Travelling to Australia During COVID-19 (Discussion)

madrooster

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The Travelling to Australia During COVID-19 guide is available at the following link:


This thread is available for members who wish to discuss the content in the guide, have questions about content in the guide or anything related to travelling to Australia during the pandemic.
 
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Ric

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Airline Schedules/Reliability



If the airline you are looking at for the flight from the last port before Australia to Australia is not specified in the above lists, then that airline is currently NOT carrying passengers to Australia and is unlikely to carry passengers to Australia any time soon.

Avoid these airlines - you will be disappointed.

The airlines not carrying passengers to Australia include:

Air Canada
Air China
Air India (except Indian government organised repatriation flights)
Air Mauritius
Air Vanuatu
AirAsia X
Batik Air
Beijing Capital Airlines
British Airways
Cebu Pacific
Citilink
Donghai Airlines
EVA Air
Hainan Airlines
Hawaiian Airlines
Indonesia AirAsia
Jetstar Airways
Jetstar Asia Airways
Malindo Air
Philippine Airlines
Qantas Airways (except government organised repatriation flights)
Sichuan Airlines
South African Airways
Thai Airways
Tianjin Airlines
Vietnam Airlines
Virgin Australia

Flights that you might see as operating

Numerous airlines are currently operating cargo only flights to/from Australia. Some airlines are even operating more flights to/from Australia than they were pre-COVID-19.

In many cases, these airlines are operating these flights under the regular passenger service flight numbers as it is easier for an airline to fly a flight if it operates under an already approved flight plan.

The effect of this is you may see flights operating that look like passenger carrying flights on sites like FlightStats, FlightAware, FlightRadar24, airport websites or even Google. As such, it is easy to be fooled into thinking an airline is flying passengers to Australia.

These flights are most probably not carrying passengers.

@madrooster Thank you your postings. They are very informative and helpful.

I got a little worried when I saw you post above re PAL. I have found that they started selling seats from March 28, 2021 and I actually booked a flight on April 1, 2021 for Mrs Ric and myself at A$1100 one way per pax. I choose them as it is a direct flight from Mnl to Syd and PAL is not flying to Europe so less chance of mixing it up with transit passengers. I figure that if I travel through KUL or HKG, there's a lot more possibilities that I might be mixing in with transit passengers from Europe.

So in your expert opinion and with the resources that you have in your hands, how likely will this flight PR211 on April 1 going ahead or be cancelled? Thanks!!
 

madrooster

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So in your expert opinion and with the resources that you have in your hands, how likely will this flight PR211 on April 1 going ahead or be cancelled? Thanks!!

It's unlikely to run. PR are slow to file their cancellations. They haven't operated passenger services to Sydney for months and there's no signs that they will start either.
 

Myrna

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Thank you, madrooster, for this informative thread. Will be useful for us this year!
 

louie-m

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That's really helpful, thank you.

What do you reckon your chances are booked on an award business class ticket?
 
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Bobby1664

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Airline Schedules/Reliability

The airline that carries you from the port immediately before Australia to Australia is the airline that you need to scrutinise. The airline that carries you to an intermediate transit port is less important than the airline carrying you from the last port before Australia to Australia.

For example, you might have an itinerary of:

Frankfurt to Hong Kong on Lufthansa - not as important as the next flight
Hong Kong to Sydney on Cathay Pacific - this is the most important flight to scrutinise

Below is a list of airlines, broken up by various factors such as whether they fly frequently, are reliable, will refund etc. for the flight from the port immediately before Australia to Australia.

Airlines that operate to intermediate transit ports are not covered below. It is OK to fly an airline not listed below (eg. Lufthansa as per the above example) if it is to an intermediate transit port.

Melbourne will not be taking international arrivals until the end of March at the earliest. Melbourne is not in the lists below for this reason.

