This article contains an updated summary of the most important coronavirus news that is relevant to Australian frequent flyers as of Friday, 3 April 2020. It specifically covers the implications of COVID-19 in terms of travel and loyalty programs. For the latest health advice, we recommend checking Australian government updates and the latest World Health Organization advice.
This article was last updated at 8am (AEDT) on 3 April 2020.
Latest Smartraveller advice
A good place to get travel advice updates from the Australian government is the Smartraveller website.
The Smartraveller advice from 26 March continues to remain in effect:
On 24 March the Prime Minister announced a ban on all overseas travel, with few exceptions.
This is on top of our standing advice from 18 March to not travel overseas at this time.
While there are still commercial options available to return to Australia, take them.
Hard closure of WA border from Sunday night
The state of Western Australia will close its border to everyone, including residents, from midnight on Sunday. Those wishing to return to WA are being told to do so immediately. There will be limited exceptions, including for healthcare, emergency and specialised workers, government and judicial services, and FIFO workers.
NT arrivals to pay $2,500 for mandatory hotel quarantine
People arriving in the Northern Territory after midnight tonight will be forced to pay for their mandatory 14-day quarantine in hotels. This is expected to cost around $2,500 per person. This will include those that have already undergone a 14-day quarantine period in another Australian state.
Qantas reaches Project Sunrise deal with pilots
Qantas pilots have agreed to operate Qantas’ “Project Sunrise” flights, which will operate non-stop from Sydney to London and New York as soon as 2023.
More airline status extensions
More airlines have announced elite status extensions to support members during the COVID-19 shutdown. Singapore Airlines announced on Wednesday that it will extend KrisFlyer and PPS Club members’ elite status by 1 year.
Japan Airlines Mileage Bank and Turkish Airlines Miles&Smiles have also revealed status extensions.
Velocity Frequent Flyer emails members about status extensions with incorrect dates
Virgin Australia has emailed its Velocity members on Wednesday to inform them that they would receive a 12-month status extension, as promised. However, the emails all contained the wrong dates and members were told that their status would be extended until the original expiry date. Needless to say, it was an error and Velocity members can expect a full 12 months of extra status.
Thai Airways extends mileage validity
Thai Airways Royal Orchid Plus miles that were due to expire on 31 March or 30 June 2020 will be extended until 30 September 2020.
Thai Airways miles normally work on a fixed 3-year expiry system. Hopefully more airlines that work on a similar system will make similar extensions, as redeeming miles as quite difficult at the moment.
Qantas, Virgin axe in-flight meals
Virgin Australia has removed the complimentary in-flight snacks and drinks from all domestic flights, replacing them with complimentary water and buy-on-board food in Economy class. Business class meals will still be served.
Meanwhile, Qantas is ditching in-flight meals and drinks on domestic flights and replacing them with snacks and a bottle of water.
British Airways suspending flights to Sydney
British Airways will suspend flying to Sydney later this month. Singapore and Hong Kong will also be temporarily removed from the BA schedule. The last Sydney-Singapore-London flight for the time being will depart on 8 April 2020.
Qantas has already suspended all international flights, including to London.
Emirates to slowly resume flights from 6 April
Emirates and Etihad Airways were forced to suspend all flights last week after the United Arab Emirates government banned passenger flights. This two-week ban is set to be lifted next Monday, but Emirates intends to resume services only with a limited number of flights to destinations in Europe. This is, as everything these days, subject to change.
Melbourne Airport to give away free parking until June
For anyone that still has to travel to the airport, Melbourne Airport will not charge for parking until 30 June 2020.
S7 Airlines offers members 100 miles per day to stay at home
S7 Priority, the frequent flyer program of Oneworld’s S7 Airlines, is offering members 100 miles for every day they stay at home during the month of April. Members can earn the miles each day by clicking a button on the S7 website that confirms they are home.
Global carbon emissions have been greatly reduced
According to a new study, Australia’s carbon emissions from air travel could be cut in half this year as flights remain grounded. It follows a similar trend in the rest of the world. Small mercies, perhaps, but that could be one positive to come from this terrible situation.
Australian Frequent Flyer has set up a new forum for news & discussion about COVID-19: Coronavirus (COVID-19) Discussion