Australia's first underwater accommodation opens at the Great Barrier Reef

On 1 December, Cruise Whitsundays officially opened Australia’s first underwater accommodation, “Reefsuites”. Reefsuites are the centrepiece of the newly developed Reefworld pontoon moored on Hardy Reef, 40 nautical miles from Airlie Beach.

The two premium underwater hotel suites offer panoramic floor-to-ceiling views into the Great Barrier Reef. At nights, guests have the option to turn on a light which further illuminates the marine life surrounding them.

The all-inclusive experience includes a return cruise to the Reefworld pontoon, outstanding marine activities, premium beverages, onboard chefs using local produce and access to an unforgettable stay underwater, alongside Australia’s Heritage Listed Great Barrier Reef.

The development has been part of a $10 million project for Cruise Whitsunday’s Reefworld pontoon.

Air New Zealand non-stop to New York

Air New Zealand have just announced the debut of direct flights between Auckland and New York from October, 2020. New York will be Air New Zealand’s sixth non-stop destination in the U.S.; joining Los Angeles, San Francisco, Houston, Chicago and Honolulu.

Air NZ’s newest routing will operate three times a week from Auckland to Newark Liberty International Airport. Alliance partner, United Airlines, will then operate connections to a range of U.S. destinations.

Flying time is 15 hours 40 minutes outbound, and 17 hours 40 minutes inbound, making it Air New Zealand’s longest flight sector (and the fifth-longest in the world by distance).

Virgin Australia network changes

Virgin Australia has announced several changes to its network, impacting a number of domestic and international flight routes.

Flights between Melbourne and Hong Kong will be suspended from February, 2020 (while daily services from Sydney will be retained). Other suspended services include Canberra to Perth (from December, 2019), Gold Coast to Perth (from January, 2020) and Sydney to Christchurch (from April, 2020).

In good news for Bali lovers, though, Virgin will introduce direct flights from Melbourne to Denpasar from March, 2020, and Brisbane to Haneda flights are also now on sale, with the inaugural VA flight departing on 29 March, 2020; giving Aussies even easier access to downtown Tokyo.

Melbourne to San Francisco direct with United Airlines

United Airlines first non-stop flight from Melbourne to San Francisco took off on 31 October, making it the airline’s fifth non-stop flight between Australia and the U.S. The brand-new service will fly three times a week, operated by a 787-9 Dreamliner.

The aircraft is fitted with 48 lie-flat beds in Business Class, 116 Economy seats and 88 extra-legroom seats in “Economy Plus”.

The new direct service will give Australians greater choice travelling to the US than ever before. Prior to this, Qantas was the only airline offering a direct service into San Francisco.

American Airlines announces seasonal flights to New Zealand

American Airlines have announced two seasonal, non-stop routes between the USA and New Zealand (which should keep competing routes competitive in the months ahead). The new direct services will be from Los Angeles to Christchurch and from Dallas to Auckland. Each service will operate three times a week, between October, 2020 and March, 2021.

The move will see American Airlines become the first U.S. airline to operate flights to New Zealand’s South Island. The expansion is said to be a “direct result of the recently approved joint business with Qantas” according to a statement from both airlines.

Qantas will also add a seventh weekly flight between Sydney and Dallas by mid-2020.

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