexit. Another case of one rule for the many, another rule for the few. I hope sanity can prevail and you can attend your son's wedding.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

12 Jan 2017

Total posts 12

Swinging the conversation back to aviation. I flew La Compangie a few times about 5 years ago when they were operating flights between London Luton and Newark on a 757.

It was pitched as all business, but more like business from the early 90's with a reclining seat, iPads for entertainment and single tray meals. On the plus side, the discounted return fares were only about £100-£150 more than BA / AA economy.

I would have classified them more as an all premium economy airline at the time, but worth the hassle of longer commutes to/from both airports.

I'd be interested to hear how the flat bed version in the neo rates if anyone has flown them recently.

03 Jan 2012

Total posts 96

The wierdest thing in this article is that 21 of fittest and healthiest Australians, in an age bracket around the age of 25 who are actually at zero risk of dying from Covid 19 are willing to voluntarily comply with wearing a face mask.  Why any person would comply is beyond me.

Qantas

19 Apr 2012

Total posts 978

521303 it is not death they are worried about but the slow recovery rate, diminished lung capacity (shortness of breath) and chronic fatigue symptoms that many in that age group suffer from when they catch COVID, which is the last thing that a well paid sportsperson wants to be hit with when their medical insurance may not cover it and much of their income is appearance based.

16 Dec 2016

Total posts 41

Remember that a 25 year old is amongst the people that have died in Victoria so please don't peddle ignorance here.

05 Jan 2018

Total posts 37

he had stage 4 cancer or something pretty serious. there's some mixed reporting abt this 

GSP
GSP

24 Feb 2017

Total posts 14

I'm surprised it hasn't been mentioned about the type of games they're playing.  Despite all the valid points above, they are only going over for a couple of T20 games and a few 50 over one day games - all games relatively inconsequential in the cricket world.  If it was for a 4 or 5 test ashes series or they somehow organised a T20 or 50 over World Cup, I could see the reasoning for wanting to move heaven and earth to make this happen but for the types of games been played it does seem unusual for the expense and effort (perhaps their is some commercial tie up to make it worthwhile which I'm not aware of)/

P
P

17 Jan 2018

Total posts 66

I prefer the story when men were men and the Australian cricket team flew economy and there was a competition for who could drink the most beers. Sadly those days are long gone. A bunch of overpaid, privalaged premedonnas. 

GSP
GSP

24 Feb 2017

Total posts 14

I wonder if David Boon tried getting on that flight?

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

24 Jan 2018

Total posts 330

Boon = National Treasure = Benaud+Walker+Greig MIA = too risky = NATIONAL TREASURE = he can't go (so don't argue, David, end of story).

P
P

17 Jan 2018

Total posts 66

Of course the real issue is the rediculous restrictions placed on Australians leaving?? and returning to the country!! Nowhere else in the first world are there such draconian restrictions which are going to kill the economy, cause massive unemployment and ruin people's lives for years to come! Never has the Lucky Country tag been more appropriate. 

AT
AT

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

14 Sep 2012

Total posts 313

Qantas and Virgin imploding with grounded planes and out of work staff and the national cricket team hire offshore firm La Compagnie to take them to the UK. WHAT A JOKE!

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

27 Nov 2017

Total posts 24

I think you just answered why they used La Compagnie......all their the planes that could do the journey are grounded. 

Qantas

19 Apr 2012

Total posts 978

ZQN the Qantas A333s can do it much the same or better than the A320s and they are busily flying freight around. The cost for that size plane (too big for the task) plus crewing issues could have been the sticking point.


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