This week we chat with Travel Josh Engstrom from Liberty Travel about ScoMo's latest, the changes to travel caps into Australia, the impact of these changes to flights and airlines, bottlenecks ahoy, November, and December flight availability, and viewer questions!
Information is changing regularly so be sure to check back each week for updates.
Weekly Travel Advice Chat with Travel Josh
This week we chat with Travel Josh Engstrom from Liberty Travel about flying into Australia, the Prime Minister's suggestions of the lifting of caps, changes of flight availability into Australia, bottlenecks, flights into Brisbane, Perth, Melbourne, and Adelaide, and Air Canada's new routes. We also answer viewer questions!
If you have a question that you'd like to ask for next week, click below and you can let us know!
How is travel looking in the next three months?
We’re already on the other side of September! 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 will make it very difficult to get home if you leave it too late.
Australian flight and travel caps
Scott Morrison has announced that the Australian international arrival caps will be increased for travel into NSW, Queensland, and WA. This means a further 1,500 Australians a week will be able to return home. Unfortunately at this stage Victoria is still not accepting international arrivals.
From 27 September 2020, NSW will be able to receive an additional 500 returning travellers a week. Queensland and Western Australia will be recieve an additional 200 per week.
From 4 October 2020, Queensland will move to 500 extra a week, and by 11 October 2020, WA will also accept an extra 500 a week.
Why is it so hard to get into 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 quitting it’s AKL – BNE route all combined to make Queensland also very difficult to get to.
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 leading up to the Oct 24th meeting, let’s hope that they sort out their QR system (abolishing mandatory hotel QR would be a start).
We can do better, let’s hope this space starts filling with positive news soon for people immediately trying to get home.
Three-month and holiday travel
We’re almost in October!! 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.
Availability over the next period (18th Nov – 2nd Dec)
I am seeing a few dates in this range with economy seating with American Airlines, however only a few days – everything else is Premium economy and up.
Contact me (details below) if you want help finding economy fares back to Oz.
3 Month Outlook
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.
6 Month Outlook
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:
Latest from individual airlines
Air Canada (AC)
Airline has been selling flights into Brisbane from Vancouver for a while now, with flights to commence 25th October (running 7 days a week!) This is great news. A word of caution – we will have to wait and see if this route is a consistent and successful way for Queenslanders to get home to Australia. Watch this space!
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.
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.
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
DELTA Air Lines has resumed its Australian operations, WED/FRI & SUN. Currently – You will need to book at least 8 weeks 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)
Changi Airport is going to open its airport soon to non-Singapore Nationals, 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.
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.
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, [email protected]
This week's video transcript
America Josh: Hi everyone. I'm America, Josh, and welcome to the September 30 edition of travel updates with travel. Josh Engstrom from Liberty Travel. Get, Hey, Josh, how are you?
Travel Josh Engstrom: G'day g'day I'm good, Josh. how are you?
America Josh: I'm very well, thank you. It's funny. I just realized every time we start you say, g'day, g'day. And my transcribing software has a meltdown.
Every time I start, your first quote is always like
*silly nonsense noises*. and you're well?
Travel Josh Engstrom: Yeah. Yeah. I'm very well. Thank you. And I hope everyone out there is staying healthy and strong. we certainly all need a little bit of resilience at the moment, so yes, very healthy.
America Josh: Agreed, jumping straight in.
Again, we've had some fantastic questions submitted by viewers. and we're getting lots of great feedback every week. So if you do have something to contribute or something you want to ask head to Americajosh.com/travelJosh, and you can see Josh's latest blog, as well as the spot to submit some questions.
Travel Josh Engstrom: We've also got, we've also got an update, from last week's question, which is right. It's like having a soul conversation with our listeners and our readers. Which is great. I really like that.
America Josh: Absolutely fantastic. So to jump right in, I guess the question we want to ask every week is have we seen any movement in a positive direction, about availability in the next few months?
Travel Josh Engstrom: unfortunately we haven't really seen any, new flights, being added by any of our three American carriers. what we discussed last week with Air Canada, at the moment, there's actually, it looks like they've launched their full amount of flights. so, we'll discuss that a little bit further.
in terms of the short to medium term, there hasn't really been any real changes in availability, but as we move forward through to January, February, and March, there's definitely plenty of availability in those later months. January, February, March.
America Josh: Fantastic. on that one, you just mentioned a candidate.
what, what is the change in what's happening with Air Canada right now?
