Qantas Says Australian Borders To Re-Open In December

Qantas announced plans for the re-start of its international route network, beginning on December. That planned seemed crazy with the country facing an upswing in Covid-19 cases – more than they’ve seen at any point in the pandemic – and what once seemed like an idyllic refuge from the global pandemic now seems like a dystopian science fiction film.

Starting September 13, new freedoms will be permitted for fully vaccinated households in local government areas of concern in the Australian state of New South Wales:

households with all adults vaccinated will be able to gather outdoors for recreation (including picnics) within the existing rules (for one hour only, outside curfew hours and within 5km of home). This is in addition to the one hour allowed for exercise.

So it’s hard to imagine the other side of this, but the airline says it expects the country’s borders to begin opening in December. They’re certainly in good touch with government leaders.

  • This is subject to continued progress on vaccinations in the country, hitting 80% vaccinations. However current speed of vaccinations could slow as higher thresholds are hit.

  • And subject to changes in the course of the virus, which hasn’t been fully predictable during the pandemic.

Borders would open slowly, initially focused on “low risk” countries including “Singapore, the US, Japan, the UK, Canada and Fiji.” (The U.S. and U.K. are included based on vaccination rates, and of course levels of spread are likely to be very different in December than they are now, even if there’s a seasonal winter effect.)

While I keep booking award travel to Australia in hopes of visiting family whenever saver award space opens up – and I’ve had to cancel many bookings – I do not actually expect to be welcomed in mid-December. Notably though this is peak travel season, so there should be a push to open if possible in order to avoid greater losses. And more and more Australians are frustrated with the lockdowns they’re enduring, a sentiment only expected to grow as they continue.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

More articles by Gary Leff »


  1. Qantas isn’t the final authority on border controls though – the Commonwealth government is. So I wouldn’t listen to Qantas necessarily

  2. Qantas looking for another round of interest-free loans?

    Yeah nah. Good luck with that.

  3. As an American dual citizen living in Sydney I hope the world knows that all citizens and permanent residents have been prisoners in this country since March 2020. No one in but movie and sports stars; and those able to pay vast sums of money for the privilege of quarantine in a private house under police guard while the less fortunate spend two weeks quarantined in hotels. In many cases that means no opening windows, and no outside time ar all. We have been in complete lockdown in Greater Sydney for 6 weeks; three more weeks added this weekend. I am double vaxed, as are a LOT of people. We were promised special conditions as of today by the heads of Gov in NSW. Those privileges are 2 hours outdoors daily instead of the one hour for everyone else. But you can’t go more than 3 miles from home, have to wear a face mask as soon as you walk out your door; can’t go out between 9 to 5 and violate curfew. I am losing my mind; as are a lot of us “imports”. There is a very constant stream of foreign born Nationals leaving permanently. The amateur politics and ridiculous posturing of state leaders, along with. A Boob of a Prime Minister; has made it feel like North Korea here the last 18 months. Imagine a 1st world country governed by uneducated monkeys pumped full of power. People don’t believe us when we tell family and friends that not even death or parents final illness get you a pass out of here. We are all sure it violates human rights in the UN; but since we have all discovered that this country, which used to be a laid back haven from the world actually does jot have a Bill of Rights: we are trapped. A spoof Qantas ad making the rounds says; “We are flying again by Christmas; buy a ticket and maybe they will let you out of the country”. I doubt it.

  4. Australia is letting people go from solitary to parole. Wouldn’t have been abnormal when Van Diemen’s Land was founded.

  5. Folk with a genuine interest in matters travel / frequent flyer might be prudent in sourcing their information from Australian-based frequent traveller news / blogs /websites. These include Executive Traveller and Point Hacks.

    For example, the putative schedule for QF’s return to international travel is presented herein:

    But please be warned – you’ll find the Executive Traveller is run by a professional journalist with internal sources – the comments are moderated to keep discussion on topic – hate speech and all manner of nasties aren’t tolerated. This may came as a shock if you are used to the misinformed rants of @ Gary Leff on matters Australian and the odious commentary that in turn appears to elicit, apparently under the guise of freedom of speech unfettered by any sense of responsibility or decency.

    @ Gary Leff

    Immediately you adopt a misleading title for your article. No, absolutely not – QF does not decide when Australian border rules change.

    Incidentally, you are clearly very confused about our vaccination rates. The rates quoted by the federal government are for the “eligible” population (i.e. over 16 year olds) – thereby not the total population.

    That means that the Australian vaccination rate is higher than it would be if expressed against total population.

    It also means that the various targets are lower than you might otherwise realise.

    This then means that the government-quoted targets are unlikely to deliver the level of control over the virus that will enable serious reduction in other measures.

    The curious issue is whether the government will adjust the way it quotes these vaccination rates as the vaccination program is (now) approved for the 12 to 16 year old cohort.

    Gary, it’s simple stuff like flubbing your reporting of Australian vaccination rates which sustain the view that you have no real grasp on what you are writing about. You have no idea.

  6. @platy – I’ve published this exact same schedule for Qantas flights, we all got it from the same place… Qantas

    And I do not claim that Qantas decides when borders are opening, the airline is making statements about when they expect it to happen.

    And no I am not confused about vaccination rates. I’m suggesting that the targets become tough to hit as you approach higher rates, because penetration into communities can be difficult.

  7. With Australia’s two most populous cities (Sydney & Melbourne) as well as their capital (Canberra) in “lockdowns”, Qantas is likely hemorrhaging cash (particularly with cancellations leading to increasing refunds they may be struggling to repay). IMO questions about their solvency plans are valid!

    It is illegal under Australian consumer law to sell something which you know can’t deliver. Qantas needs to sell future tickets to increase cash flow, there really isn’t much left they can sell or mortgage off (Jetstar being the remaining obvious candidate).

    So (stuck between a rock and a hard place) they can’t sell these future tickets, unless they “believe” they will be able to honor them… hence glorious announcements about how all of these flights are going to start happening, as if by some miracle.

  8. @ Glutton

    IME and based on reports of others QF will take weeks, if not months to refund. Yep – certainly looks and smells like a cash flow gambit. Amazing that the relevant government authority (ACCC) doesn’t scrutinise more fully.

    Domestic flights were rocking for those months pre-NSW lock down, including many new domestic routes.

    The international division was already a poor performer pre-COVID.

    The cash cow is the frequent flyer division. They could mortgage or sell that off (like AA) – but likely wouldn’t want to touch the golden child. They have effective control of a quasi currency (QFF points) without any financial regulation (not even the applying to crypto) 😉

    Alan Joyce is always quick to try to manipulate the system.

    The so-called 70%-80% vaccination targets will be insufficient to open up the country significantly – the Doherty Report itself states this clearly, whatever spin the federal government attempt. Meanwhile NSW halved their international intake yesterday.

    PS. My posts now apparently being “moderated” into the trash bin by the “thought leader”. Ironic that rampant toxic racism is permitted, but not a challenge to the inaccuracies of the articles.

  9. Qantas isn’t the final authority on border controls though – the Commonwealth government is. So I wouldn’t listen to Qantas necessarily

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *