International travel is back in just a few days, and so is one part of flying a lot of people struggle with – but airlines insist the issue won’t last for long.
International travel is back in a matter of days – with thousands of Aussies both here and overseas packing their bags for reunions and holidays.
But travel in the age of coronavirus isn’t like it used to be, and airlines are already putting contingency plans in place to prepare for any potential issues or speed bumps.
One way Qantas plans to avoid any airport issues is by encouraging passengers to arrive at the airport an hour earlier for their international flight.
This means the recommended arrival time of three hours before boarding will push to four hours.
Speaking today at Sydney International Airport, ahead of Qantas’ global restart on Monday, the airline’s chief commercial officer Stephanie Tully said she hoped the four-hour recommendation wouldn’t last for long.
“We’re encouraging customers to come from four hours out – customers still can come later but we really want to smooth that curve so that customers are arriving at different times,” Ms Tully said.
“We are encouraging you to come that extra one hour because if there are any customers that are apprehensive, or that have documents that need to be checked downstairs, then we’re ready to go and our beautiful team have enough time to process all of those customers.”
Despite customers’ fears they could be arriving to a deserted and closed airport at 2am for a 6am flight, a Sydney Airport spokeswoman said the international terminal would be ready to go.
“Make sure you’re clear on the requirements of your destination and check with your airline about what time you should arrive to check-in for your flight,” the spokeswoman said.
“We’ve got more hands on deck to help passengers navigate their way through travel again. Our retailers will be open and ready to serve a coffee, even for the those early flights departing Sydney.”
Ms Tully said the coronavirus situation was constantly changing and with the International Air Transport Association (IATA) travel pass coming online in the next few weeks, a pass that will streamline passengers’ vaccination certificate and evidence of a negative test, the four-hour window could soon be scrapped.
“The new technology, for example the IATA travel pass, that will streamline the journey even further,” she said.
“The world of post-Covid travel will continually evolve over the next 12 months, so our job at Qantas is to help our customers through those changes.
“What exists next week probably won’t exist in the next few months; testing will probably change, quarantine as we know it has already changed.”
Ms Tully said Qantas was determined to hold the hands of their customers through the entire flight check-in process.
“We need to guide you through in this new world of Covid and travel and we’ve spent a lot of time preparing to make sure we can help our customers make it feel like a journey that is easy,” she said.
Qantas’ first international flight will land from Los Angeles on Monday morning before two flights – one heading to London and one heading to Los Angeles – depart on Monday night.