Traveltalk’s JON UNDERWOOD takes his first flight with Australia’s new low-cost carrier and asks whether they have a future in the skies.

I’VE BEEN offered many things onboard an aircraft. Pyjamas, slippers and all manner of bathroom amenities.

But I’ve never been given the option of budgie smugglers…

Welcome to the wacky world of Bonza, Australia’s latest low-cost carrier. My wife and I were invited aboard the airline’s debut flight from Newcastle to the Whitsunday’s, one of 27 routes to 17 destinations the carrier is planning.

Check-in was a breeze, thanks largely to the FlyBonza app, through which bookings, boarding passes, the onboard menu and entertainment are all accessible.

Being a debut route there were several formalities to get through before take-off. Once the celebratory cake was cut, we were invited to board ‘Shazza’ – one of Bonza’s quirkily-named aircraft.

The first thing you’ll notice is the crew, who are dressed more like fitness instructors than traditional cabin staff. Trendy white T-shirts and natty neckerchiefs paired with casual black trousers and white sneakers – uber cool.

Virginia – one of Bonza’s onboard ‘Legends’ – used to work for a major Aussie airline for more than 20 years and told me that she loves the gender-neutral comfort and freedom the uniform affords. No stockings and high heels here. Even the pilot introduced himself as “Captain Nick”.

The second thing you’ll notice is that the plane is very…purple! Purple head rests, purple safety instruction card, purple advertising stickers. Barney the dinosaur would love this airline.

Colour scheme notwithstanding, Shazza had that lovely new plane smell you’d expect from a Max 737-8 with so few kilometres on the clock.

Power points and USB charging ports were well placed and my laptop actually fitted on the drop-down table without slicing my abdomen in half. Overhead bins were extremely spacious.


We were lucky to have a spare aisle seat next to us so I hopped out of 5E as soon as the main door was closed. Bonza has four categories among its 186 seats: Stretch Plus, Stretch, Prime and Pick.

Our seats were in Prime, which offered the standard 73cm pitch. My seat was comfortable but I did think the arm rests were a tad on the skinny side. I also had a slight design issue with the seat pocket, which didn’t have sides or a firm base, meaning items could slip through.

Once in the air it was time to try and order food and drink via the app. Again, this was a quick and easy process, made even more enjoyable knowing that all products aboard Bonza are Australian made.

Soon I was supping a Ballistic Reef Lager ($9) while my wife enjoyed a Sirromet Pinot Grigio ($10). Cheese and sourdough crackers completed our Shazza snack.

A little over two hours later we were landing at Proserpine and my Bonza experience came to an end with a welcoming glass of prosecco – purple, of course.

My main takeaway from the flight was that low cost doesn’t have to mean low quality or low expectations. I would gladly fly Shazza or Bazza or whatever else they come up with in the future.

Bonza’s catchphrase is that they are ‘Here for Allstralia’. For the sake of competition and affordability for travellers, it must be hoped that all Australia repays the favour.


Graham Turner and Keith Tan

TWO MAJOR organisations have come together to promote tourism to one of Asia’s most popular destinations.

Singapore Tourism Board (STB) and Flight Centre Travel Group Limited (FCTG) have inked a three-year, multi-million-dollar Memorandum of Understanding (MOU).

The initiative aims to drive increased visitation to Singapore via FCTG’s global network.

This is FCTG’s first global agreement with a destination partner since the pandemic, which will see both partners teaming up to jointly promote Singapore in Australia, New Zealand, United Kingdom, USA, Canada and South Africa.

In addition to mono-destination holiday packages, dedicated “stayover” packages will be developed to entice visitors to stay and experience Singapore before continuing their long-haul journey.

“This MOU underscores just how much FCTG values Singapore as a major player in the Asia-Pacific travel market,” said Graham Turner, FCTG’s Chief Executive Officer.

“Now that more of the region’s carriers have resumed routes through Singapore, FCTG is excited to work with STB to cast the limelight back on the city and remind the world just what a spectacular travel destination Singapore is.”


HERE’S THE story Australians have ‘bean’ waiting for – we have the best coffee shops in the world.

Coffee producer Tambia studied Instagram data in more than 360 cities worldwide to discover who serves the best cup of joe.

According to the survey, Melbourne has the most beautiful coffee shops in the world, followed by Sydney and Perth.

The results also revealed that our cities make up 50 per cent of the top 10 best coffee joints in the world, with Brisbane (4th) and Adelaide (10th) also in the top echelon.

“Instagram is a fantastic place to find the trendiest spots to visit, especially if you are travelling to a new city,” said Sarah Del Corral, Partner at Tambia.

“A cup of joe is such a natural part of our day to day, even when abroad, so it’s wonderful to see people share the places they love the most on social media.

“We hope our research serves as inspiration to guide you on your next travel and take in the colours, scents and wonderful sights that cities around the world have to offer, while you enjoy a locally authentic brew.”

Melbourne took the coffee crown, garnering nearly 900,000 Instagram posts from bean connoisseurs. Sydney brewed up more than 350,000 mentions with Perth percolating more than 280,000 posts.

Other cities to make the top 10 included London, Toronto, Seattle, New York City and Dubai.


RAIL EUROPE is celebrating the launch of seat reservations for Eurail Passes with a series of monthly incentives for travel agents.

Consultants can now make seat reservations on Trenitalia trains via the Easy Rail Access booking tool, therefore securing their clients the best available seats for their Italian travels.

“We are the only distributor that offers such a functionality with our advanced Easy Rail Access booking tool,” said Richard Leonard, GM of APAC.

Agents can also look forward to receiving double monthly rewards from April to June.

To qualify, agencies must first ticket five bookings before enjoying $10 per booking thereafter, capped at $250 per agency per month.

On top of that, during April qualified agencies who book Eurail and Swiss Travel Passes will see them receive a further $5 on top of the $10.

The following months will see bookings on SNCF (French), RENFE (Spanish) and Swiss panoramic seat reservations complimenting rail passes being rewarded in the same manner.

“These rewards and incentives are part of Rail Europe’s way of ensuring advisors have something useful to work towards and look forward to each month,” added Leonard.

“It’s also a fun way for us to show our commitment in making bookings easy while looking after the interests of our valued advisors.”