Airlines to look at

These airlines:

1. Fly regularly to Australia (defined as at least twice per week to Australia across all Australian ports)
2. Will refund your ticket back to your original form of payment without a refund penalty, if any flight on your ticket is cancelled

All Nippon Airways - flies to Sydney
American Airlines - flies to Sydney
Delta Airlines - flies to Sydney
Emirates - flies to Sydney, Brisbane, Perth
Etihad Airways - flies to Sydney
Japan Airlines - flies to Sydney
Qatar Airways - flies to Sydney, Brisbane, Perth, Adelaide
Singapore Airlines - flies to Sydney, Brisbane, Perth, Adelaide
SriLankan Airlines - flies to Sydney
United Airlines - flies to Sydney
XiamenAir - flies to Sydney

Note for Etihad Airways: Refundable without penalty only if booked via an Australia/USA/Canada based agency OR the ticket's first flight originates from Europe

Airlines to avoid

These airlines:

1. Fly a sporadic schedule to Australia (defined as less frequent than twice per week to Australia across all Australian ports)
2. Are unreliable due to tough government restrictions imposed on the airline
3. Will refund your ticket back to your original form of payment without a refund penalty, if any flight on your ticket is cancelled

Cathay Pacific - flies to Sydney (due to Hong Kong crew quarantine requirements)

-----

These airlines:

1. Fly a sporadic schedule to Australia (defined as less frequent than twice per week to Australia across all Australian ports)
2. Will refund your ticket back to your original form of payment without a refund penalty, if any flight on your ticket is cancelled

Asiana Airlines - flies to Sydney
China Airlines - flies to Sydney, Brisbane
China Eastern Airlines - flies to Sydney
China Southern Airlines - flies to Sydney
Korean Air - flies to Sydney
LATAM Airlines - flies to Sydney

-----

These airlines:

1. Fly regularly to Australia (defined as at least twice per week to Australia across all Australian ports)
2. Will refund your ticket back to your original form of payment without a refund penalty, if any flight on your ticket is cancelled, but only after 1 year has lapsed since you booked

Aircalin - flies to Sydney

-----

These airlines:

1. Fly regularly to Australia (defined as at least twice per week to Australia across all Australian ports)
2. Will refund your ticket back to your original form of payment if you are willing to pay the refund penalty and the fare purchased allows for refunds

Air New Zealand - flies to Brisbane, Sydney
Air Niugini - flies to Brisbane, Cairns
Fiji Airways - flies to Sydney
Garuda Indonesia - flies to Sydney, Perth

-----

These airlines:

1. Fly a sporadic schedule to Australia (defined as less frequent than twice per week to Australia across all Australian ports)
2. Will refund your ticket back to your original form of payment if you are willing to pay the refund penalty and the fare purchased allows for refunds

Malaysia Airlines - flies to Sydney
Nauru Airlines - flies to Brisbane

-----

If the airline you are looking at for the flight from the last port before Australia to Australia is not specified in the above lists, then that airline is currently NOT carrying passengers to Australia and is unlikely to carry passengers to Australia any time soon.

Avoid these airlines - you will be disappointed.

The airlines not carrying passengers to Australia include:

Air Canada
Air China
Air India (except Indian government organised repatriation flights)
Air Mauritius
Air Vanuatu
AirAsia X
Batik Air
Beijing Capital Airlines
British Airways
Cebu Pacific
Citilink
Donghai Airlines
EVA Air
Hainan Airlines
Hawaiian Airlines
Indonesia AirAsia
Jetstar Airways
Jetstar Asia Airways
Malindo Air
Philippine Airlines
Qantas Airways (except government organised repatriation flights)
Sichuan Airlines
South African Airways
Thai Airways
Tianjin Airlines
Vietnam Airlines
Virgin Australia

Flights that you might see as operating

Numerous airlines are currently operating cargo only flights to/from Australia. Some airlines are even operating more flights to/from Australia than they were pre-COVID-19.

In many cases, these airlines are operating these flights under the regular passenger service flight numbers as it is easier for an airline to fly a flight if it operates under an already approved flight plan.

The effect of this is you may see flights operating that look like passenger carrying flights on sites like FlightStats, FlightAware, FlightRadar24, airport websites or even Google. As such, it is easy to be fooled into thinking an airline is flying passengers to Australia.

These flights are most probably not carrying passengers.
Hi Madrooster,

Malindo are advertising flights from KL to Perth starting again in April, have you heard anything about this?? They are advertised as the last leg o codeshare flights with both Qatar and Turkish airlines from Europe,

thanks
 

madrooster

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That's really helpful, thank you.

What do you reckon your chances are booked on an award business class ticket?

