Why I wouldn’t get too excited about Qantas’ plan to restart flights in July
This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.
Australia has been among the most aggressive countries when it comes to fighting COVID-19, acting swiftly to close international borders and even restrict domestic travel.
While the nation’s approach has made it all but impossible for foreigners to enter, and even for many citizens to easily return, Australia has so far seen fewer than 1,000 COVID-19-related deaths — a fraction of the number of Americans who perish due to related complications every single day.
Many Australian businesses haven’t fared as well. On the airline front, Qantas has seen a tremendous impact, leading the airline to accelerate its Boeing 747 retirements, and Virgin Australia has undergone a massive restructuring and sale to the investment firm Bain Capital.
Given Australia’s especially cautious approach, it may come as a bit of a surprise to see that Qantas has accelerated its relaunch of several key international flights. As Executive Traveller reports, the carrier is even planning a return to the U.S. on July 1, 2021.
As of now, the carrier is selling nonstop flights to the following U.S. airports for travel beginning July 1:
- Dallas (Sydney)
- Los Angeles (Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney)
- San Francisco (Sydney)
While the first inclination may be to assume that the airline has concluded that international travel to and from Australia will be widely accessible beginning this July, I’m far less optimistic.
Recently, a new COVID-19 variant has led to expanded border closures and national lockdowns, which have the potential to persist for at least several months. And while vaccinations have begun, it’s not yet clear whether they entirely eliminate the risk of spreading the disease, or how effective they are against new strains.
Not to mention that July is the start of winter in the southern hemisphere, which could lead to locals and visitors spending more time indoors, where the virus is far more likely to spread. It seems like an odd time of year to “test the waters” by opening the floodgates to international travel.
So, how can we explain this accelerated timeline? This might be excessively pessimistic, but airlines do need to sell tickets in order to stay in business. It’s unclear what the carrier’s exact motives are, but by adding flights for sale, Qantas can lock in funds from travelers hoping to visit Australia this summer, with the airline later issuing travel credits or refunds if it’s forced to delay a flight’s start date.
Similarly, cruise lines have continuously listed sailing dates that seem a bit detached from reality — Carnival is selling cruises departing from its Miami port for this March, for example:
Personally, I’m not expecting to be able to visit Australia on July 1. It’d certainly be a nice surprise, but it seems unrealistic at this point.
For now, I’d avoid tying up any cash on a summer 2021 booking. If you’re hoping to travel then, consider redeeming your miles, instead. Qantas partner American Airlines is offering extra flexibility on canceled award tickets, for example — if you have to cancel your trip, you’ll be able to get your miles back without a fee.
Featured photo by Scott Barbour/Getty Images.
Welcome to The Points Guy!
Earn 50,000 bonus miles and 5,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $2,000 in purchases on your new card in your first three months of card membership. Plus, earn up to $100 back in statement credits for eligible purchases at U.S. restaurants with your card within the first 3 months of membership.
With Status Boost™, earn 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, up to two times per year getting you closer to Medallion Status. Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels, 2X Miles at restaurants and at U.S. supermarkets and earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases. Terms Apply.
- Earn 50,000 bonus miles and 5,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $2,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months.
- Plus, earn up to $100 back in statement credits for eligible purchases at US restaurants with your card within the first 3 months of membership.
- Accelerate your path to Medallion Status, with Status Boost®. Plus, in 2021 you can earn even more bonus Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) to help you reach Medallion Status.
- Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels.
- Earn 2X Miles at restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery and at U.S. supermarkets.
- Earn 1X Miles on all other eligible purchases.
- Receive a Domestic Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate each year upon renewal of your Card. *Payment of the government imposed taxes and fees of no more than $75 for roundtrip domestic flights (for itineraries with up to four flight segments) is required. Baggage charges and other restrictions apply. See terms and conditions for details.
- Enjoy your first checked bag free on Delta flights.
- Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®.
- Enjoy an exclusive rate of $39 per person per visit to enter the Delta Sky Club® for you and up to two guests when traveling on a Delta flight.
- No Foreign Transaction Fees.
- $250 Annual Fee.
- Terms Apply.
- See Rates & Fees