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Travel & Flights Update: Caps, October Booked Out, and Embassies

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This week we chat with Travel Josh Engstrom from Liberty Travel about the Australian Government's support at embassies abroad, some success stories of people getting home, the latest on Immigration Caps, how early you should be planning your flights and travel right now, November flight availability and more!

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

Weekly Travel Advice Chat with Travel Josh

In our weekly video series, I chat with Josh about everything you need to know for your upcoming travel plans.

If you have a question that you'd like to ask for next week, click below and you can let us know!

The human element to the Caps on inbound travel is making the news, but little has changed in the last week

The travel caps continue to be politicized, fingers being pointed, little action taking place. What does this mean for you? Availability will continue to be extremely tight while the players in this saga continue with inaction and blame game tactics. There is talk about increasing the caps to 6000 per week – the states are now in a fight with the federal govt. to which states should increase their cap.

Meeting on Friday – let’s hope we get that cap increased!

Current Australian flight caps

It’s looking more likely that current caps will remain in place while the state and federal Governments discuss who needs to act. Current statements that read: All Aussies overseas will be able to make it home for Xmas does not sound hopeful considering Xmas is still many months away. Not great news for us.

You will need to book your flights at least 6 weeks in advance to avoid the $6000 tickets. 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.

  • Sydney – 350 arrivals per day
  • Perth – 525 arrivals per week
  • Brisbane – 500 arrivals per week
  • Adelaide – 500 arrivals per week
  • Canberra & Darwin – limits on each and flights discussed on a case-by-case basis
  • Hobart – no international flight
  • Melbourne – no international flight arrivals

Availability of flights over the next two weeks (18th Oct – 2nd Nov)

All seats mentioned last week have long gone now. I am not seeing any economy seats able to be booked until the 10th November – this is madness!!!

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!

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:

Updates from individual airlines

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.

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 (DL)

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 (

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


Questions & Bookings

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

Josh Engstrom Liberty Travel

This week's video transcript

America Josh: Hi everyone. I'm America, Josh. And welcome to our September 16. Catch up with Travel Josh Engstrom from Liberty Travel. G'day Josh, how are you?

Travel Josh Engstrom: Hey, Josh. I'm good. I'm good. Big shout out to everyone on all the different social medias. Hello, how are you doing? Please give us a thumbs up if you read our article and you're getting something from it.

America Josh: Yeah, we love hearing from people. We do get some really lovely email. We do get some really lovely emails from her. Yeah. They're getting in touch with you. So if you do have questions and if you do have concerns or anything you want to follow up on from one of the, the chats that we've had, feel free to click on the link below or go to I always try and match up my fingers to magically produce that.

Travel Josh Engstrom: Yeah.

We're getting a lot of inquiry and it's good to hear. So keep it coming. That's what it is we're here to help.

America Josh: It is exactly. And I mean, on that to jump right in, can you tell us, we sort of, we focus a little bit on the negative, because by nature of what's going on, it's it is a bit negative.

It's tough and people are finding it difficult, but just for the sake of balance so that we can sort of reassure people. Are you having people actually getting back to Australia? Is it, is it successful for some.

Travel Josh Engstrom: Yeah. I mean, it sounds like a, a bit of a funny question to ask at the moment, but yeah. you're, you're right.

I am getting people back to Australia every day. And, from my understanding is that the caps that are currently on. for inbound travel, to Australia, they are reaching, their 4,000, person per week cap. So 4,000 people are getting into Australia every week. And there's lots of success stories.

at the moment just getting home is only half of the journey. so there's a lot of other things going on. once people do arrive in Australia, but we are, we are getting people. All of us, the travel industry as a whole, aren't getting Australians back home.

America Josh: No, that's wonderful. I thought it was just important.

Cause we're where we do. I'm sort of reading a few people asking, you know, we're seeing all these horror stories. So I just wanted to make sure that people do know that, you know, some people are getting back and it's worth sort of following the things that we've outlined and the stuff that we're going to talk about today to make sure.

You've got the best chance. and as Josh talked about last week, it's making sure you're giving yourself a bit of a window to get back. Not sort of, unfortunately, not expecting that you're going to get the first flight that you might attempt, but in the following days and the following weeks, but you know, you will get on a flight back.

Yeah.  Related to that…

Travel Josh Engstrom: Just one last little thing on there, Josh, some of the people that are getting home at the moment, did start planning to get home at least three to four months ago. So it, it's not always, immediately easy at the moment to get home. Yeah. But it just goes to show that people that are preparing in advance, are generally having the highest amount of success and the best outcomes.

America Josh: No.

Good, good to know. and on that, for people who are having trouble getting back in is worth reaching out to your local embassies and consulates, they are there, they can't always do much in the way of actually like, you know, booking flights or anything. Yeah. They can be there as a resource when you do need help.

So if you are stuck in a country, you should, I sort of always emphasize that you should never be. Homeless because they are there to support you. So make sure you do reach out to embassies and consulates around the world, if you are having issues, just speaking of those issues, where are we at with caps?

