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Travel & Flights Update: Limited Flight Availability

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 12th 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:

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

NEW Weekly Reports

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.

We'll record these and post them online with these weekly reports and they can hopefully answer some of the issues and concerns that you have, in a video!

So what are you waiting for?

Caps on arrivals in Australia extended

Current flight inbound passenger number restrictions extended to October 24th

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 (27th Aug – 10th 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 – mostly Biz and first are the only seats to purchase. After the 14th Sept, there are some decently priced Air NZ flights, but they are also selling out fast.

Travel agents can priority waitlist seats on planes, even when there are no seats to purchase. If you are a frequent flyer – this can help to clear you off the waitlist to a confirmed seat. Please let me know if you need urgent travel and can’t find any availability, I can help!

Hotel Quarantine

Australian Government 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.

Details of quarantine changes for international arrivals to NSW

We have been able to confirm that if customers purchased tickets before 11:59pm 12 July AEST but have since had to change their ticket they will still receive an invoice for charges on check out. This invoice will include information on how to apply for an exemption. Unfortunately, we can not give customers a clear answer to if this will be granted as the decision lies with the NSW Government.

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.


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)

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

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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