A tangle of changing health requirements has made air travel even more complicated, prompting Australian airports and airlines to join forces to help passengers navigate the confusion.
The progressive opening of Australia’s internal borders means passengers are facing travel between destinations with differing vaccination rates and requirements.
To test or not to test? Do you need a permit? Are there quarantine requirements?
Eventually, the answers to those sorts of questions will be “no” but for now industry players have agreed to a set of protocols aimed at helping passengers safely navigate the differing requirements.
The aim is to offset the lack of harmonization as states and territories follow their individual roadmaps out of lockdown.
“The broader issue is the lack of consistency,’’ Airlines for Australia and New Zealand CEO Alison Roberts told Airlineratngs. “And what we’re trying to do is come up with an approach that enables people to travel safely.”
Roberts said the different vaccination rates and levels of community transmission meant that requirements would phase in and out at different times in different parts of the country.
She said the industry was encouraging governments to align their requirements as much as possible to avoid a patchwork of rules nationwide that was hard for customers to follow.
“We’re just trying come up with the system that provides passengers with confidence that they know what steps to take and what to assure themselves about before they make the booking and head out of the door,’’ she said.
The industry protocols will see links to the latest information for travel in each state placed on airline and airport websites.
Prior to travel, customers may be sent reminders (via email and SMS) of travel and destination entry requirements, including any permits required.
At online check-in, customers will be asked to declare eligibility to travel and may be asked to sign in using a QR code and confirm their vaccination status.
They will also be asked at the departing airport to confirm that they comply with government travel requirements, including COVID-19 vaccination, where applicable, in a similar way to disclosures that currently exist for dangerous goods in luggage.
They may also be asked to sign in using QR codes to access lounges and may also be asked to show proof of vaccination where applicable.
And they should have their documentation ready to show authorized officers.
A4ANZ said other COVID-safe measures, including mandatory mask-wearing in terminals and onboard, would remain in place nationwide but may be relaxed in future, especially as national vaccination rates rise.
The good news is that A4ANZ believes the imposts are temporary and that COVID safety measures such as mask-wearing may also be relaxed as vaccination rates rise.
“If you look at the pace at which Australia’s vaccination uptake is rocketing along, it’s pretty well up there with best in the world,’’ Roberts said. “So what we would see is that a lot of these are interim measures.”
Here are five things you can do to prepare for your next trip:
Check the eligibility requirements for travel from where you are leaving and at your
destination, to make sure you are eligible to travel, including any permits required
Check-in online if you can, and complete the declaration regarding your eligibility to travel
Bring a mask with you to wear at the airport and on the plane
Complete the QR check-in at the airport where required
Have all your documents ready to show authorized officers when you arrive at your
destination, if requested