Qantas CEO Alan Joyce has returned to the skies for the first time in three months, and shared the differences travellers will experience flying on Australia’s largest airline.

“I’ve probably flown between Sydney and Melbourne more than 1,000 times,” Mr Joyce shared on Friday in a post on professional social media sited LinkedIn. “But I’ve never been more excited than I was flying that route today,” he said.

Mr Joyce said it “was great to be back in the air and to see how well our team and customers are adapting to the new norm of flying” but acknowledged it was “a little different to my last flight”.

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He said passengers used hand sanitiser at the gate and scanned their own electronic boarding passes.

“Many passengers” also used the supplied sanitising wipes to wipe down arm rests and tray tables, and the airline recommended people wear masks “for extra peace of mind”.

He said that “might have seemed odd a few months ago, but felt surprisingly normal”.

Qantas made the changes based on medical advice and customer feedback, but Mr Joyce said the company also drew on its experiences operating the flights that repatriated Australians stuck overseas as the coronavirus pandemic shut down most international travel.

He said the aircraft cabins had been fitted with hospital grade high-efficiency particulate air filters, which remove “99.9 per cent of bacteria and virus from the air”.

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Mr Joyce said the air in the cabin is changed “about every five minutes”, which combined with the air filters was “particularly reassuring”.

He added that it will still be a while “before things feel truly ‘normal’”.

“But there is cautious optimism that we are starting to emerge from what has been a very challenging chapter for everyone.”

He said he’ll soon be off for a weekend away to Hobart, to visit the Museum of Old and New Art and the city’s famous cafes and restaurants, and encouraged other Australians to “help support our tourism operators, towns and small businesses who have struggled to survive during these difficult times”.

Qantas is working with “state and federal tourism partners to provide you with some great holiday and weekend getaway options with low fares”, Mr Joyce also announced.

He signed off the post by thanking Australians for their support.

“We look forward to welcoming you on board a Qantas or Jetstar flight again soon,” he said.