An early taste of the bubble

An early taste of the bubble

By Stu Freeman

Yesterday I was on Flight QF166 to the Gold Coast – Qantas’ inaugural between Auckland and Coolangatta and an early opportunity for me to experience travel in the trans Tasman bubble.

Auckland Airport yesterday (apart from a couple of slightly busier bursts during the day) was quiet to the point of being eerie – a boon for clients travelling just outside peak who want to get through the airport quickly with no hassle.

There is only one additional piece of paperwork – a show of proof that the traveller has filled out the Australia Travel Declaration (this needs to be done 72 hours prior to travel, but because of my last minute plans I did it without problem about 60 hours before).

Clients who like a bit more normality (though we all like a bit of room inflight) can be assured that numbers will steadily build up if no early problems (read lock downs) occur.

A Qantas representative rang me last week to tell me not to be alarmed at the lack of people on the GC flight – the interest and bookings in the future are looking good, but the service was only announced about 10 days before take off.

‘Usually we have a few months to market an inaugural,’ she pointed out.

The main physical difference is mask wearing, but virtually everyone at the airport was sitting in half empty cafes and restaurants eating and drinking without (obviously) face masks. The same was the case in the Air New Zealand lounge, which at present is catering for its own eligible customers and business class Qantas guests. When not eating and drinking mask wearing compliance was high.

The inflight welcome and service on QF 166 had a touch of excitement (and perhaps relief). ‘Today marks the start of the trans Tasman bubble and whether you are travelling to see family and friends, having a long awaited holiday or you’re
on business, it’s really great to have you on board.’

The prediction that Kiwis visiting friends and relatives would be the first to fly looked to be borne out by this flight, with crew telling me that discussions with passengers certainly indicated this. But there were also families who threw early bubble caution to the wind and headed off for a Queensland holiday at the first opportunity.

Gold Coast welcomes new service

The new Qantas service will deliver 63,000 seats more seats into the Gold Coast and have an annual economic impact of A$50m according to Destination Gold Coast.

‘Restoring aviation capacity into the region is key priority,’ says CEO Patricia O’Callaghan. ‘We know our 4600  tourism operators are extremely keen to see this valuable international market restart. This service and flights by other carriers will see capacity rebuild quickly between the  Gold Coast and Auckland followed by more flights with other New Zealand destinations between now and June.

‘An annual Gold Coast holiday is a tradition for thousands of Kiwi families who will now be able to flee winter and soak up our sunshine,’ she says. ‘There is always something new to discover and even throughout a challenging period like 2020, we’ve seen investment from our private sector progress to include new hotels, restaurants and new tours and attractions.’

For more on what's new on the Gold Coast click here.

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