Qantas caused ripples in Aussie frequent flyer circles yesterday with news of a one-off Qantas A380 flight to Orlando, Florida, in January 2020.
Routesonline reported yesterday that the outbound flight to Orlando would depart Sydney (SYD) on January 19th, 2020. The return flight will depart Orlando (MCO) on January 24th, 2020. In both directions, the flights are transiting in Los Angeles for a refuel and crew change.
A search of the Qantas website reveals that these flights are not timetabled into the system. However, Qantas has confirmed to Simple Flying that it is a charter flight but state “that’s all we can say.”
Qantas doesn’t normally fly into Florida. But it is a fairly popular destination for Australians heading to Disney World, Carribean cruises, or transiting down into Central and South America. Presently Qantas has a daily service into Dallas (DFW) and multiple daily services into Los Angeles (LAX). Passengers transfer onto a US domestic carrier for the final leg into Florida.
With any luck, the passengers will find themselves on one of the freshly refurbished Qantas A380s. In frequent flyer forums late yesterday, there were a couple of speculative reasons for the flight coming up.
Another points plane?
Firstly, could Qantas be putting on another points plane? This would follow hot on the heels of a points plane up to Narita in October 2019. The Orlando flights are running over the January school holiday period in Australia and would prove popular with points rich Australian parents keen to take their brood to Disney World and Universal Studios for a few days. But imagine, dear reader, a 20-hour flight in an A380 economy cabin full of kids hyped up over a trip to Disney World… not necessarily a pleasant experience.
Trialing a tag flight?
Secondly, Qantas could be experimenting with a tag flight in the USA. Given it’s the holidays, there is possibly enough demand out of Australia to run the flight on a seasonal basis.
Consider that QF11, a daily Qantas A380 service out of Sydney, arrives in Los Angeles at 06.00 every morning. Normally that aircraft sits on the ground at LAX until it returns to Sydney as QF12 with a 22.30 departure time that evening. The aircraft does need to be cleaned, refueled and serviced but it nonetheless is idle for around 14 hours.
There is enough time to send the aircraft east, turn it around, and fly it back to LAX for that evening’s departure. Qantas already does this with its LAX-JFK tag flight. Confusingly, this tag flight is marketed as QF11 although it’s operated by a separate aircraft, a Boeing 787 Dreamliner, which is a continuation of QF15 out of Brisbane (BNE).
Experimenting with a tag flight could make sense. Having an aircraft sit idle all day isn’t efficient. But Orlando is an interesting choice for a tag flight. Atlanta or Miami might make more sense, given that they are significant transit hubs for the flying kangaroo’s US codeshare partner and OneWorld buddy, American Airlines.
Or just a charter
Confirmation that it’s a charter would settle speculation but a points plane would have been much more fun. Nonetheless, it will be a rare opportunity for Orlando’s local avgeeks to spot a Qantas A380 in their skies.