Unvaccinated travellers to face bans on flights within Australia

You'll soon need proof of vaccination for many domestic flights as well as international ones.

By David Flynn, October 19 2021
Unvaccinated travellers to face bans on flights within Australia

Vaccination passports and a ban on unjabbed flyers will be part of the domestic travel experience as Australia steps out of the shadow of Covid-19, and airlines are gearing up for what could be a contentious 'new normal'.

Some of the strict measures which will increasingly apply to overseas travel are set to ripple down to flights between states and even within states.

Although New South Wales will permit international travel from November 1, travel throughout the state – such as between greater Sydney and regional NSW – will be restricted to people who are fully-vaccinated or hold a medical exemption, while the unvaxxed will have to be content with holidaying in their local government area.

Even when Queensland reaches its own 90% vaccination milestone in early 2022, the state's domestic and international borders will reopen in quarantine-free mode only for fully-vaccinated visitors.

Not jabbed? "You will need to meet the relevant requirements for entry and will be required to undertake a period of quarantine," the government's Covid roadmap states.

Industry body Airlines for Australia and New Zealand (A4ANZ) – which represents Qantas, Jetstar, Virgin, Rex and Air New Zealand – says "other states and territories are expected to introduce similar requirements as they reopen."

Working with airports, the group has developed guidelines "to help travellers know what to expect as states and territories prepare to open their borders."

This includes the possibility of would-be travellers being asked to sign in using a QR code and, in states that require it, confirm their vaccination status at check-in desks and airport lounges.

Call for national standards

"We do ask that people take the time to familiarise themselves with the requirements based on where they are travelling, and where relevant, have proof of vaccination or a medical exemption on hand," explains A4ANZ CEO Alison Roberts.

"Given different vaccination rates and levels of community transmission around Australia, we know that conditions will phase in and out at different times in different parts of the country."

Roberts' aim is to have state and territory governments "align their requirements as much as possible to avoid a patchwork of rules nationwide that make it hard for customers to follow."

“Australia is on track to have one of the highest vaccination rates in the world, so it's likely that many of the restrictions that will be applied over the next few months will eventually phase out."

Only last month, Virgin Australia Group CEO Jayne Hrdlicka presciently remarked that she expected vaccination to be mandatory for some interstate travel as states exit lockdown and reopen their borders.

"That's my expectation – it's not been mandated yet by the Government, but I would expect that there will be some constraints with respect to first movements as borders come down," Hrdlicka told a Trans-Tasman Business Circle event on September 17, forecasting that for Virgin's domestic travellers "in November and December (there) will need to be verification of vaccination."

While there remains no national Australia-wide QR code system, vaccination certificates issued through Medicare can be downloaded and printed, viewed through the Medicare app and added to smartphone wallets.

The government this week made available an internationally-recognised vaccination certificate in readiness for the return of overseas travel, while Qantas is putting the finishing touches on its Travel Pass app.

06 Feb 2021

Total posts 54

This should have been sorted and decided on months ago. Why does it always seem our Governments, particularly the Commonwealth, are behind where they need to be on setting out policies and procedures.  This should have been a no-brainer months ago, planes are confined spaces, particularly in economy, most vaccinated people would not want to be sitting next to, or near, someone who is not vaccinated. 

15 Jan 2021

Total posts 9

You’ve been sitting next to unvaccinated people the last 18 months. And you stand in line with them at the supermarket. 

The odds of getting Covid if you are: 


Wearing a mask 

Privy to the air filtration system on aircrafts 

Is as about remote as the plane having malfunction and dropping from the sky. 

Your unfounded fear is ridiculous. 

02 Nov 2021

Total posts 1

This [right here] is the most absurd thing I've read all day and a shameful indictment on the collective intellect of sheep-Australians. You stand next to unvaccinated people every day (*that's right, we are still regarded as people, for the time being). My co-workers sit next to me, unvaccinated, all day. I ride the train, unvaccinated, just fine. These vaccines truly are medical miracles.. they are the first vaccines in history whereby the second you take it (*and i mean the instant the needle goes in) you immediately become ultra susceptible to any unvaxxed person in the vicinity. In fact, an unvaccinated person breathing the same air within 100m could kill YOU, you dog and your ancestors. I'ts uncanny ● Anyone who believes this anti-scientific, fear-mongering divisive garbage is literally as deep as birdbath. I've bever seen so many stupid people so afraid of contracting something that their masters just forced them to get triple/quadruple vaccinated against.. using, of course, "tHe mOsT eFfectiVe vAccInE eva.." 


11 Jul 2014

Total posts 928

I actually think only vaccinated travellers should be allowed on international and domestic flights.

American Airlines - AAdvantage

13 Jul 2015

Total posts 276

I mean.. if this article is to go by.. they will be the only ones travelling. 

Thai Airways International - Royal Orchid Plus

15 Jan 2013

Total posts 457

I'll get my one for international printed off from my gov and my domestic one that way today sometime printed off.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

11 Oct 2014

Total posts 681

As is stated in the article, none of this has been mandated by the Government.

One has to wonder if this is purely a Government mis-cue (unlikely in my opinion) or is Scotty from Marketing deftly hoping to slide this into the laps of corporate aviation operators, who may well have to bear the legal cost(s) of challenges at State and Federal levels?

Given that this type of legislative requirement (if it happens) is not in existence in the USA or Europe yet, I have to wonder how we - as a country - will actually enforce this for all of our 93% NSW vaccinated brethren? And for foreign travellers, when they are admitted. 

It seems a little 'hard-fisted' overkill in terms of the 210 per week unvaccinated overseas arrival travellers who will be admitted to the country and shuffled into the 14 day quarantine that everyone seems to think will be abolished.

05 Oct 2017

Total posts 527

Canada has introduced such a requirement but I believe it won't be in place for more than a few months. It's been proposed for the USA too, but a negative test will likely be another option as it already is for Hawaii, where you can show proof of vaccination, a negative test or proof of recovery.

Malaysia and Vietnam have instituted a mandatory vaccination policy to fly, although Vietnam is mulling allowing a negative test since only 20% of the population has been fully vaccinated so far. Thailand has also mulled a vaccination to fly requirement and even to travel by long distance train or bus journeys, even as the two provinces employing the most stringent entry requirements (Phuket and Krabi) now allow domestic travellers to enter with either a vaccination certificate or negative test. The previous requirement was to show both.

In all these cases, I think in 6-9 months time they will abolish such requirements for domestic travel, depending on vaccination rates.

Therefore, if Canada and many parts of Asia can introduce such rules, don't be surprised if Australia does too.

Of course I do hope legal challenges are forthcoming to challenge these mandates in every one of the countries mentioned. While I don't expect much to happen in Communist Vietnam with it's opaque legal system, in all the other countries mentioned I do hope court cases are brought against the various parties instituting these discriminatory rules.

I also don't understand why unvaccinated arrivals into Australia won't have their quarantine times slashed at least down to 10 days (which various countries in Asia, including Thailand and Malaysia have done) or even 5-7 days if arriving from a low risk country. That should be the first step.

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