Travel Josh Engstrom: So Air Canada have launched their route from Vancouver to Brisbane and Vancouver to Sydney, and they're selling seats for those. So that has definitely increased. the availability of seats are for Australians in North America to get.
into Australia. However, that also means that you now have to transit Canada. So you need, you have to leave the U S and guard with another country before you can go to your home country, which is not ideal. but it also means that hopefully for people that are in a really difficult situation, but this provides yet another option for them to at least deliberate and go through the pros and cons and work out whether that option is going to be good for you.
America Josh: No, I think some variety and some options are definitely going to put some people's mind at ease to at least know they've got something out there which, which leads me to. You mentioned Brisbane. so a few people have sort of asked the questions about some of the other airports and locations that are opening up like Perth, Brisbane, Adelaide, and Melbourne.
What is happening with flights into those cities?
Travel Josh Engstrom: At the moment. It's so incredibly difficult to get into other places in Australia, other than Sydney, Brisbane is increasingly difficult to get into, with Air Canada being the only real North American option available for people. and Perth is almost completely impossible to get into at the moment.
we're hoping over the course of the next couple of weeks that this changes and that airlines that have longstanding and historic roots into these cities in Australia, do start releasing availability into that market. Again, I was just, I just got off the phone to a client to send, we had a, we had a zoom.
meeting and, we were talking about cafe flights into Perth. And, what I said to him, was that this route Cathay Pacific or Singapore airlines, they are long established routes by these airlines into our country. And at the moment with the caps, they have obviously disintegrated into zero ability to be able to use those airlines.
But the hope is now that the caps are being increased and as they do stagger in upwards direction, that these long held historic roots go back into flying. And that's my, my best.
America Josh: No fantastic. And, sort of once we do start to see those things last week, we mentioned bottlenecks and sort of where we see the timeline going and how things will improve.
Do you have any new information or anything you just want to clarify about. Those kinds of timelines and bottlenecks.
Travel Josh Engstrom: Yeah. The bottleneck is still in full force. there, the amount of people since we started, having a look at this seriously, in terms of caps and how it was increasingly difficult for people over the course of the last month, the bottleneck is still.
Pretty much at the same stage that it is, it is creeping up now into December. So we are seeing that bottleneck continue and it will continue while the, while the caps are at 4,000 or 6,000 people are globally heading into Australia, the North American and us and Canadian, Australians that are living over here.
We make up just such a small fraction of that bottleneck that it's gonna take a long time for that bottleneck to be resolved. so at the moment, it's really important to just keep checking and keep your eye on, how this whole situation is going. And I encourage everyone to be watching this weekly because things are changing all the time and you really want to know where you're at with everything.
And, yeah, start having a look and start monitoring those bottlenecks because at the moment there's no change. So it's still really difficult to get home.
America Josh: Know, one thing that I'm on the, those changes. One thing that we've seen on Monday was I think it was Monday night in the U S time, was Scott Morrison announced or the prime minister announced, some information about him not wanting travel caps at all anymore in some of the States or at least lifting them for some countries arrivals. Do you have anything? I think there's some confusion about what exactly that meant. Did you just want to touch on that one?
Travel Josh Engstrom: Yeah. So there's increasing talk about, removing the, need to hotel quarantine.
If you're coming from a country that has less than 2%. or less than a 2% overhead rates. So, I mean, that is that's, I'm welcoming every part of good news. it is going to, if it does get underway, it is going to help some Australians globally to get home. the problem being that. North America or at least the U S will probably not be on that list.
America Josh: no, it's a good point. I mean, unfortunately, yeah, we are, you know, we're not on that side of the percentage barrier, so it,
it is ideally, you know, if some people can avoid the process of going through a quarantine, we're hoping that. So that the bottlenecks you just spoke
Travel Josh Engstrom: Canada maybe part of that bubble.
So it would be interesting to play that scenario out. i.e. If Canada is part of that bubble, can I fly up to Canada and spend time there and then flight direct without having to do the quarantine? obviously in Canada, you don't have mandated quarantine this, so you would be able to, perhaps, avoid.
that Australian quarantine, if Canada was part of the bubble, but, it's just so difficult to navigate at the moment. So I suppose it's just a case of, you know, keeping track of what's going on and hoping that there's going to be some movement and some action.
America Josh: Yeah, no, that's a, I mean, it is good to know.
