This week we answer webinar questions with Travel Josh Engstrom from Liberty Travel about Australian flight caps, the Australian borders, returning to the US, and holiday travel.

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

Webinar Viewer Questions and Answers

  • GAI: What is your expectation for when borders will open to incoming passengers (Australian citizens living in the US)?

    • Answer: As the caseloads continue to increase in the US, I predict no lifting of the current measures until the caseload decreases.
  • YELDA: Please outline/clarify the exact steps necessary for me to get home to Melbourne during covid !! Not clear at all on the embassy website nor Smarttraveller website.

    • Answer: ATM – your best route would be to fly into Sydney, complete your two weeks quarantine there, then fly to MEL the day you leave quarantine.
  • REBEKAH: When are Australian borders expected to reopen? If I try to visit my family in Australia, will I be able to leave the country?

    • Answer: borders are open to get into Australia for Oz citizens and immediate family of non-citizens – it’s finding a flight that is difficult. If you hold residence outside Oz, should not have an issue leaving
  • VANESSA: Do you have any insight into being able to leave Australia to return to the US? I want to travel to Australia for a 2 month period and I’m aware of the quarantine requirements and costs to do so. But I’m worried that I won’t be allowed to return to the US, I’ve heard various stories of applications being denied for people leaving Australia. For reference, I’m an Aussie citizen and have a valid US O-1 working visa. I work in creative industries in both US and Australia, I have an active contract and lease in the US and a dog at my home address here.

    • Answer: You won’t have any issues leaving after your stray in OZ – take copies fo those bits of proof of this
  • PAUL: My Family are in Inverell NSW and Brisbane QLD and I usually visit them over Christmas for three weeks- so what are my chances this year if there is a 2-week quarantine?

    • Answer: There’s no exception to the quarantine, so if you want a three-week trip home, you will only get one week with your family before having to come home.

If you missed last night’s webinar or want to recap anything, you can watch a recording below!

Top Travel Tip for the Week

See flights with airlines that you haven’t heard recently as being our go-to airlines for getting us where we need to be? Unsure of whether to book them or not?

I advise anybody toying with the idea to book an airline that is outside of our go-to Airlines, to go to the arrival city airport webpage, click on their daily arrivals – and see if that airline is consistently and regularly flying into that airport.

If it is – this could be an option for you, if not – ditch this airline as an option.

Availability over the next period (16th Jan – 30th Jan)

I see economy seats!!! This is great news, the first time this has happened in a few months too! Great news for people that can hold on until towards the end of January.

Australian flight and travel cap updates

Here’s an update about the increases to the caps being rolled out:

  • Care flights from the UK and India into Darwin have started now, this will take some of the pressure off the caps coming from the US into Australia – great news.
  • They have also increased the caps (only a small increase of 300 or so) so we hope that this increase continues.
  • Current increases have taken place in Sydney already, who’s cap has increased by 500 per week. We have then seen Delta increase it’s flights LAX – SYD to 6 days a week. Great news.
  • Brisbane has increased its cap by 500 per week, am starting to see Air NZ flying into Brisbane again (11 hr transit in AKL though so watch out), this is promising..
  • Perth caps have increased by 500 a week! I can finally see some options for flights into Perth in FEB/MAR – this is significant as I haven’t seen flights into PER for months now!

Why is it so hard to get to Perth?

Our Western state is proving to be one of the most difficult places on earth to get to at the moment. Current bottlenecks, a state govt. stubborn to let their people come back home and airlines with long histories with routes into Perth are staying away as well. Combined with difficulty landing in Sydney for eg. doing QR there, then trying to fly into Perth domestically is JUST as hard!

We hope that pressure to continue to increase caps, letting anyone of us who wants to come home to be able to without all of the extra stress.

Why is it so hard to get into Brisbane/Cairns?

Same same but different to Perth – traditionally Brisbane and to a lesser extent Cairns have been major hubs for international travel. Caps and restrictions into Brisbane, particularly for us in North America – Qantas and Virgin quitting it’s BNE – LAX routes, Air NZ resuming a valid connection from the US through AKL is great news – these flights are scattered over DEC/JAN but they give us some more options.

When can I fly into Melbourne again?

This is the Million Dollar Question.

I hope that they are taking flights again in December, let’s hope the viral count stays as low as possible to make this a reality.

Three-month outlook and holiday travel

We’re almost in November!! Availability and Flights home at Xmas time is already incredibly tight. Decreased options, limited availability on those options, and general overall worldwide disruptions will make it very difficult to get home if you leave it too late.

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

Six-month flight outlook and travel

Let’s hope in the new year, we are better at living with the virus, are better at keeping virus caseloads down, and that the govt. takes strong action to allow its citizens to come home.

If you have the means to stay put into the new year, I expect with caps increasing or being cut altogether, we will be able to once again head home for whatever reason we like without severe financial and mental stress.

Where can you travel right 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

Latest from individual airlines

Air New Zealand (NZ)

Starting to connect from the US again in December! Great news for adding their route back as a possible option for us all. Just connecting two days a week for now, but let’s hope this increases. I can see flights to Brisbane and Sydney for DEC/JAN/FEB – and I would suspect very soon MEL too! This would be a great development!

Air Canada (AC)

Massive news last  week with Air Canada cancelling all of their flights into Brisbane and Sydney. Air Canada is not offering refunds, they are only offering credits.

This greatly impacts those intending to fly in the coming 6 weeks, with little to no alternative available for these people. Please contact me for any emergency flights back to Oz, keeping in mind only premium or business may be available.

American Airlines (AA)

American Airlines Flights LAX – SYD to commence in November!

This is just the best news to find yesterday. More flights means it will be a tad easier to get home now!

Starting the 10th Nov – flights will depart Tues/Wed/Fri/Sun – BIZ/PREME/ECON available – email me to inquire/book.

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 Tuesdays and some Thursdays in Sept. It’s almost too late to book any reasonably priced economy seats for September – but as we move into October, it looks like United is ramping up its LAX – SYD route, offering daily flights and decent priced economy flights after the 9th of October.

Delta (DL)

Flying 6 days a week (LAX-SYD) starting 1st November – MON/TUE/WED/FRI/SAT/SUN

Singapore Airlines (SQ) & Cathay Pacific (CX)

Starting to see flights with these two airlines into Perth for FEB/MAR dates, this is a great outcome for PER people!

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)

Please note that all passengers transiting UAE will need to provide negative COVID tests – please check out info on the specific airline for more info.

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, engstromj@libertytravel.com

Josh Engstrom Liberty Travel