Sydney Swans fans lucky enough to secure tickets to this weekend’s Australian Football League grand final header against the Geelong Cats are braving return flights in excess of A$1,000 (US$672) to make it to the Melbourne Cricket Ground in time for the bounce.
Airline suppliers are capitalizing on increased demand, with prices surging up to A$1,781 for direct flights between the two capital cities.
Bloods supporter Rens Willemsen “rolled the dice” and booked flights and a hotel six weeks ago on the off chance Sydney made it into the final dance. His mates were not so lucky.
“One friend bought tickets last week for A$900 return,” he said. “Another friend had to wait on their nursing roster, and just bought tickets at A$1,200 return.”
Thousands of Collingwood diehards made the pilgrimage last the weekend on overnight trains, buses and carpools to the Sydney Cricket Ground for the preliminary final, as airline fares ballooned beyond A$1,000 return for the short flight.
It was a long journey home to Melbourne for the Magpies after a harrowing one-point loss. Now, supporters of the Bloods are struggling with the same transport woes.
Yesterday, the cheapest direct flights from Sydney to Melbourne were A$826 with Virgin Australia, departing on Friday morning and returning on Sunday evening.
Overnight return flights started at A$988 to make it to the Melbourne Cricket Ground by the afternoon bounce, soaring up to A$1,781 for a direct flight.
Traveling the other way, the cheapest overnight return flights were A$440 less.
An additional flight put on by Qantas between Sydney and Melbourne following the final siren on Saturday sold out overnight.
A spokesperson said corporate travelers were changing their plans due to an additional public holiday on Thursday for Queen Elizabeth’s death, and fans were snapping up bookings in their place.
In Victoria, the Friday before the grand final is already a public holiday.
An overnight carpool was beckoning for those unwilling to fork out the costs.
Just one premium seat for A$167 each was left on the overnight Greyhound bus from Sydney to Melbourne on Friday, arriving at 5:30am on Saturday. Four premium seats were available on Thursday, while today’s seats had also sold out.
Sleeper and first-class cabins were almost sold out on the overnight XPT train to Southern Cross on Thursday evening, while no trains were available on Friday evening or on Sunday for a return trip.
For Swans fans living in Victoria, the handy commute would be ever-sweeter with the backing of home supporters.
Sean Row is among them. He managed to land a ticket after missing out on the ballot in 2016 — the last time Sydney made it to a grand final.
He was at the Melbourne Cricket Ground in 2012, the most recent Sydney flag when the Swans kicked the last four goals of the match to beat Hawthorn by less than two goals.
“It was insane,” he said. “I imagine it’ll be quite similar. I’d say we get at least 10,000 Melbourne-based Swans fans at games here [outside of finals]. There’s a lot of us.”
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