Qantas mystery flights revived as international borders remain closed

 Mystery flights to regional Australia have been launched by Qantas in response to continued international border closures.

The flights, which will depart from Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne, will fly to a destination within approximately two hours and include experiences on the ground such as winemaking in a premier wine region or a gourmet lunch with music on the shores of a tropical island.

Travelling on a Boeing 737, the flights will include some low-level scenic fly-bys of key landmarks en route.

Customers will be provided with clues as to whether to pack a snorkel or sneakers in carry-on baggage, but they won't know exactly where they're going until they touch down.

Qantas Group Chief Customer Officer Stephanie Tully says the mystery flights are about giving Australians memorable travel experiences and promoting domestic tourism.

"The vaccine rollout is bringing a lot more certainty and domestic border restrictions should soon be a thing of the past. In the meantime, these flights turn that mystery into a positive by creating a unique experience for the many people keen to start travelling again," Ms Tully said.

"As well as helping bring more of our people back to work, these mystery flights are another way to support tourism operators in regional areas especially, who have been hit particularly hard by several waves of travel restrictions."

These latest novelty flights follow Qantas' successful scenic "Flight to Nowhere", when domestic border closures were at their peak, and "Flight to Somewhere", which took passengers to Uluru for the weekend in December.

On Tuesday night, the federal government announced an extension of Australia's international border closures until June.

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Tourism Australia managing director Phillipa Harrison says the new packages will provide Australians with a different way to travel "and the opportunity to experience some of our country's incredible sights and experiences in a different light."

The national carrier last operated mystery flights in the 1990s when travellers would arrive at the airport and be allocated a same-day return flight to any of the airline's destinations.

The now defunct Ansett Australia also operated mystery flights and Virgin Australia has previously operated mystery short-stay weekends away.

Fares including meals and alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks plus activities on the ground, are $737 for economy (earning 2400 Qantas Points and 40 Status Credits) and $1579 for business (5000 Qantas Points and 80 Status Credits).

Seats for the mystery flight experiences go on sale at midday Thursday March 4 for travel on March 27 from Brisbane, April 18 from Sydney and May 1 from Melbourne. Qantas offers some clues as to each flight's destination, with the Brisbane flight suited for those who love "gourmet food and wine" and "the great outdoors". The Sydney flight is for lovers of "the tropics" and "long lunching on the beach", while the Melbourne flight is also offering "gourmet food and wine", "the great outdoors" and "regional farmers markets". See qantas.com 

UPDATE: Qantas reports that the mystery flights sold out within 15 minutes of going on sale. A standby waiting list has been created.

See also: Airline review: Verdict on the new player on Melbourne-Sydney route

See also: Bargain fares on holiday routes as airlines ramp up flights

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