With each country having its own restrictions, knowing where you can and can’t travel and how to do so has become a bit of a minefield. Furthermore, regulations can change on a daily basis, so if you’re looking to travel to Sydney from the USA at the moment, what can you do?
At the time of writing this article, current travel from the US to Australia is not allowed. This is a regulation from Australia and their government, not the US. Currently, there is a travel ban for anyone who is non-resident and not an Australian citizen entering the country. There are certain cases where exceptions will be considered, but these are pretty limited. Of course, this is due to the fact that there are still active cases of COVID-19 in both Australia and the US. If an exemption is approved, a passenger has to show evidence that they have a negative PCR test when they check-in. It must have been carried out within 72 hours or less of the flight. Without this, passengers will not be granted boarding privileges. If you are approved for travel from the US to Sydney, you will have to wear a mask during the flight.
Stop in New Zealand
There is one possible way around the travel ban, as Australia has recently decided that there is no need for quarantine free travel between themselves and New Zealand. However, all other travel documentation and the test must be in place. For example, suppose a passenger has spent 14 days within New Zealand. In that case, they can provide a valid Australian visa and complete a travel declaration before departure, at least 72 hours before, cross from New Zealand to Australia. But, again, a negative PCR test is required in all cases.
Just Passing Through?
Currently, a foreign national wishing to transition through Australia as a layover will not require travel restrictions, provided their connecting flight takes place within 72 hours of arrival. However, they do follow any quarantine requirements in place, which currently means staying inappropriate hotel accommodation and paying for such. Passengers will be required to remain in the accommodation and are not free to leave the hotel or venture out into the area. The only time they may travel is to leave the airport to get to the hotel and the hotel to get back to the airport for their connecting flight. Spending any longer than 72 hours does not count as transitioning, and therefore exemption has to be applied for and is likely to be refused.
If your travel exemption is approved and you are allowed to fly into Sydney from the US, you must quarantine. This only ceases to be a requirement if you have already spent 14 days in New Zealand and are on a quarantine free flight. You will be quarantined for 14 days in a designated facility, usually a local hotel close to the airport. You will be taken to your quarantine location once your customs, immigration and enhanced health cheques have taken place at the airport. As an international traveller, you will be charged for your accommodation cost, and the quarantine period will be 14 days. During that time, you will not be allowed to leave your hotel room and will have meals delivered to your door in a contactless way. You will be retested before you leave quarantine after 14 days. The cost of quarantine will vary from state to state, so you need to check what this will be before you fly.
United Airlines has a daily flight from Sydney to San Francisco and from Sydney to Los Angeles. Delta airlines have a flight from Sydney to Los Angeles 6 times a week and American Airlines four times a week. Currently, Australia is happier for travellers to leave rather than enter their country. If you are approved to fly from the US to Australia, you may find a commercial airline operating, but there will be restrictions. Generally, you will be required to wear a mask for the duration of the flight. If you are concerned about travelling on commercial airlines, private planes can fly you there, but the most important thing is that all of your paperwork, including any travel exemptions, are in place. Arriving by private plane does not give you the privilege to bypass any form of regulation at this time. The benefits of a private aircraft are more for your health because you will not be mixing with other passengers, and the staff will have completed comprehensive health checks of their own to be working for that flight. In summary, this is still not the best time to be trying to fly to Sydney from the US unless you are a national trying to get home.