Every week we’re going to check in with Travel Josh Engstrom, Travel Expert from Liberty Travel to get an update on flights between the United States and Australia, as well as hearing real-world information about what traveling looks like. This is the update for the week of the 26th of August, 2020.

Information is changing regularly so be sure to check back each week for updates.

Please note that all flights coming into Australia, have reciprocal flights leaving, so while the schedules will be different of course if you see an airline coming in – they will also be leaving to go back to point of origin.

As many countries enter phase one and two of lifting lockdowns and re-opening borders, it’s sometimes tough to work out whether you can fly into or transit different countries. Let me give you a great trusted link to get any info on entering countries:

https://www.iatatravelcentre.com/international-travel-document-news/1580226297.htm

This is IATA – the world body for all things air travel – a trusted source and they are updating regularly.

Weekly Reports ON VIDEO!

Travel Josh Engstrom has very kindly offered to do weekly interviews with me (America Josh) where I can ask him general (and specific) questions about travel and answer some of the questions you might have.

Here’s the first one and the transcript is at the bottom of the page.

If you would like to ask your own question, you can!

Where can you travel now?

I get this question a lot and here are some options tailored to the US resident done by my work Liberty Travel – handy quick link to get started:

https://www.libertytravel.com/travel-articles/where-americans-can-travel-now

Can you believe I received my 1st Xmas flight home request this week? Why is it a good idea to book now?

Yes, we are still in August! This year above all others I encourage anybody wanting to go home for the month of December to please start looking now. Decreased options, limited availability on those options, and general overall worldwide disruptions make it a perfect storm if you don’t act soon.

Current flight inbound passenger number restrictions extended to October 24th – the meeting of states and federal govt to update fortnightly from now on.

Read this from Chief Medical Officer in Canberra yesterday:

“In terms of international arrivals, the restrictions on our international border has been an important component of control of this pandemic in Australia from the beginning. That decrease in people leaving Australia, and coming back, has been a crucial component of that control.

“In terms of the International arrivals, we have 4,000 people coming in every week, half of those into Sydney, and so there are ways of coming back, they are restricted in terms of the number of flights available and therefore the number of seats on those flights. But people can come back, it’s not a completely closed border, they come back into the hotel quarantine system, which has been set up by states and territories.”

This makes getting on a flight to Oz increasingly difficult – especially trying to book your flights only a couple of weeks out of travel.

My advice is to start planning at least 2 months before you fly – I know that that’s hard considering the everyday tragedy unraveling before us and constant changes to laws and travel regulations. But, with the increased flexibility airlines are offering, it’s better to have a seat you may have to change, rather than no seat at all.

Current limitations:

  • Sydney – 350 arrivals per day
  • Perth – 525 arrivals per week
  • Brisbane – 500 arrivals per week
  • Adelaide – 500 arrivals per week
  • Canberra & Darwin – flights discussed on a case-by-case basis
  • Hobart – no international flights
  • Melbourne – no international flight arrivals* – This is incredibly difficult news!!!

Availability of flights over the next two weeks (3rd Sep – 17th Sep)

Due to the current limits availability is now super tight. Looking at availability for the SFO – SYD & LAX – SYD routes operated by United and Delta, very few seats remain to purchase – It is almost impossible to get any economy seats home at the moment.

Flights will continue to be drastically reduced due to caps on Arrivals

Australia has capped its inbound passenger numbers, this is going to impact getting into Australia and make a difficult process even more stressful and uncertain. The importance of booking with a travel agent showcased in these turbulent times.

Routes most likely to be affected: LAX – SYD; SFO – SYD – United have already come out and capped their westbound capacity to 50 pax per flight!

Hotel Quarantine

The Australian Government is charging travelers now for their quarantine.

*NB The process for checking your purchase date for tickets is done at the hotel, please contact me for assistance on how to best plan for this.

Airlines that have changed flights or plans

Air New Zealand (NZ)

Have put a hold on a majority of its new bookings for flights to and from Australia until the current 24th October reassessment date (Sydney looks like their only option), this means that for new bookings – Air NZ is increasingly difficult

United (UA)

Still the most reliable route to Australia for New York-based expats – Still only from SFO – SYD – Availability is very tight for the coming weeks departure. If you urgently need to get home, this is your safest bet. If you can’t find seats let me know as I can waitlist seats as above.

United is expanding to also offer LAX – SYD flights, flights will operate Tuesday’s only after originally being every day – looking at this schedule over the next month’s availability is already very tight with most economy seats already sold out (only biz available).

Daily service from San Francisco to Sydney through August – still have not had any problems with these flights. United have just posted their upcoming routes for August/September and great news, Sydney flights are still going to be running daily from SFO.

Delta (DL)

DELTA Air Lines has resumed its Australian operations, WED/FRI & SUN. There are flights from NYC to connect in LAX. The addition is part of a staged global resumption of operations adding 1,000 flights system-wide subject to demand and evolving COVID-19 restrictions. You will need to book at least a month out to get any economy seats – availability is extremely tight. – Getting good feedback on this service, and the ones I’ve booked all got home safe and sound – let me know if you want help to book Delta flights.

Singapore Airlines (SQ)

There doesn’t appear to be any connections from the US that don’t include overnight stop-overs in Singapore, making this not a very attractive option for people.

Airlines and flights that have stayed the same

Virgin Australia (VA)

Now that it looks clearer that this airline will remain in the longer term, a media release from the two new stakeholders state that Virgin Australia will honor the more the $100 million worth of tickets canceled due to COVID and the company going into bankruptcy, this is great news for Aussies in the US who had their original VA flights canceled. Unsure whether they will be able to get refunds still, but at least when they do start flying again, you will be able to use your existing credit.

QANTAS (QF)

QF were expected to start their LAX-SYD route in August, this has now been canceled, checking their schedule, I can’t see any flights until at least November – this is a very sad departure, with new updates to come as they are released.

Qantas has updated their refund policy – so that it is easier to understand and hopefully easier for those whose flights were canceled to get a refund.

Qantas (and Virgin Australia) this week, as expected, suspended all remaining international flights that were in operation in cooperation with the Australian Government (https://www.smh.com.au/business/companies/qantas-and-virgin-australia-suspend-remaining-international-flights-20200608-p550jl.html):

Qantas and Virgin Australia have re-grounded their remaining international passenger operations after government funding for the handful of overseas routes they were flying came to an end.

Emirates (EK), Etihad (EY) and Qatar (QR)

With no official statement – these airlines anecdotally are bumping economy class passengers from their flights – this is a worrying development, as this really does put people in jeopardy if they can’t afford a biz class ticket. Please contact me before you book any of these airlines and we can look at these options together.

With Emirates, you can now fly direct into PER/SYD/BNE via Dubai.

NYC – BNE – Thursdays only

NYC – PER – Wednesday’s only; DXB – MEL – Tuesday’s, Thursday’s & Friday’s; DXB – SYD – Monday’s, Wednesday’s & Saturday’s

ETIHAD – daily connections from NYC – SYD

QATAR –  NYC – BNE – MON/WED/FRI; NYC – PER TUE/THU/SAT/SUN

Questions & Bookings

Do you have any questions? Do you need travel advice? Contact Josh by his email, [email protected]

Josh Engstrom Liberty Travel