For most Australians, it’s been 22 months since most of us have stepped onboard an international flight.
But with international border restrictions scrapped from Monday, there will be a raft of travellers heading to the airport, and airlines have advised of how your flying experience will be different.
Qantas recognise that there will be a high level of anxiety, even for seasoned travellers, and said they will open check-in desks four hours earlier (instead of the three-hour pre-departure window), ahead of international flights.
And the team from the Flying Kangaroo have promised it would “hand-hold” passengers over the next few months as we adjust to the new way of travelling. They will prompt each passenger via text of email seven, four and one day out from their flight on the forms and COVID-19 tests that need to be completed and download.
Their new ‘welcome back’ guide, which includes a revamped app that has customized checklists for passengers, will be available to fully vaccinated travellers from Monday.
They also advise to make sure your passport is up to date (with at least six months’ validity) and to download the new Australian-issued International COVID-19 Vaccination Certificate, which is available for free from smartrraveller.com.au, to prove your COVID-19 vaccination history.
Qantas also have said to download the free IATA Travel Pass, issued by the International Air Transport Association, which will be integrated with the Qantas app.
“We have redesigned our digital booking experience with world-first technology to help our customers easily navigate the post-COVID-19 world of international travel and (will) guide them through each step including regular checklists sent via text ahead of flights,” Qantas Group Chief Customer Officer, Stephanie Tully told the Australian Financial Review.
Passengers will be required to wear their own mask or opt for a disposable surgical-style mask provided by the airline. But they have promised, apart from more hand sanitising stations, more signs, and a bit more red tape and paperwork, the experience should look and feel the same.
The first-class lounge will reopen on Monday and business class passengers and gold pass holders will have access until the other lounge opens.
And onboard, a “Welcome to Country” announcement will be made available on all international flights, and Qantas have new vegan and vegetarian meals.
They’ve also created a new signature cocktail, the Qantas Sky Spritz, which features Davidson plum and finger limes.