Qantas: Australia’s National Airline

Flagship carrier for Australia is Qantas, which maintains a major hub at Sydney International Airport and smaller hubs at Brisbane, Melbourne, and Perth. Qantas also runs international flights to and from Perth, Brisbane, Los Angeles, London, and Singapore.

The world’s second oldest airline in continuous operation and the oldest airline in the English-speaking world, Quantas was founded in’20. It is a member of the Oneworld alliance, one of the world’s largest airline alliance programs.

Qantas is both privately held and of the world’s very most profitable airlines. Voted third best in the world by the World Airline Awards in 2008, Qantas and its subsidiaries maintain hundreds of Boeing and Airbus planes, naming each after Australian aviators, Australian cities, Australian cities, Greek gods and goddesses, and stars.

The name Qantas, always spelled without a “u,” is an acronym for “Queensland and Northern Territory Aerial Services.”

Adventure seekers who want to Antarctica can fly Qantas charters organized by Croydon Travel. Qantas flew its first Antarctic sight-seeing trips in’77. These summer trips were suspended in’79 after the crash of Air New Zealand Flight 901 on Mt. Erebus, but restarted in’94. Antarctic flights now require specific crew training in polar operations so that pilots and crew can handle whiteouts such as those that contributed to the’79 disaster.

Qantas believes in rewarding customer loyalty, which is the basis of its frequent flyer program. Passengers accrue points based on distance flown, with bonuses that vary by travel class. Points can be earned on both Qantas flights and Oneworld alliance member flights. Qantas has faced criticism regarding availability of seats for members redeeming points, so Qantas overhauled its frequent flyer program in July 2008. The two key new features are Any Seat rewards, in which members can redeem any seat on the plane at a price. The second new feature is Points Plus Pay, where members can use a combination of cash and points to redeem an award.

The first airline to allow cell phone use during flights, Qantas also provides seat-back access to email and web browsing and wireless internet. It also offers an extensive in-flight entertainment system. Some planes use Mainscreen, where drop-down video menus offer either television programs or recent films, depending on the length of the flight. Other planes use Total Entertainment, which is an on-demand audio/video system.

Qantas recently announced its scheme to reduce its carbon footprint. It now allows passengers to fly carbon neutral, and to pay for their contribution to the carbon offset plan in either cash or frequent flier points. Qantas donates the proceeds of the program to verified offset projects with a government-certified Green Friendly certification. Olympian and swimmer Ian Thorpe and professional golfer Greg Norman are the program’s spokesmen.

Tom Martens is the content syndication coordinator for South Arica?s leading Flight comparison & Booking portal, which includes Qantas Airlines amongst others.

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