Australian Travel Hacks Roundup: This Month’s Tips You Don’t Want To Miss

New arrivals, final calls, and all the best offers inbetween.

Australian Travel Hacks Roundup: This Month’s Tips You Don’t Want To Miss

Image: DMARGE/Romer Macapuno

In the first of what will be a monthly update of travel news and tips, DMARGE brings you a wrap of open status match offers, flight resumptions, hotel openings, and some opportunities lost.

New Year, New Status Match Offers

Garuda Indonesia (SkyTeam) and Turkish Airlines (Star Alliance) have status match options available to Qantas Gold and Platinum frequent flyers.

It’s not open slather. The matches come with conditions, including granting status for an interim period and expecting you to do one or more flights in that time to lock in status for 12 months. However, it is a sweet deal if you plan to fly on either airline soon.

WATCH: ex-Qantas CEO Alan Joyce Roasts Karl Stefanovic

A Simple Qantas Hack

If you fly Qantas regularly, you’ll know the airline blocks-off the front seats in every cabin for its top frequent flyers. However, 80 hours before the flight, any unsold seats in the cabin class open up to everyone. Known as T-80 — around 79 hours and 55 minutes before your flight departs — go onto the Qantas website, into the manage booking section, and you can switch out of 28B into 4A at no cost. 

Image: The Australian

Getting up the front of the cabin gets you more legroom, first dibs on what passes for Qantas economy catering, and allows for quicker disembarking. A word to the wise: This trick works best on off-peak non-trunk routes. Jagging 4A is far easier on the 11:05 Maroochydore to Sydney flight than the 18:00 Adelaide to Melbourne flight. T-80 also works on international flights.

Flight Starts, Relaunches, And A Probable Pause

Perth is receiving some airline love, with several international carriers recently resuming flights and others planning to restart or increase services.

In December, Thai Airways resumed flights on the Bangkok—Perth sector, while Vietnam Airlines debuted flights to and from Ho Chi Minh. China Eastern is testing market demand with flights to and from Shanghai Pudong over the WA summer.

Bangkok is back on the menu for West Australians. Image: Hotels

After a lengthy absence, South African Airways will resume flights to Johannesburg in April. Later in the year, Emirates will return to pre-pandemic flying frequencies with double dailies out of Perth using a mix of A380s and B777-300ERs. Emirates will start using A380s on both its twice-daily flights out of Brisbane later this year.

The planned 2024 start for El Al’s Melbourne flights is up in the air because the airline has paused all flights over Saudi airspace. Using Saudi (and Omani) airspace allows El Al’s B787 Dreamliners to cover the distance between Tel Aviv and Melbourne in a single flight.

When the airline announced the flights in 2023, Saudi Arabia had recently opened its airspace to Israeli carriers, making the nonstop flights doable. However, due to the current situation in Israel, Israeli airlines are once again no longer flying over Saudi Arabia. Until this changes, the chances of the Melbourne flights starting are slight.

Hotel Openings In Melbourne

Melbourne’s hotel options continue to grow in leaps and bounds, with another Veriu hotel recently opening its doors to guests in Johnson Street, Collingwood. Tim Gurner, whose company built the property and retains ownership, says people thought he was mad to build there but said:

“This is where the culture is, and wealth follows culture; that’s been the evolution in every major city in the world.”

Tim Gurner

Hilton has added Melbourne’s 255-room Next Hotel in Collins Street to its Curio portfolio. It is Hilton’s third property in the city, alongside the Doubletree across from Flinders Street Station and the Hilton Little Queen Street.

Also expected to open in Melbourne this year is 1 Hotel as part of the redevelopment of Northbank Wharf and the Shangri-La near Carlton Gardens.

Further west, Adelaide is getting a Marriott in May, with the hotel opening as part of the GPO redevelopment. The 285-room hotel will include a club lounge, offering Bonvoy elites a place to sleep along with free drinks every evening while in town.

Next Hotel is Melbourne’s hottest new destination. Image: Next Hotel

Good Things That Have Ended

Regional Express (REX) has axed lounge access and the extra baggage allowance for passengers who upgrade from economy to business class via BidUp.

BidUp allows economy class passengers to sit up the front, usually for around A$50–100 on top of the initial fare. Until mid-December, it also allowed successful bidders to enjoy some quiet time in Rex’s lounges in Sydney, Melbourne, and Adelaide. Now, it’s back to mixing with the hoi polloi in the terminal.

Korean Air has ended its seasonal B747-8 flights to Sydney, converting back to B777-300ERs in mid-January. There are now no B747 passenger flights in and out of Australia. However, B747 fans can still pick up Korean B747 flights from Incheon to Atlanta, Honolulu, New York, and Paris.

Korean Air offers a tip-top B747 flying experience, using the relatively rare Apex Suite seat in business class and even offering first class. Get onboard before the queen of the skies goes the way of the dodo. 

Check back next month for more travel hacks & tips from Andrew Curran.