If you’re planning to travel internationally any time soon, there may be a few barriers in your way. Due to the rising number of COVID cases in the U.S. brought on by the Delta variant, the European Union (E.U.) stripped the country of its “safe” travel standing on Aug. 30, which had allowed U.S. passengers to travel to the E.U. with little to no restrictions. As a result, many E.U. member countries have tightened their policies on American visitors—like Sweden, which is no longer even allowing vaccinated U.S. travelers, unless for essential travel reasons. And now, your vaccination status could prevent you from getting on certain flights.
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Qantas airlines announced on Sept. 8 that it plans to bar unvaccinated passengers from international flights, as reported by Traveller.com.au. Alan Joyce, the CEO of Qantas, confirmed that the Australian-based airline will introduce a policy requiring proof of vaccination before passengers board international flights.
“Qantas will have a policy that internationally we’ll only be carrying vaccinated passengers,” Joyce said. “Because we think that’s going to be one of the requirements to show that you’re flying safe and getting into those countries. We’re hoping that can happen by Christmas.”
Currently, Qantas is not performing widespread international travel, as Australia’s borders are fully closed with exemptions only being given to Australian citizens, residents, and immediate family members. But according to USA Today, Australia is expected to reopen international travel in December, and the airline said it is likely that mid-December is when flights to countries with high vaccination rates, like the U.S., will start up again.
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“When international flights resume, governments and airlines may introduce requirements for passengers to have proof of a COVID vaccination,” Qantas confirms on its travel updates page. According to Business Insider, the airline has not said whether or not passengers on domestic flights will also be required to be vaccinated at some point.
Qantas is working to incentivize vaccinations among all passengers. The Australian airline currently runs a program that allows fully vaccinated members of its frequent flyer program to get money taken off their next flight or extra frequent-flyer points.
The airline is also mandating that its staff of 22,000 get vaccinated against COVID. Frontline staff is required to be double vaccinated by Nov. 15, and office staff by the end of March. But medical exemptions will be on the table.
“We think everybody should be protecting themselves, but we also have a requirement to protect our colleagues and our passengers. And then there’s also a requirement to protect the community,” Joyce said.
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