What you need to know for an international flight to Australia

Sarah Pollok gives advice on the new normal when flying to Australia
Much has changed over the last two years and international travel is no exception.

From critical Covid-19 documents to handy carry-on items, we cover what travellers should know before boarding their international flight to Australia.

Before you go

Check destination requirements
Rules and required documentation will vary between countries, so it is crucial to check the official website of your destination or transit location about their requirements.

Currently, Australia requires arrivals to provide:
— Proof of full vaccination
— A negative pre-departure PCR test taken within three days of departure or a medical certificate as evidence of a negative RAT taken under medical supervision within 24 hours of departure
— A Digital Passenger Declaration completed at least 72 hours before departure

States and territories also have specific conditions of entry.

Check your passport
Dig out and dust off your passport, then check the expiry date because, if it expires in six months, many countries will not accept it as valid. Unsurprisingly, many travellers have recently discovered their passports are due to expire, resulting in a backlog of renewal requests.

Purchase travel insurance
Research your travel insurance options and ensure your policy provides Covid-19 cover. Ideally, travel insurance should be the first thing you purchase, before flights, to ensure any incidents or issues can be covered. Some destinations and Covid-related situations may be exempt, so speak to a representative to understand exactly what will be covered.

Don’t forget key documents, old and new
Remembering a passport can be hard enough but new documentation will also be essential. Travel to Australia requires a Digital Passenger Declaration, official proof of negative Covid-19 test and an International Travel Vaccination Certificate. Some countries may not require these documents but others still do in order to visit or transit through, such as New Zealand. Consider carrying printed copies too.

Keep things digital
To save time at the airport, you can also upload your vaccination status and test result to the IATA app on your mobile phone ahead of your flight. The app also provides information on additional destination/transit requirements and allows you to schedule pre-departure tests and view results.

Check airline luggage requirements
When it comes to the weight and size of your checked and carry-on luggage, every airline is different. A checked bag with Air New Zealand can weigh up to 23kg and measure a total of 158cm (the sum of its length, width and height) before incurring fees.

It’s also worth refreshing your memory on what items must be carried on and others that need to be packed in checked luggage.

Plan your carry on
A long flight can feel even longer when you forget a few comforts in your carry on.

Pack handy items like charging cables, headphones and snacks as well as entertainment like books, magazines or a device loaded with films. New essentials could also include sanitising wipes or gel, important medication and spare medical-grade masks.

When you go

Be the early bird
With getting to the airport and going through Customs, air travel always takes a little longer than expected. While Auckland Airport says many departure processes will look the same, Air NZ recommends Australia-bound passengers arrive at the airport three hours before departure for extra document and health checks.

Have your mask ready
The Government requires you to wear a mask while in the airport and on your flight. It can be fabric but must cover your nose, mouth and chin and be attached to the face by loops around the ears or head. Scarves, bandannas or T-shirts are not adequate, nor are masks pulled down off your nose or mouth. For the best protection, wear a disposable surgical mask or N95 respirator.

Forget, break or lose your mask? Airlines will supply passengers with spare masks.

Have your documents ready
Don’t be the one fumbling around for your proof of vaccination or negative pre-departure test at the front of a queue. You’ll need to show both at check-in, so have them handy. These can be uploaded to the IATA app, printed out or stored digitally on your phone’s “wallet”.

Don’t plan to shop
Many food and retail shops will be closed, so check Auckland Airport’s website to see what stores will be open and operating in the international departures terminal.

Feeling flustered?
Between the airport, anticipation and foreign processes, it is totally normal to feel overwhelmed. Fortunately, airport and airline staff are there to help. If you feel uncertain, lost or confused, flag down a staff member find a help desk to help you out.

Due to the rapidly changing nature of the pandemic, all information can be subject to change. Check government updates at covid19.govt.nz and covid19.homeaffairs.gov.au.

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