COVID-19: Australian borders re-open TODAY!
582 days since we last had quarantine free travel into Sydney Airport. The drought was broken by Qantas flight QF12 from Los Angeles touching down in Sydney at 6 am this morning. That is the first of 16 international flights into Sydney today. Mind you not all of them are necessarily carrying passengers, some might be just freight.
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It’s hard to know if the floodgates have re-opened. Qantas was going to bring forward its international flights into and out of Melbourne but has put them back again to 27 November. It is however bringing forward the re-start of A380 flights scheduled for July 2022 and now brought forward to 27 March. Perhaps it is seeing booking patterns that are slow to start given the imminent northern hemisphere winter but is seeing healthy booking trends for the summer (Australia’s winter). That would make sense.
Flying into Australia today are flights with Qantas, Singapore Airlines, Japan Airlines, Delta, United, Vietnam Airlines, All Nippon Airways, Air New Zealand, Air Niugini, Airclain, Cathay Pacific, Fiji Airways, and Emirates. 16 flights in all.
Flights are currently prioritised for Australian citizens, permanent residents, their families and parents according to Federal Government requirements. It’s not clear to me when general travel and international tourism will resume. Also, remember you need to be double vaccinated with a vaccine recognised and approved of in Australia in order to take advantage of quarantine free travel into Australia.
With new procedures and vaccine checks and testing, expect delays at the airport. Qantas is advising arriving 4 hours early for international flights. That’s a good reason to make sure you have lounge access.
Vaccinated passengers only
International quarantine free travel applies only to the double vaxxed (some children excluded – check with your airline or travel agent). You will also need to undergo testing to gain access to most countries, including your return to Australia. Expect at least 3 tests, one before you leave, one at the entry to your country of destination, and one a few days after arrival. Something similar will apply to your return. Also, remember that these won’t be free like normal in-country testing in Australia. You will need to pay. Budget for AU$200 per test, although they might be half this amount.
Remember to be patient as all these new procedures will be new to staff and to passengers, and there will be confusion and anomalies. Just be grateful that travel is on again!