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Why I wouldn't get too excited about Qantas' plan to restart flights in July

Jan. 04, 2021
3 min read
Why I wouldn't get too excited about Qantas' plan to restart flights in July
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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.

Qantas moved up its 747 retirement during the pandemic. Photo by Emily McNutt/The Points Guy.

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.

Qantas is currently selling flights to the U.S. beginning July 1, 2021. Screenshot courtesy of Qantas.

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.

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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:

Screenshot courtesy of Carnival.

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 image by Getty Images
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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  • Excellent welcome offer worth 75,000 miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months.
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  • 10,000 bonus miles (worth $100 toward travel) each account anniversary.

Cons

  • The $395 annual fee might be expensive for some, but this card’s benefits provide much more value than that.
  • If you don’t travel frequently, this might not be the best card for you.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
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  • Use your Venture X miles to easily cover travel expenses, including flights, hotels, rental cars and more—you can even transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
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  • Earn 10 miles per dollar when you book on Turo, the world's largest car sharing marketplace, through May 16, 2023
Best card for premium perks while traveling
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

10XEarn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
5X5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel.
2X2 Miles per dollar on every purchase, every day
  • Intro Offer
    Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel

    75,000 bonus miles
  • Annual Fee

    $395
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    740-850
    Excellent

Why We Chose It

The Capital One Venture X card is one of the best all-round travel credit cards ever launched. Not only is it offering a tremendous welcome bonus, but cardholders can earn tons of miles on everyday spending and receive a 10,000-mile anniversary bonus to boot. Its annual fee is $395, but cardholders can count on up to $300 in statement credits toward travel booked through Capital One Travel each year and other valuable benefits like access to Priority Pass lounges and Capital One’s own growing family of airport lounges.

Pros

  • Excellent welcome offer worth 75,000 miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months.
  • Up to $300 in annual travel statement credits toward bookings make through Capital One Travel.
  • 10,000 bonus miles (worth $100 toward travel) each account anniversary.

Cons

  • The $395 annual fee might be expensive for some, but this card’s benefits provide much more value than that.
  • If you don’t travel frequently, this might not be the best card for you.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on all other purchases
  • Unlimited complimentary access for you and two guests to 1,400+ lounges, including Capital One Lounges and our Partner Lounge Network
  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Use your Venture X miles to easily cover travel expenses, including flights, hotels, rental cars and more—you can even transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
  • Named editors' choice for "Best New Credit Card of 2021" by The Points Guy
  • Earn 10 miles per dollar when you book on Turo, the world's largest car sharing marketplace, through May 16, 2023