What's what, what are we looking at?

Travel Josh Engstrom: so in the last week there was a lot of, media attention thrown on this issue. and, the state and federal, federal government did have, a catch up to discuss. in a meeting on Friday last week

and at the end of it, no clear decision was reached to increase the caps. and the status quo holds, which is. it's extremely difficult to get home right now. Very disappointing update today.

America Josh: It is. It is. But, so the, the seats we talked about last week, I think you mentioned to me that. They're basically all gone.


Travel Josh Engstrom: yeah. It's, it's amazing doing these weekly updates and to be able to see firsthand and on the ground, the changes that are happening each week with availability, it feels like only a couple of days ago I was looking at availability saying that. we had some availability in October in economy, class.

so jump onto it. And, within days, I can't actually at the moment find any economy, class fairs, to Australia until at least November the 10th, which is just horrible to say, considering that it's only the 14th today when we're doing this video. So that's, that's, you need about eight weeks at the moment, in advance to be able to get an economy class seat.

America Josh: Okay. That's a, that's really important. And I think that also goes to something that we've touched on every single week is if you are looking for travel further in the year, or if you're looking for December, it's not too soon to do that right now. Like jump on those things. Plan ahead, plan some contingencies.

Travel Josh Engstrom: If the availability holds and everything remains the same. I would imagine that by the next time we talk about this. that even those dates in November have moved forward, coming into December, I, I honestly feel like, it's moving so quickly at the moment. and availability is flying off the shelves so quickly at the moment that we're going to be stuck in a position very soon, where we're talking about instead of two months in advance, we're talking three months in advance and then it's just gonna continue going forward from there.

So, yeah. Yeah. Like for people trying to get home at the moment, and people that are flexible with going home at the moment, I suppose, you know, you could advise, that maybe they push forward their, their plans. so that there's more availability. Otherwise, availability remains very tight.

America Josh: Okay.

So if hypothetically, you know, they've got another review on October 24th, to review the caps and lay the process out for you Australia. Yeah. If we saw the caps completely and they said, you know, we're, we're open for business. There might be some quarantine, still fingers crossed. Yeah. Yeah. do you foresee, that would mean that, you know, we'd go back to normal on October 25 or do you think they're going to be sort of longer term issues that should people be holding out for that hope.

Travel Josh Engstrom: I wouldn't be holding out hope, for any changes right now. the only thing I'm basing that on is past experience with these caps. it was immediately known, by the powers that be that the caps were gonna make it extremely difficult for people to come home. And yet we are now staring down the barrel of the caps being.

around now for, three months. And as we've seen, immediately with the caps, availability got tighter and tighter. so if, if the caps were to be, removed and lifted, I would expect that the bottleneck that's been created from this to last several weeks. until those, those people that are looking for imminent departure are actually able to get home, which then frees up space continuing on.

the bottleneck that's been created now is you're looking at, I think, latest statistics where, and this is just people registered, but 25,000 people wanting to come home. so as you can imagine with the bottleneck, the way it is, that's a good two months in advance to, you know, getting thousands of people home.

So I would imagine even if the caps were lifted, that it would take a considerable amount of time for, economy seats to be readily available to those wanting to come home.

America Josh: Alrighty. Now that's a again, good to know, make sure you're planning in advance. And even if you, you know, hope that they will be lifted, it's not going to mean it all goes back.

Travel Josh Engstrom: It's not going to be an overnight thing, but apps third. And then the next day there's thousand dollar flights getting home again, it's not going to be like that.

America Josh: Okay, good to know. so future plans, travels. so future plan travel. What am I saying? plans for future travel. it's basically get in early, keep up to date.

do you have any other advice? Just sort of generally for people looking for updates?

Travel Josh Engstrom: Yeah. I think I really liked what you said before about reaching out to your local consulate or embassy. At the moment, it's kind of like you have to come up with a strategy, to get home and use every resource available to you.

So contact your, local embassy and consulate, reach out to Travel Josh and America Josh, because we've got a wealth of information on our pages for you to reference, get yourself in the know about, the situation on the ground when you do arrive. and start planning further and further in advance to save yourself hot heartbreak and such a, huge, big financial decision being burdened with that.

I realized that many people around the world have enough to worry about at the moment in terms of packing up their life and moving back home to Australia. so definitely getting the planning in and the preparation in, at least two months in advance is going to make sure that, you get home in the most cost effective quite possible.

America Josh: Alrighty. Thank you, Josh. We really appreciate your updates and all your knowledge. Thanks for joining.

Thanks. Thanks a lot, Josh, and hit us up. If you need any help, send us a message, email us, or chat us, on any of our social media pages. And thanks a lot, guys.

Joshua Engstrom

Joshua Engstrom

I now work on Madison Avenue, in the Air Experts team for Flight Centre. We consolidate, group rate and manage the heck out of any and every kind of flight you could possibly think of. We solve problems and send off happy and sad people. We humanize what has become a very transactional process. To get in touch with Josh and ask a question, feel free to contact him via his email [email protected]View Author posts

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