I am so sorry we've found ourselves in this situation. What a nightmare for so many families around the world. Who would have thought that our beloved Aus shutting us out would go on for so long, or cause so much pain and heartache.
I wanted to give a bit of perspective and also share my story and where myself and my finance are at.
Why? I hope it can give others something to read and feel a bit more connected, but I am also hoping it gives me something to do and keep my mind occupied.
I'm an Australian citizen who has been living in London for the last 7 years. I'm lucky enough to have a Dutch fiancé, and during the first London Lockdown we made it over to the Netherlands to be with my fiancé's family. We're still in Amsterdam just a little under a year later.
I've had 3 sets of flights to Australia so far since March 2020.
- April 2020
- August 2020
- September 2020
We have also gotten my partner an Aussie 309 Partner visa ($11,000 including legal fees) so that we can travel home. This visa has to be activated by March 2022 (I am aware you can get extensions in some circumstances, so will do all we can to do that if it comes to it).
All three of the flights above have been cancelled. Something I have been patient about because, well, I know how many people are stranded and how difficult this is for so many.
In September last year, when my final set was cancelled, I accepted that I wouldn't be home for Christmas and decided to try again in 2021, "when things calmed down".
This year, in April and once lockdowns started easing, I booked the first set of affordable flights I could which were after my vaccination estimate of August. I booked the flights for 5th October flying out of London, as I figured that had the highest chance of success due to the (at the time) low-rate of COVID and high-rate of vaccination. (How funny things change so quickly!)
As we get closer, and the flight caps close in on us, I have been told that it is very unlikely that we will make our flights on October 5th as they are economy through Qatar Airlines and are likely to be cancelled. These flights, at the time, were around £2000. This is about double (2x) the usual price, as we all know.
To be sure, a few weeks ago I purchased a second set of flights for September 14th 2021. This set are through Papua New Guinea and, again, leave through London. These tickets were around £5000, which is about 5x.
Now, we're being told that it is highly unlikely that either of these two sets of flights will be successful in taking us to Australia due to the fact they are, despite the prices, economy.
Last night, we made the first withdrawal from the house deposit we've been saving for over a year for - and purchased two (fully-refundable) business class tickets from Frankfurt to Brisbane in mid October. These flights have cost us around $20,000 AUD, or €13,000. The costs of these flights is around 10x the flights of a usual trip home. These one tickets could cover the spend I'd usually make on tickets over the course of almost a decade!
Right now, it's not clear to us if, despite having almost $50,000 tied up in flights and visas, we will get home to Australia in time to see my family for the first time in three years.
Despite it all... to say this has been devastating to us, I think, would be overstating things. We're so lucky we'd been saving for a house, so we were able to use our savings. We're lucky to be employed full time, and I am so lucky to have a safe home in Amsterdam. My family are safe and well, and I know they aren't at risk of dying of COVID in Australia. However, I need to get home as some urgent family changes have occurred and I need to be there for the next 3-4 months.
We have registered our flights on the spreadsheet we are all eagerly watching, and I will update on how the three sets we have go. I presume Qatar will be cancelled imminently, and it is not clear if the PNG ones will go ahead (I spoke to the airline last night).
I hope that this isn't what you "have" to do to get home, but I have a very worrying feeling that this is genuinely one of the only ways to guarantee yourself a ticket home to Australia right now. I'll be sure to let everyone know if we make it back, and when.
P.S: I know how horrible it is to purchase multiple sets and "sit" on them - but knowing the caps are closing down again is giving us little option. I hope we can cancel our flights ASAP and return the potential seat to another deserving Aussie family.
Thinking of you all.