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The coronavirus is making airlines come up with unusual flights from Australia

March 24, 2020
3 min read
Qantas-A380-at-Sydney-Airport-SYD-3
The coronavirus is making airlines come up with unusual flights from Australia
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In another example of how the COVID-19 pandemic is forcing airlines to adapt in ways not seen before, Qantas will fly an extraordinary nonstop service from Australia to London aboard an Airbus A380. It's only the second time that a scheduled flight will link Australia to Europe nonstop.

According to Airlineroute, the Australian airline is temporarily changing its flagship Sydney – Singapore – London Heathrow service to instead stop in Darwin, in northern Australia — both ways. The modified flight is scheduled to operate only until March 26 (March 27 from London), before Qantas halts all international flying for the moment. Darwin to Heathrow covers 8,620 miles, a very long haul but still within the range of the A380. For example, Qantas routinely flies the giant jet on its Dallas-Fort Worth to Sydney route, which is just as long.

This is also going to be the second-longest scheduled A380 flight, just behind the Auckland, New Zealand, to Dubai service on Emirates which covers 8,824 miles. That flight was still operating on Tuesday, ahead of Emirates suspending most of its flights this week due to the coronavirus pandemic and a lot of A380s being grounded.

The other scheduled flight linking Australia to Europe without stopping is also on Qantas, which began flying from Perth to London Heathrow in 2018. That 9,000-mile flight is covered by a Boeing 787-9.

The reason Qantas had to ditch the Singapore stop and refuel in Darwin instead is that Singapore has closed its airport to flyers in transit. Passengers aboard flight QF1 to London and QF2 to Sydney will not leave the plane in Darwin as the A380 gets refueled, according to Australian travel news site Executive Traveller.

The pandemic has produced another unusual effect when it comes to flights to Australia: the first-ever commercial flight there by Israeli flag carrier El Al.

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The Jerusalem Post reported that flight LY88, carrying Israeli citizens evacuating from Australia, left Perth for Tel Aviv on Tuesday. The Israeli embassies in Australia and New Zealand, the paper said, had organized the evacuation of about 230 people who were on this flight, 80 of whom came from New Zealand. With 238 seats, the El Al 787-8 that operated the flight would have had enough room for everybody.

In a stark illustration of how the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting air traffic worldwide, there were only two El Al aircraft airborne anywhere in the world at 10:45 a.m. ET on Tuesday. One was Flight 88 from Perth, and the other Flight 324 from Paris to Tel Aviv, a Boeing 737, flight-tracking site Flightradar24 showed. Every one of the airline's other 43 planes was on the ground.

Screenshot from Flightradar24
Featured image by (Photo by Ryan Patterson / The Points Guy)

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TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

10XEarn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
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  • Intro Offer
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    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    740-850
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Why We Chose It

The Capital One Venture X card is one of the best all-round travel credit cards ever launched. Not only is it offering a tremendous welcome bonus, but cardholders can earn tons of miles on everyday spending and receive a 10,000-mile anniversary bonus to boot. Its annual fee is $395, but cardholders can count on up to $300 in statement credits toward travel booked through Capital One Travel each year and other valuable benefits like access to Priority Pass lounges and Capital One’s own growing family of airport lounges.

Pros

  • Excellent welcome offer worth 75,000 miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months.
  • Up to $300 in annual travel statement credits toward bookings make through Capital One Travel.
  • 10,000 bonus miles (worth $100 toward travel) each account anniversary.

Cons

  • The $395 annual fee might be expensive for some, but this card’s benefits provide much more value than that.
  • If you don’t travel frequently, this might not be the best card for you.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on all other purchases
  • Unlimited complimentary access for you and two guests to 1,300+ lounges, including Capital One Lounges and the Partner Lounge Network
  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Use your Venture X miles to easily cover travel expenses, including flights, hotels, rental cars and more—you can even transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
  • Named editors' choice for "Best New Credit Card of 2021" by The Points Guy
  • Earn 10 miles per dollar when you book on Turo, the world's largest car sharing marketplace, through May 16, 2023