Now boarding for Parts Unknown

Burt's Eye View

One year later, we are so eager to go somewhere that we’ll pay good money to go anywhere that isn’t locked up at home.

Qantas airlines in Australia is banking on it.

Qantas is now offering mystery flights.

It’s simple. You plunk down a minimum $737 for economy class or $1,579 for business class, get on the plane, and you’ll know where you’re going when you get there. It’s a surprise.

My parents pulled similar stunts for pediatrician visits:

“Hey, let’s go for a ride. This will be fun!”

“Oh, boy, oh boy! Where are we going, Dad?”

“It’s a surprise.”

“Noooooooo! I don’t want to get a shot!”

I had learned long ago that when a grownup uttered the phrase, “It’s a surprise,” bad things were about to happen.

For the last 12 months, America — and much of the world’s population — have lived either in lockdown or in highly restricted conditions in which only cardboard cutouts could attend baseball games and no one could enter a bank unless he or she looked like a robber.

Australia is one of the countries that closed its international borders. For Aussies suffering from an acute attack of stifled wanderlust, Qantas introduced mystery flights that leave from Sydney, Brisbane or Melbourne for arrival at an in-country destination within about two hours.

Remember those mysterious professional wrestlers who hailed from “Parts Unknown”? Well, now Australians can find out where they are because that’s where their flights are scheduled to land.

How does one pack for Parts Unknown? Is it snowing there? Is it a land of thunderstorms? Blazing sun? We can’t tell you. It’s a surprise.

Qantas bills these daylong mystery trips — or sometimes three-day super mystery trips — as destination flights that include meals and adventures like winemaking and concerts on a tropical island.

Yeah, last time I was hauled off on a mystery adventure, it was punctuated with and I was punctured by a measles shot. Surprise!

But I understand the allure. We’ve been cooped up. We want to move about the cabin. And we’re ready to light out pretty much anywhere that isn’t here where we’ve been forced to hole up.

Well, send me $737 ($1,579 business class) because I’m about to share a plan for your very own mystery tour.

Terry and I love to dive into the car, find an odd side road, then at every intersection, take turns hollering, “Left!,” “Right!” or even “Second star to the right and straight on till morning.” Random turns at every corner. No navigational tools are allowed — not until it’s time to go home and you realize that you are so delightfully lost that you’re not even sure that you’re still in your home state.

We have made some remarkable discoveries on such trips — alpaca farms, bison farms, camps with nature trails, waterfalls and even a band concert in a village square, though I’m not sure where.

Be warned, mystery trips like these are fraught with possible peril. There’s one horrible risk that for me is the adult equivalent of getting tricked into the doctor’s office:

“Stop the car, Sweetheart! Look! We stumbled upon a yard sale!”


• Take a mystery adventure with Cole at burtseyeview@tribtoday.com or at www.burtonwcole.com.


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