Aus-NZ travel bubble opens: What you need to know

 

Travellers, rejoice; the trans-Tasman travel bubble has finally opened, giving Australians their first chance to take off overseas for the first time in more than a year.

From how it works, to where you'll be able to fly to and how travel insurance applies, here's what you need to know.

HOW DOES THE TRANS-TASMAN TRAVEL BUBBLE WORK?

The arrangement will allow passengers from Australia and New Zealand to travel freely between the two countries through "green zone" flights.

These flights mean travellers from both countries won't have to quarantine for 14 days upon arrival. The flights will restricted to passengers who have not been anywhere other than Australia or New Zealand in the previous 14 days.

Passengers must also not have tested positive to COVID-19 in the 14 days before departure, or be waiting on the rest of a COVID-19 test. They cannot have been in an area designated as a COVID-19 hotspot, nor be transiting from another international flight.

Mask-wearing will be mandatory on all flights, and upon arrival, and passengers will transit through special zones at the airport to help ensure they do not come into contact with passengers from other parts of the world who need to undergo quarantine.

"Passengers will need to provide comprehensive information on how they can be contacted while in New Zealand. They won't be able to travel is they have cold or flu symptoms," NZ Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said recently.

Travellers also do not need to have had a COVID-19 vaccine in order to use the bubble.

 

 

ARE YOU FLYING IN THE AUSTRALIA-NEW ZEALAND TRAVEL BUBBLE? TELL US YOUR STORY IN THE COMMENTS BELOW

 

 

WHAT ROUTES WILL BE AVAILABLE?

Qantas and its budget subsidiary Jetstar will operate about 100 flights a week, flying in to Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Queenstown.

The routes are as follows:

 

QANTAS

Auckland < > Brisbane

Auckland< > Cairns

Auckland < > Gold Coast

Auckland < > Melbourne

Brisbane < > Christchurch

Brisbane < > Queenstown

Christchurch < > Melbourne

Christchurch < > Sydney

Melbourne < > Queenstown

Melbourne < > Wellington

Queenstown < > Sydney

Sydney < > Wellington

 

JETSTAR

Auckland < > Sydney

Auckland < > Melbourne

Auckland < > Gold Coast

 

Qantas said it would ramp-up capacity and routes as the market recovers.

 

 

Qantas and Air New Zealand will operate about 100 flights each per week. Picture : NCA NewsWire / Ian Currie
Qantas and Air New Zealand will operate about 100 flights each per week. Picture : NCA NewsWire / Ian Currie

 

 

Air New Zealand will operate up to 100 flights per week.

Most of its routes will commence on April 19. However, Auckland to Hobart will begin on April 22; Christchurch to the Gold Coast on April 24; Auckland to Adelaide on May 5; Queenstown to Brisbane on May 5; Auckland to the Sunshine Coast on June 28; and Auckland to Cairns June 29.

Routes that start on April 19 include:

Auckland < > Brisbane

Auckland < > Melbourne

Auckland < > Sydney

Auckland < > Perth

Auckland < > Gold Coast

Wellington < > Brisbane

Wellington < > Melbourne

Wellington < > Sydney

Christchurch < > Brisbane

Christchurch < > Melbourne

Christchurch < > Sydney

Queenstown < > Melbourne

Queenstown < > Sydney

 

 

 

WHAT HAPPENS IF THERE'S A COVID-19 OUTBREAK?

It's safe to say the travel bubble isn't without risks, and holiday-makers could find themselves stuck in the event of a COVID-19 outbreak.

Ms Ardern recently said the arrangement would operate on a "flyer beware" basis.

"While we absolutely wish to encourage family and friends to reunite and visitors to come and enjoy the hospitality New Zealand is ready and waiting to offer, those undertaking travel on either side of the ditch will do so you under the guidance of flyer beware," Ms Ardern said.

"Once we know about a case in Australia we will have three possible responses when it comes to flights and access to our border, and we've captured these with a framework based on continue, pause, or suspend."

She said: "For instance, if a case is found that is quite clearly linked to a border worker in a quarantine facility and is well contained, you'll likely see travel continue in the same way.

 

Flights will be available to Auckland (pictured), as well as Christchurch, Wellington and Queenstown. Picture: Supplied
Flights will be available to Auckland (pictured), as well as Christchurch, Wellington and Queenstown. Picture: Supplied

 

"If, however, a case was found that was not clearly linked to the border, and a state responded by a short lockdown to identify more information, we'd likely pause flights from that state in the same way we would stop travel into and out of a region in New Zealand as if it was were going into a full lockdown.

"And if we saw multiple cases of unknown origin, we would likely suspend flights for a set period of time."

Travellers caught up in affected states would be asked to follow at least one of the following four instructions:

- Monitor symptoms on return

- Take a test before they depart

- Isolate on arrival

- In some situations, go into managed isolation for up to 14 days

She also warned the government would not support travellers who found themselves stranded due to an outbreak.

 

 

 

 

 

WILL TRAVEL INSURANCE COVER ME?

 

Some travel insurers have updated their policies to provide some cover for COVID-related disruptions.

In an analysis of 15 product disclosure statements, comparison site Finder found that five insurers covered some pandemic-related expenses. These included policies from Cover-More, Easy Travel Insurance, Qantas Insurance, Medibank, and Webjet.

Nib, as well as its brands Travel Insurance Direct and World Nomads, also provide protection.

But Southern Cross Travel Insurance, Tick Travel Insurance, Insureandgo, Zoom Travel Insurance, Travel with Kit, American Express, World2cover, FastCover, and Budget Direct provided no COVID-related insurance, according to the analysis.

 

 

Despite some insurers offering cover, Finder travel expert Angus Kidman warned there were still pitfalls holiday-makers should watch out for.

"Travel insurance won't cover many COVID-19-related travel disruptions within the bubble, such as government-enforced border closures, lockdowns or travel delays," Mr Kidman said.

"This means that if you book a trip, you won't be covered for cancellations if a travel restriction comes into place - though airlines such as Qantas will offer flight changes, credits or refunds if a flight is cancelled."

Mr Kidman said "pandemic exclusions are a fact of life with travel insurance."

"That doesn't mean zero cover, though. Many policies will cover some health costs if you're infected with coronavirus yourself. It's important to be clear what's included, and check the PDS for your policy before signing up."

Coinciding with the launch of the bubble, Medibank has announced those who take out travel insurance with the company will no longer have to declare pre-existing osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and juvenile idiopathic arthritis conditions.

The insurer has also almost doubled some of its luggage claim limits.

"Customers travelling overseas will now be able to claim up to $1200 for lost mobile phones, up to $15,000 for lost luggage and up to $6000 for rental car excess," Medibank chief customer officer David Koczkar said.

"While those travelling domestically can now claim up to $1000 for a lost mobile phone and up to $5000 for their rental car expenses"

Originally published as Aus-NZ travel bubble opens: What you must know

 



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