Qantas closes bookings on US, UK flights to Oct 2021

That trip to LA or London seems further away than ever, but there's optimism on travel bubbles popping up around Asia.

By David Flynn, October 30 2020
Qantas closes bookings on US, UK flights to Oct 2021
Executive Traveller exclusive

Qantas has stopped selling tickets on its flights to the USA and the UK until the end of October 2021, underscoring recent comments by CEO Alan Joyce that travel to both countries is unlikely to restart until the end of next year at the earliest.

However, flights to a number of Pacific and Asian destinations remain on the schedule in a sign of optimism that Covid-safe 'travel bubbles' may open up in the coming months.

That roster includes New Zealand, Singapore, Hong Kong, Japan, Fiji and New Caledonia.

Qantas had previously removed long-range international flights through to March 2021; today's changes to the airline's reservation system provide further insight into Qantas' expected 'go' and 'no-go' zones for 2021. Johannesburg and Santiago have also been pulled from the schedule.

"We've temporarily stopped selling on some of our other international routes like the UK and US until the end of October 2021, given the uncertainty in those markets and ongoing government restrictions," a Qantas spokesman confirmed to Executive Traveller.

On the bright side, the spokesman added that the airline was "continuing to sell fares to destinations where travel bubbles may be opened."

Speaking at last week's Qantas annual general meeting, Joyce said that "for some of our big destination like the United States and the UK, it's going to need a vaccine given the high prevalence of the virus in both of those locations."

"But we are getting more and more confident about the opportunities and the potential for a vaccine in helping getting those operations up by potentially by the end of 2021."

Alan Joyce is optimistic about travel bubbles helping restart Qantas' overseas network.
Alan Joyce is optimistic about travel bubbles helping restart Qantas' overseas network.

Joyce remained positive about the prospect of travel bubbles with countries which have Covid-19 under control, and flagged that the airline could begin direct flights to new destinations such as South Korea and Taiwan if they lowered their borders to Australians.

Travel bubble destinations would not require quarantine at either end of the trip, although it's possible that a negative Covid test might be required prior to departure and potentially on arrival.

“There’s some great developments in testing that could resolve the issue of people needing to go into quarantine,” Joyce noted at the CAPA Australia Pacific Aviation Summit held on September 2.

Those tests are “potentially super-fast, 15 minutes or so,” Joyce recounted, “to test whether you’re exposed to Covid-19, which means if you pass there’s no need to be in quarantine at the other end.”

Read more: Qantas eyes flights to South Korea, Taiwan

Options for US, UK-bound travellers

Although new Qantas bookings to London and the USA can no longer be made through to late October 2021, the flights themselves have not been cancelled and existing bookings remain active.

While this provides Qantas with the flexibility to reinstate sales in the unlikely event that conditions change, it also officially precludes would-be passengers from claiming a refund from the airline.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) suggests that in the event where "a travel booking has not yet been cancelled, even though it seems unlikely that restrictions will be lifted by then", customers should "contact the business you made your booking with" and discuss their options.

This can include "what remedies may be available to you if you cancel now, as compared to what remedies may be available to you if you wait" until Qantas formally cancels your flight.

"Depending on your circumstances, it may be in your interests to wait for further updates from your travel service provider before taking any steps to cancel your travel and seek a remedy," the ACCC suggests.

As previously reported, as an alternative to refunds Qantas has been encouraging many passengers to turn their booking into travel credit which can used on Qantas flights through to the end of 2022.

Some incentives are also being put on the table, such as having an additional 10% of the booking's value held in credit, or allowing all flights booked using that credit to accrue a double serve of frequent flyer points or status credits.

Read more: Qantas offers travel credit incentives over refunds for cancelled flights

David

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.

P
P

17 Jan 2018

Total posts 86

I am lost for words! Sad day for all Australians who love to travel and broaden their horizons. Open invitation for foreign carriers to take an even bigger market share once people are allowed out.

