G’day mates, this is Corinne, and having just come back from my own travels to visit family in Australia, I have a few insider tips and tricks to share in order to make your travels go as smoothly as possible.
Things to think of ahead of arriving at the airport:
- Purchasing your Australian ETA visa – See the link here to do so.
- Make sure you have proof of your COVID-19 vaccination records
- Mandatory travel declaration form (completed less than seven days to departure)
- Negative COVID-19 nucleic acid amplification test taken 72 hours prior to departure or a rapid antigen test taken 48 hours prior to departure.
You can find more information on these requirements and updates as they change here.
Insider Tip: If you are finding it difficult to book a PCR test in your local area, most airports now have a testing site inside them. I would suggest that you prebook and make sure you are getting your test done at your 1st check-in location before boarding the plane for your trip.
Checking in for your flight:
You will need your passport, vaccination card, health declaration (less than seven days to departure) & negative PCR test.
Insider Tip: Most airports are still operating with minimal staff, which means that sometimes they are not operating the TSA pre-check or clear fast lanes. Allow yourself plenty of time to get through security. And note that check-in opens 4 hours prior to departure.
Arrival in Sydney, Australia:
Please note that there is now one extra form to complete on arrival. Aussies can complete ahead of time, but as of today, Americans cannot. This will be given to you by the airline staff on the plane. As per my note above, airports are still operating with minimal staff, it took me a full 2 hours to get through customs and immigration, then onto the bus over to the domestic terminal.
Insider Tip: Allow 3 hours for connecting flights from international arrival to be safe.
Checking in for domestic flights within Australia:
For domestic flights, you can still use self-check-in and print boarding passes and tags. This closes 1 hour prior to departure. The queue was long here too, so make sure to give yourself plenty of time.
Checking in for your International flight home to the USA:
You cannot pre-check in on the apps, and online you have to check in at a specific desk. Additionally, you cannot use the machines in the airport. They are not capable of reviewing your Covid testing guidelines. Basically, the agent needs to read the COVID rules for the country you are flying to and determine if your COVID test is valid and in the required date range. The agents are handling every international flight, not just the USA, so it takes time.
I needed my passport, vaccination card, negative PCR test, and an additional online form that you will scan to your phone and fill in online once you are at the airport. Please arrive 3 hours prior to departure for your international flights. These lines are LONG.
Insider Tip: Build in extra time to check in for air travel in Australia. Flights are full, and lots of people are checking in/moving at the same time.
Qantas – International lounges are open in Sydney.
Both Business and first-class lounges are open in Sydney. If you have status with American, you can get in there for free. They are well spaced out, very, very clean, and with great service, as always.
Flight back to the USA:
You still have the additional security check required for all flights to the USA, so head to the gate a little early. Qantas has gone environmentally friendly on everything for their in-flight service – Wooden toothbrushes etc. It’s super cool. Dinner/snacks were served in bags in the economy, which was also very cool and safe. If you are flying Premium Economy or Business Class, then meal service is as normal with plates and cutlery.
Insider Tip: You have to wear a face mask while flying – Including while sleeping. I would bring a couple if you want to change them out, and I love adding a few drops of lavender oil to mine.
Are you thinking of planning a trip Down Under? Reach out to us directly, and we would be more than happy to help you plan an amazing getaway.