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All aboard the Great Southern Land flight on a big Qantas jet going nowhere

Vanessa Brown, October 4, 2020 6:45PM Escape

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The seven-hour flight begins and ends in Sydney and includes flying over Sydney Harbour, the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Opera House, some of the most recognisable Australian landmarks in the world. Picture: Getty Images media_cameraThe seven-hour flight begins and ends in Sydney and includes flying over Sydney Harbour, the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Opera House, some of the most recognisable Australian landmarks in the world. Picture: Getty Images


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On Saturday October 10, 150 people will board a big Qantas jet for a very long flight to a lot of places but, in the end, to nowhere.

The Qantas Great Southern Land scenic flight is scheduled to leave Sydney at 10.30am before doing a loop at a low altitude* over some of the countries favourite landmarks* and holiday destinations. It will then return to Sydney around seven hours later.

The Boeing 787 Dreamliner plane will cross several borders, but because it won’t land until it gets back to Sydney, border restrictions and quarantine* requirements for other states and territories* in place at the time won’t apply, apart from in Sydney.

01/08/2007. Aerial view of Uluru. (Voyages Tours Handout Picture / free to use). Picture: Supplied / Sails Resort media_cameraAerial view of Uluru, NT. Picture: supplied

Tickets went on sale at midday on September 17. By 12.10pm they’d sold out.

150 seats were listed for $787 for an economy seat, $1787 for premium* and a few business class seats for $3787.

“We knew this flight would be popular, but we didn’t expect it to sell out in 10 minutes,” a Qantas spokesperson said.

“It’s probably the fastest selling flight in Qantas history.”

The Great Southern Land flight will be aboard the airline’s famous ‘Emily’ aeroplane, normally reserved for international flights.

Qantas Dreamliner in Alice Springs media_cameraThe Qantas Boeing 787 Dreamliner called Emily, featuring artwork by Aboriginal artist Emily Kame Kngwarreye, seen here on arrival in Australia when it landed at Alice Springs, NT, on March 2, 2018. Photo: Emma Murray

The journey will include a low-level fly-by of some of Australia’s most famous landmarks including Uluru, Kata Tjuta, the Whitsundays and Great Barrier Reef, Gold Coast, Byron Bay and Sydney Harbour.

The day begins with breakfast at the airline’s airport business lounge, then a charity auction of Qantas memorabilia*. On-board, there will be entertainment and food from a menu designed by chef Neil Perry, plus Qantas pyjamas, other goodies and a certificate to take home.

The flight is a way to give people missing flying and holidays a memorable* experience. It’s also a way of creating employment for some Qantas staff and businesses that supply the airline.

Kata Tjuta at sunrise media_cameraKata Tjuta in the Northern Territory.

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, more than 14,000 passenger aeroplanes around the world were grounded by April, which is about two-thirds of the global fleet. Around 7.5 million flights were cancelled in the first half of the year, according to the International Air Transport Association.

Surfers Paradise Aerial media_cameraSurfers Paradise, Qld. You can’t sit on the beach on this trip but the plane will fly over it.

Although only one Great Southern Land scenic flight was initially scheduled, Qantas may fly more, given how fast it sold out.

Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce said he hopes the flights will “provide inspiration” for future trips when domestic borders – followed by international restrictions – begin to ease.

“Just six months ago, we would have never imagined not being able to jump on a plane and visit family interstate or take a holiday internationally,” he said.

“While we may not be able to take you overseas right now, we can certainly provide inspiration for future trips to some of Australia’s most beautiful destinations. We could be on the cusp* of a domestic tourism boom given international borders are likely to be restricted for some time.

“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.”

media_cameraHeart Reef, Great Barrier Reef, Qld. Picture: Tourism Whitsundays


  • altitude: height up in the sky
  • landmarks: recognisable features of a landscape
  • quarantine: period of isolation to stop possible spread of disease
  • territories: Australian Capital Territory and Northern Territory
  • premium: a bit more special and expensive than economy
  • memorabilia: souvenirs
  • memorable: something to remember
  • cusp: edge, of something about to happen


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  1. How much is the cheapest ticket?
  2. Which states and territories does the flight cover?
  3. What job does Neil Perry do?
  4. How do we know the idea is popular?
  5. Who is Alan Joyce?


1. Design your own flight
Imagine that Qantas has asked you to choose five other places in Australia to fly by. Write a paragraph for each place that explains why you think it should be part of the Great Southern Land scenic flight.

Time: allow 25 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: English, Geography

2. Extension
If all of the tickets for the flight sold out in 10 minutes, how many tickets were sold a minute? How many were sold a second?

Time: allow at least 10 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: English, Mathematics

Proper Noun Police
A proper noun is a noun that names a particular person, place or thing. It always has a capital letter.

How many proper nouns can you find within this article? Find them all and sort them into the category of name, place, time (date/month).

Can you find any proper nouns included in your writing?

What are they?

Can you sort them into their categories?

HAVE YOUR SAY: What would you like to fly over?
No one-word answers. Use full sentences to explain your thinking. No comments will be published until approved by editors.

Extra Reading in geography