Whilst I have seen the odd business class award seat, I am not sure where they sit in the bumping ladder due to a lack of data points.

Hi Madrooster,

Malindo are advertising flights from KL to Perth starting again in April, have you heard anything about this?? They are advertised as the last leg o codeshare flights with both Qatar and Turkish airlines from Europe,

thanks

Malindo have barely operated to PER since March 2020.

There's been the odd OD155 flight - see here: OD155 (MXD155) Malindo Air Flight Tracking and History - FlightAware

OD151 however hasn't operated since March 2020.

I doubt they will operate regularly with the WA arrivals cap still in reduced mode. If they do there will be the odd one per month maybe at best.
 
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That's really helpful, thank you.

What do you reckon your chances are booked on an award business class ticket?

i came back to Oz from the US on an award ticket on United and had no issue but I only booked 3 days in advance and it’s cost 200k points. However think US flights are different from other locations as it’s not difficult to get a flight if you have money or points.
 

madrooster

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i came back to Oz from the US on an award ticket on United and had no issue but I only booked 3 days in advance and it’s cost 200k points. However think US flights are different from other locations as it’s not difficult to get a flight if you have money or points.

That would be one of those any time awards which books as full business. For all intents it'd be no different to a commercial ticket. Essentially your points are used up kind of like Qantas' points plus pay, hence the expense.
 

Maisy33

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Thanks for sharing some great information Madrooster.
Fingers crossed my son can get home. He’s LAX to PER with SQ in June.
 
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That would be one of those any time awards which books as full business. For all intents it'd be no different to a commercial ticket. Essentially your points are used up kind of like Qantas' points plus pay, hence the expense.

Yes, that was the only redemption offered. Even for a seat in economy it was the same amount of points.
 

yld200

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Thanks for a great thread @madrooster - lots of very useful information there.

As an Aussie in the UK, I have some first hand experience in trying to get my hands on flights back home. I've pretty much been monitoring flights from the UK back to Australia since January on a daily basis and recently managed to book for 3 adults on SQ for a flight in March for around $2,500 /pax.

Its a genuinely frustrating experience to be honest.

From my experience when looking from the UK, at SQ are the only reasonably priced option when looking at economy at $2,500 /pax. For QR, you are looking at around $4,000 /pax in Y. I had almost resigned myself to paying for QR flights until one morning I could see economy availability on 2 dates in March so immediately jumped on it. I could never find more than one seat on EK in Y and nothing on EY.

I was searching for flights flying into all major cities and found that Adelaide would be the only city that might have a 'cheap' fare appear for travel within a week or two. SQ barely had any Sydney flights despite having the highest passenger capacity.

Another thing I noticed a few weeks back, was that occasionally IB or BA would have QR codeshare flights available at cheaper rates compare to QR.
 

madrooster

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recently managed to book for 3 adults on SQ for a flight in March for around $2,500 /pax.

What flight numbers are you booked on and on what date? Singapore has transit restrictions for UK-originating passengers and you must be on certain flight numbers or you will get booted off closer to the departure date.

You can get premium economy for that $4k...
 

yld200

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What flight numbers are you booked on and on what date? Singapore has transit restrictions for UK-originating passengers and you must be on certain flight numbers or you will get booted off closer to the departure date.

You can get premium economy for that $4k...
SQ317 25/3 + SQ217 26/3

Yes I did see some premium economy on SQ for $4k... Have already read some online reports about SQ flights from the UK with only 30 pax in Y and J & Y+ full... Y might be more comfortable if you get a row to yourself.
 

lurker

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SQ317 25/3 + SQ217 26/3

I really hope I'm wrong... but you may need to choose the SQ flights with the ~90 min layover travelling from UK --> AU on SQ (except for ADL, where it's longer).

