Masks are now mandatory on all Qantas, Virgin Australia NSW flights

Masks must now be worn on Qantas and Virgin flights, although they're optional at airport lounges

By David Flynn, January 4 2021
Masks are now mandatory on all Qantas, Virgin Australia NSW flights

Qantas and Virgin Australia have made face masks compulsory on all flights to, from and within NSW, in accordance with state regulations now in effect.

Both airline have to date been requesting passengers to wear masks on all domestic flights, and issuing complimentary face masks and hand sanitisers upon boarding.

Qantas and Virgin Australia have confirmed to Executive Traveller that it's now mandatory to mask up on all NSW flights unless you're under 12 years of age or have a medical condition. Similar regulations have been in place for Victorian flights for several months.

"When travelling from and within New South Wales or Victoria, you'll need to wear your mask as soon as you enter the airport, and also inflight," Qantas says. "When travelling to New South Wales or Victoria, you'll need to wear your mask during boarding and inflight."

A spokesman for Virgin Australia said it has now also mandated the wearing of masks on all flights to and from New South Wales or Victoria.

Face masks have been mandatory on all Regional Express flights since June 2020.

Fines and flight bans

NSW Police can issue an on the spot $200 fine to anybody not wearing a face mask across a range of indoor setting in Greater Sydney, including "on public/shared transport and waiting areas for public/shared transport."

Qantas and Virgin Australia declined to comment on how they would deal with any passenger who refused to wear a mask, although under airline 'conditions of carriage' all passengers are required to follow "reasonable directions" of a crew member.

Many overseas airlines which have already made masks mandatory have dealt with passengers who refuse to wear a mask by removing them from the flight and in several cases banning them from the airline.

Must you wear a mask at an airport lounge?

However, the rules surrounding lounges are less clear – although airlines and health authorities naturally encourage wearing a face mask, along with social distancing, in indoor venues.

Airlines consider their airport lounges as hospitality venues similar to cafes and bars: under NSW Health regulations, the staff at such facilities are required to wear a mask, but not customers.

Qantas and Virgin have also reconfigured their airport lounges to comply with state regulations regarding capacity, such as NSW's current 'one person per four square metres' rule.

Virgin Australia has added QR code-sign codes to its Sydney lounge, which reopened on December 15, with a Virgin spokesman adding that "customers should ensure they’re aware of government requirements prior to travel, including local advice around wearing face masks and coverings within the airport and in our lounges."

A NSW Health spokesperson said the government agency "acknowledges the order will not capture every conceivable setting or scenario where the wearing of masks may be appropriate."

"In these cases, we are calling on the public to exercise common sense and follow the longstanding NSW Health advice to wear masks in those indoor settings where physical distancing is not possible."


David Flynn is the Editor-in-Chief of Executive Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.

05 Oct 2017

Total posts 521

While I don't agree with this policy I am not surprised by it. Actually what surprises me the most is that masks weren't mandated across the entire network of domestic flights nationwide back in April last year. This is when masks started to become mandatory in many parts of the world, starting with Asia and Europe and by May also North America.

It is interesting that the airline that has been first to come out in support of a mandatory vaccination policy to fly on it's international services is one of the last airlines in the world to mandate masks on it's domestic network.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

24 Jan 2018

Total posts 567

I'll be flying MEL-BNE later this month, but am confused about the extent I'll need to wear a mask.  Airport - check.  Lounge - Maybe. Entering aircraft cabin and during take-off - check.  But can masks be removed once inflight?  If so, when: after leaving Victorian airspace or only after leaving Victorian AND NSW airspace?  

Just realised that this question reads sort of rhetorical, but I am interested to learn what the rules will be.  Hoping someone reading here knows and will reply.  Thanks in advance.

05 Oct 2017

Total posts 521

You won't be allowed to remove your mask in-flight, except to eat and drink.

I presume you would need to put it on just before entering the terminal (ex MEL or SYD) but can wait until boarding to put it on at the BNE end (if returning to MEL). Once in BNE, you will probably be allowed to remove the mask as soon as you step off the plane.

So far, masks not required inside the lounge, but since you're departing from MEL I don't know how strict their rules are.


19 Oct 2019

Total posts 3

Great that masks are being made mandatory on flights

A simple,cheap and effective way to reduce the spread of COVID

Does this also cover Jetstar

22 Jul 2020

Total posts 4

From the Jetstar website:

"From Sunday 3 January customers flying to and from New South Wales you will be required to wear a face mask prior to boarding and for the duration of the flight as indicated by local government regulations."

05 Oct 2017

Total posts 521

I don't agree with it, but I'm totally unsurprised by it. What does strike me as odd is that they're only doing this 8-9 months after most other parts of the world implemented a uniform mask rule to fly. It appears as though flights that don't involve NSW or VIC are still mask-free. However, I wouldn't be surprised if masks eventually become mandatory on all flights throughout the country within the coming weeks and months.

And yet aside from Qantas being the first airline to talk about requiring vaccines to travel on it's international flights (except green lane countries) in the future, Australia is also the first country to talk about the possibility of requiring a Covid vaccine to enter. Ironic, given Australia is one of the last countries in the world left, not to impose a countrywide mask mandate at some stage since the pandemic began.

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