Hot on the heels of a couple of successful flights to nowhere last year, Qantas is running some one-off mystery flights over the next few months. Mystery flights aren’t new in Australia. Older readers will recall EastWest, Ansett, and Australian Airlines all offered them once. More recently, Virgin Australia offered mystery weekends away. Now Qantas is getting onboard, offering a fresh take on an old idea.
“Our customers tell us that where they can and can’t travel within Australia has been a bit of a mystery lately,” says Qantas Group Chief Customer Officer Stephanie Tully.
“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.”
Mystery flights from Sydney, Brisbane, & Melbourne
There will be three flights using Boeing 737-800 aircraft flying from three cities. The first mystery flight will operate out of Brisbane on Saturday, March 27. Then, it’s Sydney’s turn. The mystery flight out of Sydney will run on Sunday, April 18. Finally, Melbourne sees its mystery flight operate on Saturday, May 1.
It’s not just the flights Qantas has lined up. The airline is organizing a day’s worth of stuff to do when you land (all covered in the ticket price). Being a mystery flight, Qantas isn’t saying where you’ll be heading to, but they do promise to tell you whether to bring your tiara or thongs. The airline says destinations will be around two hours flying time of the respective cities. That automatically rules out places like Darwin and the Margaret River.
Further, there are a few tantalizing clues. Ex-Sydney passengers can expect “the tropics, saltwater on your skin, and long lunching on the beach.” That sounds like an excellent way to spend a Sunday. Immediate thoughts turn to Cairns, but that’s three hours flying time north. Noosa is nice but does Noosa count as tropical? My money is on somewhere like Hamilton Island.
Brisbane passengers are primed to expect “country hospitality, gourmet food and wine, and the great outdoors.” Outback Queensland is friendly and ticks the great outdoors box, but it’s not a gourmet food and wine hotspot. What about one of Qantas’ new regional destinations in New South Wales? Can Orange Airport handle a 737-800? I think so, and the food is good there. Or maybe Mildura? Griffith?
The final mystery flight departs from Melbourne. Qantas says passengers can expect “the great outdoors (including a little walking), gourmet food and wine, and regional farmers markets.” That sounds like fun, although after a few hours eating your way through a farmer’s market, is anyone up for any walking? This is a harder one to pick. Hobart would be a likely candidate, with Salamanca running on Saturdays, but Qantas says flights will not go to “major capital cities.” Does Hobart fall into that category?
“Experiences on the ground could include anything from a winemaking course in a premier Australian wine region to a gourmet lunch with musical entertainment on the shores of one of Australia’s tropical island wonders,” says Qantas.
Qantas will try to keep the destination a secret until the very end
It all sounds like great fun. Qantas says they won’t reveal the destination until the drop begins. But most passengers will keep an eagle eye out the window or on tracking sites. Will Qantas get cunning and throw people off by deliberating flying unusual tracks, only for a last-minute sharp turn west? It’s all part of the mystery and fun.
Tickets go on sale on March 4. Fares start from AU$737 in economy class and AU$1579 in business class. The ticket prices covers everything for the day, including food and drinks. Simple Flying believes passenger numbers on the flights will be capped at 120.
Where do you think these flights might be heading? Post a comment and let us know.