Qantas’ Mysterious A380 Charter To Orlando

Filed Under: Qantas

Update: We now know what this Qantas A380 charter is for.

Well this sure piques my curiosity. As reported by @airlineroute, Qantas has filed a one-time A380 charter service to Orlando in January 2020.

Qantas will operate the following flights from Sydney to Orlando on January 19, 2020:

QF17 Sydney to Los Angeles departing 10:25AM arriving 5:15AM
QF17 Los Angeles to Orlando departing 7:30AM arriving 2:55PM

In the other direction, Qantas will operate the following flights on January 24, 2020:

QF18 Orlando to Los Angeles departing 6:00PM arriving 8:20PM
QF18 Los Angeles to Sydney departing 10:35PM arriving 8:35AM (+2 days)

These flights aren’t open to the general public, as they seem to be some sort of charter. We have no clue what this is for, though:

  • Both the flights between Sydney and Los Angeles as well as flights between Los Angeles and Orlando are charters, so it’s not just that they’re adding on a Los Angeles to Orlando segment for a scheduled flight
  • Qantas has filed for an additional flight from Los Angeles to Sydney on January 19, and an additional flight from Sydney to Los Angeles on January 24:
    • Those flights are open to the general public; so the plane won’t stay in Orlando for five days
    • The only flights that would be empty will be repositioning flights from Orlando to Los Angeles on January 19, and a repositioning from Los Angeles to Orlando on January 24

I’ve reached out to Qantas to ask if they have any details they can share regarding these flights, though they haven’t yet responded. Meanwhile Orlando Airport simply responded with the below emoji when asked about this.

My first thought was that this could be a Flight Centre Global Gathering event. Flight Centre is the world’s largest travel agency and they’re based in Australia, and they have a “Global Gathering” event every year. Last year it was in Berlin, and they even chartered an Etihad A380 to take them there.

However, their annual event is usually in July, so the timing doesn’t work out for that. But maybe they’re doing something else, because that seems like the most logical company that would be chartering a Qantas A380?

Or maybe we’ll see Qantas offer some sort of Points Plane flight again? They recently offered their first ever A380 Points Plane, where all seats onboard were bookable using points at the “classic” reward prices.

Looking at the convention schedule in Orlando for January 2020, I don’t see anything obvious going on around those dates that would otherwise dictate an A380 charter from Australia.

Anyone have a theory as to why Qantas is flying an A380 to Orlando?

  1. Very much off-topic, but Moscow Sheremetyevo airport and Aeroflot have been having an incredible luggage collapse for the last week or so, and it does not seem to get better. The authorities have confirmed that there is at least a tonne (!) of unsorted luggage that is just lying around. People lose their luggage in transit, on arrival, everywhere. Keep your bags with you.

  2. Once the aircraft returns to LAX empty, what then? Is there an additional bookable commercial flight from LAX to Australia that brings the equipment back to Australia during that week? And one to get it back to LAX from Australia?

  3. Flight Centre Global Gathering is in Las Vegas this year, in July as usual. It might be an incentive trip or something but it’s strange timing for sure.

  4. @Lucky, can I just say thanks for being genuine with the headline and reporting? That’s nothing new for you, but it is drawn into sharp relief by a headline on reading “Qantas Will Fly Its A380 to Orlando’s Disney World in January 2020” – although, when one reads the article they’ll find that there is zero evidence to support that the flight is going to Disney World and that TPG has done even less to investigate the purpose of the flight than you have – basically, they’ve just had someone go to the airline’s website to try to book the flight.

    I guess that reminds me that I don’t get my travel news from ThePointsGuy for the same reason that I don’t drink my milkshakes from the toilet.

  5. I’m marking my calendar for January 19th. Hopefully I’ll be in town that week and will able to catch it. Not often we get an a380 in Orlando.

  6. My money is on some kind of corporate incentive trip. When we hit $250 million in sales I’m taking you all to Disney World…or some such.

  7. I’m thinking the Disney connection may be the most solid:

    Sydney is the nearest airport that can handle that size a jet. I’ve never looked, but common sense says one A380 is way cheaper to charter than a bunch of smaller (-ish) jets. That said, ~868 people is a lot… does it take that many to kick off a new theme park if that is the case?

  8. John.
    Count me in.
    Can I take Dan with me?
    Seems a funny guy too.
    Taking off as we speak AUH to SIN

  9. John.
    Count me in.
    Can I take Bill with me?
    Seems a funny guy too.
    Taking off as we speak AUH to SIN

  10. @Vanya Hmm, I’m flying to SVO in 3 weeks, with checked luggage. I hope it’s fixed by then. What’s the cause of the problem?

  11. @Jack TPG has been click-bait trash like that for a while now. Even worse on social media where they recycle posts and use even more click-baity headlines like “The Cruise Industry is Dead” in response to Cuba’s ports being closed.

  12. Every January the Australian government does a series of large “G’Day USA” outreach events…it usually covers a number of cities…perhaps they are doing a demonstration sporting event or something similar.

  13. We have three charters booked for our Flight Centre Vegas trip in July from Australia. QF, VA and NZ. All from BNE/SYD/MEL. VS is bringing the UK and Europe team members over. The Orlando one isn’t Flight Centre as far as I’ve heard!

  14. Should be an exciting day at MCO. Wonder how fast an empty A380 climbs heading back to LAX?
    I remember many years back when BA and AF each flew a Concorde to MCO and set up a simultaneous landing on parallel runways. Not a Mickey Mouse feat!

  15. Maybe QF is testing out a new route with flight to MCO via LAX? Say fly once a week? All the result of the code shares with AA?

  16. @Jack @305

    We all know TPG is the tabloids of miles points and travel.
    That’s why readers here are a bit upset that OMAAT is having clickbait post or gossip news from time to time. It’s like Kardashians getting WSJ headlines.

    At least OMAAT has decent info and interesting reviews from time to time, enough for me to use referral links here to support this site. TPG never got referrals from me.

    But hey a little TPG from time to time is entertaining. Always fun to see a near 7 ft guy trying to sit in coach. Hell, I might even use his links next time if he flies middle seat on a 5hr Spirit flight.

  17. Auspointer says:
    June 10, 2019 at 6:07 pm
    Probably the annual happy clapper (excl. brethren) charter…

    I’m with Auspointer. Wouldn’t be the first time the brethren’s have chartered a Qantas A380

  18. You can sometimes find a Qantas plane just an hour north of Orlando in Ocala! Guess who is flying it? I’ll give you a hint: a celebrity is flying it.

  19. That happy crappy event seems likely. There are enough mega churches in Oz to fill a 380. Alternatively, maybe something at Disney World for kids. I vaguely recall Air NZ used to do something at Disneyland.

  20. Wonder if it is Disney and Star Wars related in some form – SW has already opened in LAX and the Orlando one is due to open in August.

  21. Who is to say it is not a Los Angeles based company who is chartering the plane to MCO.

  22. I just saw an ad on TV from Woolworths Supermarkets in Australia advertising that they are giving away for 116 groups of 4 people a holiday to Disney World on a chartered Qantas flight. It’s a promotion to do with the Lion King, This would be the charter.

  23. Try for a Woolworths competition with over 100 prizes of four people each flying to mco & wdw. Nothing I can see on when it will happen online but the time in mco lines up perfectly. This is to do with the release of the new lion king movie.

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