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Travel & Flights Update: Two weeks of very limited availability

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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. This is the update for the week of the 29nd of July, 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.

Caps on arrivals in Australia

Here's a quick summary of international passenger caps as they stand for arrivals into Australia for period 13 July – 8 August which will then be reviewed again.

International flight caps ✈️ for the period: 13 July - 8 August 2020.

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!

Breaking: Queensland imposes new restrictions for people coming to the state from SYD

Annastacia Palaszczuk, the Queensland Premier, has held a press conference where she announced the Queensland Government is declaring all of Greater Sydney a Covid19 Hotspot as of 1am Saturday 1st August.

We are still waiting for official information but at this time she has confirmed no residents of Greater Sydney will be allowed entry into Queensland from 1am Saturday 1st August. A list of postcodes impacted can be found here –

She also confirmed any Queensland residents who are currently in Greater Sydney and don't return to Queensland before 1am on Saturday 1st August will be required to quarantine for 14 days in an Government approved hotel at their own expense.

This new development will greatly affect those who chose to quarantine in SYD on their way back to QLD from OS – another worrying development.  

Availability of flights over the next two weeks (1-14 Aug)

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. 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!

Melbourne Flights diverted for the next two weeks

The Victorian govt. has diverted all inbound international flights away from MEL at this point up to the 15th Aug, people in transit now and over that course will be affected. It is expected with current COVID numbers climbing in the state that the embargo will be extended further than the current 15th Aug.

Hotel Quarantine

NSW/QLD/SA/WA 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

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 from the 8th of September, this is a good sign that travel volume is expected to rise.

Daily service from San Francisco to Sydney through July/August – still have not had any problems with these flights. United have just posted their upcoming routes for August, 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. Pricing is good, and looks like there’s plenty of availability – please reach out to me if you’ve flown them in the last week and what your feedback is on their service!

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.

Air New Zealand (NZ)

Still operating services from NYC – SYD//BNE/ADL (via AKL) 2-3 times weekly

Singapore Airlines (SQ)

Changi Airport is going to open its airport soon to non-Singapore Nationals, this could also be a great option moving forward for non-Sydney residents who don’t want to do the Sydney quarantine Flights start from 17th July (i.e.ADL/PER/BNE residents) again

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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