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Qantas latest in growing list of airlines to launch scenic flight to nowhere

Sept. 18, 2020
3 min read
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Qantas latest in growing list of airlines to launch scenic flight to nowhere
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Are flights to nowhere one of the hottest new travel trend of 2020?

Qantas is now offering travel-starved Australians the option of boarding its flagship Boeing 787 aircraft next month for a joy flight departing from Sydney (SYD) airport. Executive Traveller reports the special “Great Southern Land” flight will fly over multiple states with views of iconic sights, including the Great Barrier Reef and Uluru. The special flight finishes with a low pass over Sydney Harbour before landing right where it started from, seven hours later.

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“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,” said Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce.

Related: 10 reasons you should visit Australia

The flight will operate with middle seats blocked. This is not primarily for social distancing reasons, but more so to allow passengers more space to gaze out of the windows at the views below. As for the environmental concerns of flying to nowhere, Qantas promises the special flight will be “carbon offset and operate on a cost-neutral basis.”

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The flight went on sale early on Thursday and all 134 seats sold out within 10 minutes. Passengers will earn both Qantas Frequent Flyer Points and Status Credits for the flight, a nice perk for status members.

Related: 9 things you should know about Qantas Frequent Flyer

Australia has taken one of the strictest approaches to the COVID-19 pandemic. All arriving passengers must undertake mandatory, tightly controlled hotel quarantine at their own expense. Anyone wishing to leave the country for any reason requires written government approval — Australians are unable to leave the country without it.

This has meant Qantas has not operated any long-haul flights for many months, and it does not expect to do so again until well into next year.

Similarly to how the U.K. has introduced “travel corridors” with select European destinations, Australia has done the same between some states, allowing residents to travel domestically to some other states by land or air. Unfortunately, the border between New South Wales and Queensland remains firmly shut, meaning a joy flight passing over the famous Great Barrier Reef is the closest Sydney-siders can get to Queensland right now.

Earlier this week, Singapore Airlines announced plans for similar “flights to nowhere,” though these flights were intended to only last three hours and are focused more on the flight experience, rather than sightseeing out the windows.

EVA operated a similar flight to nowhere recently for Father’s Day.