The Brutal New Reality Of Flying From NSW To Queensland

"So, you've come from Coogee."

From masks to sanitiser to not touching the office cookie jar, we’ve all adapted a lot in the past six months. But in the last two weeks it’s all shifted again. Far from beating The Virus, with a second wave of confirmed cases now building, mostly in Victoria and NSW, and the Queensland government closing its borders, we’ve all had to reconsider our positions again.

Importantly, Queensland has now closed its borders to residents of Sydney. So even if you haven’t visited Victoria recently (and live in Sydney), you won’t be allowed to fly up north.

However, given we are likely to experience an ‘open shut’ recovery (which may involve flying domestically being turned ‘on and off again’ for the next few years as cases grow then diminish), many Australians may be curious as to what it’s like to fly domestically right now.

Especially given the recent shuttering of Queensland’s borders, many might be wondering what it’s like (or at least, was like, in the last few weeks, up until the border was closed) to fly from NSW to Queensland. Enter: a recent ESCAPE article, in which the experience of flying from Sydney to Brisbane, on Jetstar, is documented in detail.

Published yesterday, this comes after another article was published a couple of weeks ago by Stuff, which details what it was like to fly from Sydney to Brisbane on Virgin Australia.

We’ve collated the most compelling insights of each, and left them below.

Here’s the sad new reality of flying from NSW to Queensland.

You must fill out an online declaration form before you go… but you’re not forced to?

“I filled out an online declaration form on the QLD Government website,” the ESCAPE author wrote.

Interestingly, she did this “not because the airline notified me (though Jetstar does have a travel alerts page), but because constant news reports about driver-side tete-a-tetes with police at the Coolangatta border made me think I might need to provide some COVID-free evidence.”

A swift Google search made the ESCAPE author realise this was a necessary – if ambiguous – step.

“After some basic question answering about health and location, I was emailed a Queensland Border Declaration Pass with a big G (for General) on it that would be valid for seven days. Was I free to fly? I guess so.”

The airport is refreshingly quiet

Every cloud has a silver lining (and a rubbish free, freshly wiped down Maccas table). As ESCAPE reports, “I’d anticipated queues for questioning, ID checks and temperature taking. Nope. The terminal was eerily quiet. Self check-in was as basic as being offered two flight selections on screen, was I flying to Brisbane or the Gold Coast.”

There will be more selfies than usual… #pandemicaesthetic

“A woman snaps a selfie as we buckle in for our flight,” the Stuff author writes. “She may be smiling though it’s hard to tell, seeing she, like about half a dozen passengers including myself, is wearing a mask.”

Food services have taken a hit

“No meals were served on board – another Covid19 policy – but water and individually wrapped biscuit bars were offered as a snack,” Stuff reports. “I declined both – mainly because I didn’t want to remove my mask, but also because I noticed the crew were not wearing gloves when they poured the water into plastic glasses.”

Sydney’s latte line is back in play

“At bag drop off I was shown a list of about 60 Sydney suburbs. It might’ve been more. ‘Have you been here?’ No, we hadn’t. We were free to move on,” (ESCAPE).

There is a crazy – US-esque – show of force on landing, but none of the hand holding to go with it

The US has super-strong (some might say overzealous) security and super obvious procedures to go with it. From the two accounts of ESCAPE and Stuff it would appear Queensland has increased its presence but not made its procedures (particularly the need to fill out an online entry declaration form before you go) adequately clear.

“A wall, some 100 metres or more, of 1.5m-distanced uniformed officials including police, army and fire and rescue pointed us in the direction of policed tables to have our declarations and IDs checked,” ESCAPE reports.

“[But] when you fly to the US, the airline prompts you to fill out your visa details online and won’t let you board without clearance,” (ESCAPE).

“Currently passengers within Australia need to take responsibility for ensuring they can enter a state and have the correct documentation upon landing or vehicle crossing.”

There may be police interrogation on arrival

As ESCAPE’s correspondent reports, the police asked, “So, you’ve come from Coogee?” as well as for the purpose of her visit, what she’d been doing for the last 14 days and whether she’d been to any of the known places in Sydney (a list was provided) where there had been a COVID threat.

You need to renew your declaration after seven days

Just another annoying – but important – thing you need to do if you want to travel interstate right now.

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