Premier Anna Palaszczuk has once again closed the Queensland borders and that decision has everyone scurrying home in a mad panic.
We are living in crazy, crazy COVID times. Those of us in the travel industry have been hit hard professionally and personally as travel is our livelihood, lifestyle and passion.
So for me, getting on a plane this week to visit my bestie up on Magnetic Island was beyond exciting. Even Ubering to the airport had me grinning from ear to ear.
I dutifully downloaded my COVID border declaration answering the questions about my recent whereabouts (honestly) and packed my neglected suitcase with great alacrity.
I had managed to secure a return ticket with Jetstar for sub $350 which had also put a big smile on my face. Add to this the dismal weather forecast for Sydney and let the gloating begin!
I’d be a liar if I said I had no trepidation with flying during the age of COVID but the sheer joy of travel trumped any minor anxiety.
Upon arrival at Sydney Airport I was surprised to see a busy, bustling terminal with probably 70% of travellers masked.
Social distancing was kind of observed in the lines but not enforced. My border declaration was sighted at check-in and a few questions were asked and I boarded a totally packed plane. We were all issued face masks and most people chose to wear them. Flight was on time and relatively normal.
Arrival was slightly weird and reminiscent of going through immigration as we had to line up and have our border decs sighted and once again answer a few questions.
Then it was grab my bag and disappear into the tropical sunshine.
Whilst waiting for my bag my phone pinged and I received a message from the Queensland Government (I know I’m important ....). No, it wasn’t the Premier welcoming me to her state but a reminder of my obligation to get myself tested at the slightest sniffle.
A few other COVID texts came through whilst I was sunning myself on Maggie Island so clearly us NSW visitors were on the radar.
Thankfully for me no sniffling or any other significant health issues ensued so I got on with enjoying my lovely Queensland break....
...until the text from Jetstar arrived informing me that my return Saturday flight had been cancelled. No explanation no alternative flight just an offer of a credit (thanks very much) and good luck with getting home.
With the borders being closed due to three COVID cases in Queensland, all the uncertainty and the possibility of NSW going into a lockdown and maybe having to pay for a hotel for two weeks had me on the hunt for an alternative flight.
Imagine my horror when I see flights one way from Townsville to Sydney all over $1000 and most of them with Brisbane overnight stopovers.
Luckily I managed to secure the last seat on a Qantas flight for $400.
I know we’re in unprecedented times but this seems like price gouging plain and simple. Jetstar cancels flight and offers $144 credit - rebook Qantas and pay $400!
It’s so sad - the flying public are going to need all the encouragement they can get to reboard planes and start travelling again. With airlines manipulating fares like this that’s just another reason to stay put.
Rant and gloat over! At least Maggie was beautiful!
All images Jenny Rowland
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