Although I was able to get a flight out of Australia within a day, it took me 3 months to get back.
Government limits on international arrivals means there are few commercial airlines actually flying to Australia, those that are flying can only have 30 or 40 passengers on each flight. Flights were cancelled or rescheduled as quotas were reduced by the government. A ludicrous situation.
On 10th December the earliest Business Class seat I could get was on 25th January. That flight got cancelled. The next available seat was 4th March. I had to pay £ 4,500 again, waiting weeks for the refund of the cancelled original booking. Ironically it was cheaper to get a return ticket One way to Sydney was over £5,000. Economy tickets were even more scarce.
The 4th March flight was also cancelled. Fortunately, my UK travel agent was able to move my booking to a flight on 9th March. Third time lucky.
I celebrated with a few glasses of bubbles and enjoyed the full Business Class experience. Heathrow long haul departures was empty.
Thousands of Australian Citizens have struggled to get home in the past 18 months. There are still 38,500 Aussies stranded overseas.
Behind this number are real people, living in highly stressful situations of uncertainty, financial impact, juggling employment, housing when expected departure dates keep changing. Missing family and friends, missing the big life events.
I was fortunate to have a house to live in, have financial stability, have a job I could do remotely and have my daughter staying with me.
The sale of Mum’s house was going smoothly but the logistics of actually clearing the house and moving out, getting specific PCR tests within 72 hours of flight, was a leap of faith, knowing that flight could still be cancelled at the last minute. It was a very tense time.
Government repatriation flights were few and expensive. For many people, they have been a last resort after multiple cancellations.