There's always going to be. Information flying out. So we'll hopefully be able to clarify that for people each week. And that leads me perfectly, the perfect segue into some of the questions that we did get submitted in the last week.
Travel Josh Engstrom: This is, this is my favorite part. This is where I feel like I'm really kind of talking to our audience here.
So I think I need to ask questions.
America Josh: I need to build a title sequence in a book book book. so the first question is from LA and LA rights. I read that you recommended book. Yeah. Now for December flights, do we think there would be any updates, less new flights after the October 24 decision also? flights booked to Melbourne, just getting canceled now while international arrivals are closed or our Elena's rerouting in the interim adding a domestic leg.
Thanks so much what a confusing time.
Travel Josh Engstrom: Yeah. And I can definitely agree that it is a very confusing time. So LA I'd definitely say that, I can break that down into two kind of parts, I suppose. definitely a good time to start booking your Christmas flights now. yeah, as we were talking about in previous week's videos, but availability is getting tighter and tighter and tighter, and very soon it's going to be incredibly difficult to find any economy tickets at all to go home during Christmas time.
so definitely get in now there's still some, there's still some flights that are in economy and, this is where a travel agent can come in really handy because we're able to do mixed class seating. We can do mixed class tickets so we could get you maybe a home in premium, but then come home in economy when there's better availability, we can really mix and match it up.
So that's a great question and a great reason to reach out to a travel agent. the second part of the question is about our flights into Melbourne. So there's been a complete stop sell on flights, going into Melbourne from overseas for a while. Now that is continuing from what my understanding is, at least for the next couple of weeks.
And then recently, as we were discussing the bottlenecks, that really then makes Melbourne into a huge bottleneck of people trying to get getting to Melbourne. Now, the airlines aren't necessarily rerouting people to Sydney. I have heard what the airlines are actually doing at the moment is providing full refunds for people that have booked into Melbourne.
And then that refund allows them to repurchase another flight into Sydney. Now it's a bit that can be really difficult because obviously if you purchase the flight to Melbourne five months ago, you probably got it at a pretty reasonable, decent price and getting a refund on that ticket now to then refund an option into Sydney, especially when the availability is so tight, it's going to mean that it's going to be incredibly difficult for you to get a similar price.
Seat back home into Sydney. So. Unfortunately, that's really difficult at the moment. So, I definitely, if you want to chat and reach out to me, definitely LA reached out to me and we can have a run through and have a look at any options for you.
America Josh: Fantastic. the second question comes from Stan, who sent in a question last week.
hi, Josh's thanks so much for answering my question. Last week, I've been checking the cafe Pacific regularly and have been able to get a ticket Seattle Hong Kong Perth on January 31. I'm still trying to get home sooner. As my resources are stretched thin, I heard a rumor that Australia will lift restrictions on 17 December.
Could you please speak to this? Infinite? Thanks Stan.
Travel Josh Engstrom: So Stan, thanks a lot for following up and letting us know where you're at with that. it is really actually quite good news for you. That cafe is offering you an option on your already existing ticket. So that is great news. unfortunately at the moment, Perth is incredibly difficult to get into.
So I would estimate in if you've got a flight in that early to mid January, I would say that that's probably your best bet. It's really horrible to say this at the moment, but getting into Perth direct from overseas is incredibly difficult. Now the second part of your question is, is. You know, with the upcoming meetings between the state and federal government, hopefully that first meeting on the 24th of October shed some light and perhaps some of those long established roots that we talked about into birth open up again.
That would be great. As well as what you were saying about maybe the possibility of, availability increasing in December, getting ready for people coming home for Christmas at this stage, I haven't heard anything to that extent. And I haven't seen by looking at availability or window that suddenly opens up and there's ways for people to get into Perth.
So at the moment, unfortunately, unless you were willing to bitch that cafe flight and head into Sydney and then try and navigate your way from Sydney to Perth, there's no other way at the moment.
America Josh: No, and I think we do see a lot of speculation on Facebook groups and a lot of, you know, I think one person writes that they think something might happen in the next person reports.
I'm hearing that. And then we kind of snowball into it's happening. So at the moment, we'll try and clarify that every week. but thank you Josh, as always every week. We'll, we'll be here. And if you do have a question or if you'd like to read some of the updates that Josh writes every week, please do head to Americajosh.com/traveljosh, you can sign up for the newsletter there as well, which means that this gets delivered to your inbox every Wednesday. Thanks Josh. Have a lovely week.
Travel Josh Engstrom: Have a great week guys.