Qantas

19 Apr 2012

Total posts 1124

P all airlines are in the same boat limited seats available due to quarantine requirements by governments. Qantas is merely reducing its liability by holding bookings and therefore other people’s money. If the border miraculously opens to UK and US earlier then flights will be scheduled and seats sold. Qatar has the largest market share and see how its Doha hub treats women business travelers.

nope

if you can fly to

New Zealand, Singapore, Hong Kong, Japan, Fiji and New Caledonia

you can then fly beyond these countries.

This at a time when USA/UK flights (unrestricted) with no quarantine, seem to be happening very shortly.

Qantas

19 Apr 2012

Total posts 1124

Regular I meant Australian governments, which makes flying into Australia is very closed and I see Fiji is still closed, and given the UK (and New York is) in full lockdown it will be interesting to see how that works. Care to make a prediction when they will fully open, like you did for the NZ and Qld election outcomes.

27 Jun 2020

Total posts 13

Doubtful

You have to be a resident of the country you are flying to

that might be right now, but talk of UK/USA flights very very soon. Not sure if USA election result could change that.

Where is this 'talk' that UK and USA flights might return "very very soon"? Informed, reliable, authoritative and trustworthy sources please, not some blogger or random forum post.

And how on earth will the results of US election change the trajectory of COVID infections and the increasing death rate? The only thing that will change that scenario for the better will be greater efforts at halting the spread such as compulsory masks and lockdowns which will still be widely resisted and take months and months, see the UK for a good example of how long it can take even with lockdowns, and the release and widespread uptake of a vaccine, and there's no sign that a vaccine is 'around the corner', and even if a vaccine was released in say December, how long do you think it would take to produce the several hundred million doses needed for America as well as for enough Americans including the anti-vax idiots to take the vaccine?

I actually reckon that Joyce's comments about "theend of 2021" is optimistic at least for the USA and maybe for the UK too, unless the UK closes its borders to European travellers because of the widespread second wave now hitting Europe.

24 Aug 2011

Total posts 808

UK has just closed all international travel as they battle their second wave so any travel to UK is unlikely for many months.  The Australian Government is yet to give any indication as to how they will treat travel bubbles except for the limited bubble that currently exists with NZ.  

It is likely that any bubble that is approved will depend on what other countries the bubble country is opening up to.  For example, Australia may be willing to open a bubble with Singapore but, if it believe Singapore is also opening bubbles with countries Australia does not consider safe, then the bubble will not happen.  It is also likely that any bubble will only allow travel to the bubble country and not beyond.  If you do travel beyond, then the bubble will not apply and you will have to return to Australia subject to quarantine limits including capacity limits and 14 day hotel quarantine.

I would also expect that, where bubbles are opened, the flights are restricted to bubble travelers only with no transit passengers also on the flight.  For example, if a Singapore bubble is opened, then SQ and QF will operate specific flights with no ability to transfer to or from other flights in Singapore.

All of this will rely on testing before travel as well as thorough passport inspection by each country.  This will mean e-Gates are unlikely to reopen until the crisis is resolved.  Once a vaccine is available, vaccination records will be electronically added to passport records.  This will mean those countries that choose to restrict quarantine-free entry to only vaccinated travelers, which will be most, have an easy way to identify those passengers ineligible to enter.

P
P

17 Jan 2018

Total posts 86

Wrong!! UK border still open. Some restrictions but far from closed. Dont believe everything you are being feed by Aussie media trying to justify the draconian restrictions in place in/out of Australia. 

17 Jun 2020

Total posts 154

Qantas only had 20% or less market share before Covid, so there is not much left of the market for foreign carriers to take. 

21 Dec 2016

Total posts 38

Is Qantas even an airline anymore?  What's the point?  

I hope Australians remember, when this is all over, that Qantas walked away from a country still repatriating tens of thousands of people, and walked away from people trying to visit their families overseas.

