Australia may re-open to international travel July 1. At least that’s what the CEO of Qantas is saying, and Qantas has loaded international flights for sale as of that date. Qantas had previously killed its full international schedule through the end of September.
Seeing this news I immediately went to look for award seats, and found what I needed to visit my family that lives in the Sydney suburbs and also outside of Brisbane. Two of my cousins are having new babies in the next several weeks. And I didn’t get to see them at all in 2020.
- July and August Qantas business class award space is pretty good, San Francisco – Sydney and Los Angeles – Brisbane, when searching for 3 passengers (award space is better looking for just two).
- American Airlines websavers on the Los Angeles – Sydney flights are somewhat available (for as little as 71,500 AAdvantage miles per person) when adding a connection beyond Los Angeles.
Now it’s not clear what opening July 1 would even mean.
- Australians might be permitted to travel internationally but that doesn’t mean foreigners will be permitted.
- If foreign visitors are allowed, we don’t know under what conditions – negative test? vaccination (there’s still scant data on the extent vaccination prevents spread versus symptomatic Covid)?
- And if vaccinations are required, will that apply universally? Would that requirement prevent travel by a family like mine with a two year old? (Vaccine dosage hasn’t even started to be tested in young children.)
Award travel to Australia has been tough throughout the pandemic. Qantas hasn’t been publishing schedules, taking a lot of inventory out of the market. Australia has imposed limits on daily arrivals into their international airports, based on quarantine capacity. Airlines haven’t known whether they’d be allowed to fly, or whether the flights they have scheduled in the future will really operate, so even as award space on many airlines to many destinations has been easy to come by premium cabin awards to Australia have been scarce.
It’s probably safer to book for August or later in case a July 1 date slips. I made my plans fully knowing that they’re tentative, subject to the country actually opening and being able to comply with whatever conditions they’ve said. But award travel is flexible. I can cancel without penalty. Still, having something on the books to Australia makes me the most hopeful I’ve been in six months.
Note that the American Airlines website will sometimes show phantom space, or error our, when booking Qantas space – and it will fail to show some space that’s available. I had to make my booking by phone. American no longer charges telephone booking fees for awards – this is no longer limited to Executive Platinum members.