My understanding is that it has to be the SQ317 + SQ 217 service that has a ~90 min layover for the "same plane" service. For your dates, the layover is just over three hours. This is implied from the website, and not stated directly:

Singapore Airlines has received approval to carry passengers from London Heathrow Airport to Adelaide, Sydney, Perth or Auckland via Singapore. These transfer passengers will remain in the aircraft while in Singapore before continuing on to either Australia or New Zealand. Transfer and non-transfer passengers will be seated separately, and customers are required to stay in their designated seating zone throughout the flight. The expected ground time in Singapore is about 90 minutes, except for flights to Adelaide where the layover in Singapore will be 3 hours and 35 minutes. During this time, customers may approach our crew if they require refreshments. Please note that passengers are not allowed to change their seat during this time to comply with regulatory requirements. Due to regulatory requirements for entry into New Zealand and Australia, customers must also have taken a Covid-19 PCR test within 72 hours prior to the scheduled departure time of their flight and received a negative test result to be accepted for boarding. [1]

(It's also further complicated because you've booked to MEL based on those flight numbers, and MEL isn't currently approved, so I'll use SYD for the examples below to illustrate the point).

They do let you stay on board the plane for the Adelaide service which is 3hrs 35 mins, but the only flight that matches that timing for March is once per week, departing Sunday from the UK (SQ 321 + SQ 279). All other flights the connection time is too long and it wouldn't be allowed under Singapore transit rules for people that have been in the UK 14 days prior to travel.

To test this hypothesis, I picked some recent LHR-SIN-SYD flights:

* Sunday (21 Feb): the same plane 9V-SMR flies all the way through from London to Sydney[2].
* Thursday (18 Feb): the plane 9V-SMS does not fly through to Sydney (it went to Perth) [3].

That does seem to suggest that you need the ~90 minute layover option (Tue/Sat/Sun flight if flying to SYD, at this point in time, based on the schedule, but more generally a 90min connection) to transit Singapore. I'd suggest giving SQ a call and trying to get to the bottom of this. I wouldn't be surprised the same plane service only operates on certain days due to operational requirements and they aren't advertising those days in case they change their schedule.

I hope I'm wrong, but if I'm not, better to know now (and hopefully save some other readers some pain). Good luck!

[1] https://www.singaporeair.com/en_UK/sg/media-centre/news-alert/?id=kiwkdrrv
[2] Live Flight Tracker - Real-Time Flight Tracker Map | Flightradar24
[3] Live Flight Tracker - Real-Time Flight Tracker Map | Flightradar24

(edit: used the wrong flight numbers originally)
 
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yld200

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@lurker Thanks for the additional information. I wasn't totally across the requirements but this is helpful and back to the phone I go.

I really hope I'm wrong... but you may need to choose the SQ flights with the ~90 min layover travelling from UK --> AU on SQ (except for ADL, where it's longer).

My understanding is that it has to be the SQ317 + SQ 217 service that has a ~90 min layover for the "same plane" service. For your dates, the layover is just over three hours. This is implied from the website, and not stated directly:
At the moment, the ticket is showing a 90 minute transit. 7:20 arrival and 9:20 departure so it meets the 90 minute layover criteria. Originally the flight had the 3+ hour layover but changed a few days after I had booked it.

(It's also further complicated because you've booked to MEL based on those flight numbers, and MEL isn't currently approved, so I'll use SYD for the examples below to illustrate the point).

Yes that is a further complication, is that potentially because Melbourne isn't accepting international flights due to Dan's latest changes from the recent lock-down with no restart date (Another massive frustration). I could rant here but it's not the place for it.

We're just stuck and want to get home. We have an 11 week old and have just given notice to move out of our apartment so don't really want to end up in a worse situation.
 

lurker

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@yld200 Ah fantastic news! I must have been looking at 25 Feb for MEL. Phew!

I also see a 90 min layover in EF as well (and well done on getting those tickets!)

SQ 317 0 LHR SIN 359 Daily Z0 C0 J0 U0 D0 S0 T0 P0 L0 R0 Y0 B0 E0 M0 H0 W0 Q0 N0 V0 G0 K0
25/03/21 10:55 26/03/21 7:50 91% / 16m
SQ 217 0 SIN MEL 359 Su,W,F Z0 C0 J0 U0 D0 S0 T0 P0 L0 R0 Y0 B0 E0 M0 H0 W0 Q0 N0 V0 G0 K0
26/03/21 9:20 26/03/21 19:45 100% / 4m

That said as @madrooster also points out, buyer beware for anyone buying SQ tickets UK-AU, to make sure choose a flight with the approved UK-AU "same plane" connection for transit in SIN. From what I can tell, tickets that violate that policy are still being sold (which might work for edge cases like those tranisiting the UK?).
 
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