Qantas

19 Apr 2012

Total posts 1124

Nyjoe the Australian government has stopped people visiting families overseas not Qantas and I note Qantas is repatriating people from overseas at a quarter of the cost and far more safely than Qatar airways.

02 Jul 2020

Total posts 1

Qantas stopped flying when government was not imposing a cap and price was very reasonable. Actually you could buy a ticket to Europe for less than the subsidised ticket Qantas offered on flights guaranteed by the government. It was only when the government imposed the ridiculous and probably unconstitutional ban that prices hiked. For the Australians flying home or the ones that had to go out Qatar was the “ national carrier” . Qantas has been a cynic operation, you can’t call yourself a national carrier and then turning your back to the baton in a moment of need. But hey Australians are turning the back  to each other, can’t still fathom the poll reaching about 60 % saying that is right that Australians are left abroad! We are all Australians and mate , except if you are from Victoria or if you are from ....

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

28 Oct 2011

Total posts 403

Qantas stopped flying when the Australian Government banned Australians from flying overseas (without an exemption). The effect of this was that while flights from overseas cities may well have been profitable, QF flying its aircraft from Australia to those overseas cities was going to be a huge lossmaker. That's why they did fly out to bring Australians back home when the government subsidised the cost of the operation. Qantas is not a charity - it has to bring in sufficient money to cover the cost of operating its flights.

P
P

17 Jan 2018

Total posts 86

The point is there should be no restrictions on people leaving. Qantas and Public should reject and lobby for basic human rights!

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

07 Aug 2013

Total posts 203

Once people are allowed out though will be when Qantas resumes. No point in stressing about it now. I'm sure Qantas know what they are doing.

10 Jul 2020

Total posts 5

This madness of not allowing Australian citizens to travel is a total overreaction. If you're vulnerable to the effects of COVID then don't travel, otherwise we should be free to take risks and get on with enjoying our lives. This is far from the death sentence that people originally thought it was. It's more about cases now than deaths. The figures show that! I don't want to spend several years not enjoying seeing the world when the chances that I'd get I'll if I contracted this virus are tiny.

Waiting for an elusive vaccine is plain stupid. We need to stop hiding under a rock and start living again. 

Qantas

19 Apr 2012

Total posts 1124

Jono cases mean hospital beds for around 20% of them and they are hospital beds not available to others for other conditions that is why Europe is moving to a full lockdown, and hospital beds are running out in the US. If you’re wanting to travel to see a locked down world with no hope of getting into a hospital if you break your ankle, then I’m sure you can find a way to leave. Here in Australia it is among the least locked down and safest places to travel.

Couldn’t agree more. Inbound quarantine is fair enough for now (although home quarantine needs to be reinstated, to take the pressure off inbound arrivals and remove the caps), but outbound should be completely unrestricted (and never should have been limited to start with).

Qantas

19 Apr 2012

Total posts 1124

By the way Jono everybody is ‘vulnerable to the effects of COVID-19’.

17 Jun 2020

Total posts 154

And luckily for customers, the airline has promised refunds will be processed by October 2027. 

no airline can afford refunds. The media is to blame for all this fear for no reason. It's a the flu. Just a bad one. No healthy person has died anywhere from corona, not one.

Qantas

19 Apr 2012

Total posts 1124

Regular not sure where you get your data from but people with no pre-existing conditions do die not high, around 5-10% but they do take up hospital beds at much the same rate as everybody else at 20%. Of course you may mean by nobody healthy that is COVID-19 makes you unhealthy which of course is self evident. Not sure what the media has to do with it when any government health site will confirm the figures. A bit of wishful thinking a bit like your NZ and Qld election predictions.

08 May 2020

Total posts 14

I really hope Qantas have got it wrong :(

10 Aug 2020

Total posts 17

While Qantas is being fed tax payer funded stimulus money I'm sure they don't really mind but eventually that will run dry.. then I'm sure things will change.. it's hardly the fault of Qantas it's the pathetic international border closures by the government.. so all us tax payers have to prop up an airline.. wake up Australia... 

