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What flying Bonza was really like, and why some hated the airline

First Bonza plane, Shazza, touches down

Source: Bonza

Since its maiden flight in January 2023, Bonza tried to establish itself as a low-cost airline that was a little different.

The new carrier sought to fill a gap in the Australian market by connecting big cities to smaller hubs, but on the cheap.

Now Bonza has entered voluntary administration. Passengers were temporarily stranded on Tuesday, their travel plans literally up in the air.

Admittedly, the reviews online were not too kind towards Bonza, especially the ones coming in on Tuesday morning as the airline announced all flights would be temporarily suspended.

The biggest gripe people seemed to have over Bonza’s history was the airline cancelling flights, while some complained of struggling to get a refund.

However, for those who have flown with Bonza, many recount having positive experiences with the airline.

What made Bonza different

In January, one year after the maiden flight, Bonza announced it had helped Australians save more than $125 million, thanks to its low-cost airfares to regional hubs.

Onboard, there was an all-Australian menu, in-flight entertainment and a USB charging port.

Keeping with the Aussie theme, the names of the planes screamed Australia: Shazza, Bazza and Sheila.

The staff wore non-binary uniforms and were encouraged to let their individual personalities shine.

The airline had a “digital focus”, meaning customers could book, check in and manage their travel through the Bonza app only (although this did eventually change).

Bonza didn’t fly out of Sydney Airport, but it did travel to 21 regional destinations across Australia, with 84 per cent of those routes only being flown by Bonza.

Bonza

Bonza embraced a more casual vibe for frontline staff.

What customers had to say about Bonza

People who had their flights cancelled were not too pleased, but other people who have flown with Bonza have given rave reviews.

Luke Crisp makes travel and aviation videos on YouTube. In one video, where he travelled from Melbourne’s Avalon Airport to the Sunshine Coast, he recounted a positive experience.

He noted it was a full-on “Australiana” experience, with cabin crew being referred to as “legends” alongside the aircraft’s ocker name.

He also liked the convenience of ordering food through the app, which freed up space in the aisles, making it easier for all to move around.

Another aviation YouTuber Josh Cahill noted that the cabin on his Bonza flight was clean, the seats were comfortable and the staff were “great”. Overall, he thought Bonza added something special to our aviation industry.

“Again travelled with Bonza – cannot fault them. The staff are all always pleasant and helpful,” one person said in an online review.

“The planes are roomy – comfortable. The food is very tasty and great prices plus onboard entertainment. I changed my return flight and needed Bonza assistance, which was absolutely forthcoming. Then asked when would suit me for them to phone, which they did. Great work Bonza, unfaultable.”

Response to airline’s end

Some were upset at the idea that Bonza might be grounded indefinitely.

Honestly this actually sucks for regional areas,” one person remarked on X.

“It’s actually sad that it’s cheaper for me to fly to NZ most of the time than Melb/Syd due to costs of Qantas/Virgin. Direct flights on Bonza were actually so good.”

Plenty of people also vented their frustrations at the fact Australia often struggles with “corporate competition”, especially in the aviation industry.

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