I was able to use up some Qantas Frequent Flyer points for this trip – my shopping at Woolworths has come in handy – normally an airfare is around AU$820+ return, for this trip I used 24,000 Qantas Frequent Flyer points and $250 in fees and taxes.
The flights leave from the international terminal due to biosecurity travelling to an offshore island. International travel from Australia is still ‘outlawed’ and the international terminal is baron.
For the past few years the service between Australia, New Zealand and Norfolk Island has been operated by Air New Zealand. As an Australian Territory, there is an Australian government subsidy to operate the flights from Aus. The Air New Zealand flights from Auckland were operating at a loss, so they were canned. Then came International border closures due to COVID-19 and as the Air NZ crew came fromNew Zealand and would need to quarantine for 14 days prior to the flight from Australia to Norfolk Island, it became a logistical nightmare, hence why Air New Zealand left the market and Qantas stepped in. From the end of May ’21, Air Chathams, a privately owned New Zealand regional turbo-prop airline, will be servicing the Auckland to Norfolk Island route.
As mentioned, it’s an Australian Territory, and Norfolk Island comes under ACT (Australian Capital Territory) jurisdiction. While that means we are travelling domestically, we are leaving from the international terminal. The setting for the scene is international travel, the service is distinctly domestic (regional even). Meanwhile, the international terminal is desolate – double sad face.
Todays flight is operated by an almost 8 year old 737-800 named Bungendore. Registered VH-XZG, she was delivered new to QANTAS in 2013. She has 12 business class seats and 162 economy class seats and there are only a spattering of seats free on this flight.
No Window? How could I not know this! O.K, I’ve been out of the game of being a travel agent for the past 16 months – I reckon millions of travel agents worldwide have also been. I’ve been studying at university – but where was my studious head when I booked row 9 seats A-B for for this flight? (should I go for a triple sad face?). After spying the row ahead of me, I politely asked one of the cabin crew if I may move and after she checked with the Customer Service Manager (CSM) I was allowed to. The cloth seats are comfortable and as per a usual configuration come in a 3-3 configuration with a seat pitch of 31″.
While waiting to board, we were advised to download the app onto our tablets or phones to watch the inflight entertainment. However, there were seat back entertainment on this aircraft. Of course though the row I moved to there was no sound working.
The WiFi wouldn’t work, no matter what I tried. I didn’t bother enquiring as I had my iPad and was engrossed in a film I had already downloaded at home.
I was slightly disappointed with the meal service on this ‘breakfast’, 2.5 hour flight. It was Anzac day, so I guess the Anzac biscuit was appropriate but I would have preferred something more substantial, especially since there was not much open at the international airport. The strange thing is I could’ve ordered a special meal, for dietary or religious reasons, online prior to the flight. I do understand the many COVID-19 related reasons why it was just a biscuit though. A small bottle of water and a choice of soft drink, juice tea or coffee was also available with the inflight service.
I was a little awed at seeing the island for the first time as the plane descended into Norfolk Island airport. The view was quite stunning and the Norfolk Pines were quite magnificent with their towering beauty.
Overall it was a comfortable flight, and being full of holiday makers, most people were in a jolly mood. The main points that were good and bad were:
✖️ The poor ‘breakfast’ meal and the entertainment system and wifi not working.
✔️ The cabin crew were friendly, attentive yet COVID-19 cautious.
I’ve always been a fan of Qantas, it is, as always especially during these COVID-19 times, an airline that is safe, reliable and comfortable – just don’t book row 9 if you want a view!
If you’re not under lockdown somewhere, or when it is lifted, go to Norfolk, go anywhere domestically! The travel and tourism industry has suffered dreadfully during these times from the smallest family run operation to the major airlines.
Matty made his own way (using points) to Norfolk Island and stayed at his own expense.