Let's see what happens mid next year unless we open up again.. 

Joe
Joe

03 May 2013

Total posts 543

New Caledonia?...what an expensive waste of money. Go to Byron or QLD instead.

Qantas

19 Apr 2012

Total posts 1124

Tourer the question is who are we opening up to. I hope you’re not suggesting the US or UK. I agree Vietnam, Korea and Taiwan make sense on top of NZ.

No one knows if there will ever be a vaccine. Assuming there will be is just plain stupid.

Air New Zealand - Airpoints

05 Nov 2014

Total posts 41

Not true. The Pfizer vaccine will clear Phase 3 and be ready for use by the second week of December, and the Oxford vaccine will by the end of the year. The problem is that the Morrison government has an unused licence to make the Oxford vaccine while the UK government already has millions of doses.

Eli
Eli

30 Jul 2015

Total posts 100

Ridiculous!!

Air New Zealand - Airpoints

05 Nov 2014

Total posts 41

Rapid testing is how Trump got the virus - 20% of positive people return negative tests.

I’d be ecstatic to get trips to the Isle of Pines and Aitutaki before the vaccine arrives.

15 Aug 2017

Total posts 3

Still surprising that there is little comment on our government restricting citizens from leaving the country regardless of the COVID-19 situation.  For all the right reasons related to COVID19 etc, still seems like an over-reach and more akin to an a Totalitarian regime not an open pluralist democracy.  Not that it seems sensible etc but people do have reasons to leave. Yes there is a rampant virus out of control across Europe and USA but people there are still travelling and  federal borders are open.  I am not advocating or planning it for myself however I am not sure the fundamental rights should be trampled,  I get the restrictions inbound etc, the returning repatriation flights and all however the human rights issue around restrictions on leaving will be something hotly debated in the future.

24 Oct 2010

Total posts 2431

For Belbinr and others: let's please not start another long back-and-forth on Australia's border restrictions. We've had this topic well and truly debated in the comments under many previous articles, and the last think we want is for the same arguments to hijack this article, so let's keep comments on topic (these QF flights and related issues, eg destinations opened/closed) and ensure those comments add value to the article instead of sidetracking it.

Qantas

19 Apr 2012

Total posts 1124

I see the England lockdown for the next month (or two) prohibits all (overnight) travel outside ones home. This makes any flights to Australia further into the far future and may make the current rehabilitation flights possible only with an exemption.

AT
AT

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

14 Sep 2012

Total posts 327

I don't know why comments are so negative and cynical about Qantas and it's reaction to CV, it's not like the exec team run it as a side hobby on the weekend, it's a multi-billion dollar logistics operation with thousands of staff (those remaining). The decisions to fly, not fly, suspend services etc would be run through scenarios and risk assessments up the wah-zoo before any decisions would be made, and no decision would be made lightly. Get real people!

02 Nov 2020

Total posts 1

Does this include codeshares which were available eg SYD LHR via DXB on EK metal?

A few of us do still have to fly (with approval).

17 Jun 2020

Total posts 154

EK is still flying but not sure about QF code. 

QFF

16 May 2016

Total posts 63

QF, VA, NZ and the airports have a role to play in convincing governments that travel can be safe, and covid risk managed. Overseas, multiple airlines and airports are trialling rapid testing, free testing, standardised result apps etc etc...

In this region, the airlines are doing NOTHING but cancel schedules and complain about government inaction. So do something about it!

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

06 May 2016

Total posts 30

AA still flying and using QF code in March 2021

Singapore Airlines - KrisFlyer

12 Apr 2017

Total posts 86

I cannot wait for these bubbles to start. Hong Kong and Singapore here I come !

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

25 Sep 2013

Total posts 1243

It was only a matter of time.


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