How Qantas frequent flyers to Canberra get spoiled
Politics rule 101: Make sure everyone gets wine.
I flew to Canberra on Qantas on a Saturday afternoon a couple of weeks ago. (Don't laugh, there's plenty to do there). Saturday arvo is a dead zone for flights, and January is a dead month for Canberra, with Parliament in recess and everyone on school holidays. So the service was running on a Dash 8, and it was far from full.
The Sydney to Canberra flight is only scheduled to take 55 minutes, and you can often assume that 15 of those minutes will be spent on the runway in Sydney. Yet despite this massively short flight on a minimally glamorous plane filled with non-entities like me, everyone was served a snack. Not just a single biscuit, but a packet of crisps AND a stick of beef jerky AND some crackers AND some cheese.
Everyone was also offered a wine or beer if they wanted one. Indeed, I could have had a second if I so chose.
This is not normal airline behaviour. Qantas' usual policy is to only offer free drinks in economy on flights after 5pm on weekdays. The rest of the time, you have to pay. And on most flights, you'll get just a single snack, not a range of choices.
But Canberra has always been different. As long as I've been flying there (and that's a solid couple of decades now), the booze has been free as soon as the lunchtime bell rings. Sometimes it's a race to get it served before the plane starts descending. That also applies on Virgin, which has been trying to chip away at Qantas' enviable (and profitable) public service market share.
I'm certainly not complaining: anyone who wants to provide me with a free wine is welcome. But it's also a reminder that the politicians and business people who flock to Canberra have some very specific demands, starting with a drink whenever they fly.
Angus Kidman's Findings column looks at new developments and research that help you save money, make wise decisions and enjoy your life more. It appears regularly on finder.com.au.
Pictures: Angus Kidman