Qantas sightseeing flight: 'Great Southern Land' scenic trip over Australia

A sightseeing flight to nowhere announced by Qantas on Thursday morning sold out 10 minutes after going on sale, according to the airline.

The 'Great Southern Land' flight on Saturday, October 10 will depart from Sydney and head up the New South Wales coast, cross the Queensland border to the Gold Coast, Brisbane and the Sunshine Coast before continuing north to the Whitsundays and Great Barrier Reef and features low-level fly-bys of landmarks. 

"It's probably the fastest selling flight in Qantas history," an airline spokeswoman said. "People clearly miss travel and the experience of flying. If the demand is there, we'll definitely look at doing more of these scenic flights while we all wait for borders to open."

It will then head inland to the red centre taking in Uluru and Kata Tjuta before returning for a low-level circuit of Sydney Harbour and landing back at Sydney.

The seven-hour flight accommodating 150 passengers is on a Boeing 787 Dreamliner, an aircraft usually reserved for international flying. The Dreamliner has the largest windows of any commercial aircraft. Qantas' Dreamliners are currently grounded due to the downturn in international travel. 

The plane use will be 'Emily', a 787 featuring Indigenous livery based on the 1991 painting of artist Emily Kame Kngwarreye, Yam Dreaming.

The seats on the flight cost $787 (get it?) for economy class, $1787 for premium economy or $3787 for business class. Qantas says a small number of business class seats will be available through the airline's frequent flyer scheme, for 250,000 points each.

Qantas CEO Alan Joyce said many frequent flyers missed the experience of flying as much as the destinations themselves.

"Australia is a great land and home to unique wonders like Uluru and the Whitsundays, so we know that it will be truly special to experience this beautiful country from the comfort and freedom of the sky," Mr Joyce said.

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"This flight, and possibly more like it, means work for our people, who are more enthusiastic than anyone to see aircraft back in the sky."

The flight will feature a Neil Perry menu, a gift bag and a pre-flight auction of memorabilia from Qantas' recently retired fleet of 747s. Items from the jumbo jets include inflight phone handsets, a galley control unit and one of the exit signs. 

The scenic flight is the latest move by grounded carriers to generate revenue following COVID-19 pandemic including Singapore Airlines reportedly also planning "flights to nowhere" that will take off and land at the same airport.

Sightseeing flights have long been a popular activity to some destinations however with day trips over Antarctica operating every summer for 26 years.

Qantas "Fly Well" COVID-19 protection procedures will apply before departure and inflight.

The airline is currently looking for ways to make savings and raise revenue after reporting a $1.9 billion loss last financial year. Qantas is undergoing a $15 billion, three-year cost cutting drive to help it get through the pandemic crisis. It does not expect to resume regular international flights again until mid-2021.

with Reuters

See also: Grounded Qantas Dreamliners to take off for Antarctica

See also: What happens when a plane gets scrapped

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