Should I try flying to Sydney?

With the highest International passenger arrival cap of any Australian city (not including Darwin as its arrival cap is only for government-arranged repatriation flights), you would think Sydney should be the easiest city to get a flight to (for a comparison of arrival caps, see this chart). At the moment, about 1500 International arrivals are allowed into Sydney per week.

Due to the sheer number of flights into Sydney per day (nearly 19 per day – see this chart), if you need a flight in the shortest timeframe, you best chances are with Sydney.

However, it will come at a cost. Sydney is averaging 11 passengers per flight (see chart below) so only these few share (bear) the running costs of flying in (many airlines flying to Australia are also bearing the running costs and running at a loss). This means tickets are very expensive. However, if you have the money, a flight to Sydney will probably get you into Australia in the quickest timeframe.

View chart on Tableau Public

Can I get an economy ticket to Sydney?

Unfortunately, on average, for the month of August, only about a third (31%) of the first and business class seats were taken on flights to Sydney (see this chart)*. This means that…

Unless you are flying from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia to Sydney, it appears it is impossible (at this time – based on August’s historical flight data) for you to fly with an economy ticket to Sydney. See the chart below.

View chart on Tableau Public

Firstly, check that the right filters are activated on the chart (look at the filters on the right-hand side and make sure only the latest month is checked for Month, Year of Date and that only Sydney is checked for Destination City).

You will that only Asia Air X’s flights are in the positive range for Average Number of Economy Seats Left. If you hover above the only bar in the positive, you will get more flight details. You will see that five flights Asia Air X flights flew from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. These flights to Sydney had an average of 11 economy seats that were left after all the first/business class seats had been filled.

Therefore, at this time, probably the only way to fly economy to Sydney is with these flights from Kuala Lumpur. However, we must keep in mind that even these tickets would still be very expensive compared to pre-COVID prices.


For the highest chance of flying into an Australian city anytime soon, Sydney is probably your best bet as the sheer bulk of flights into Australia are to Sydney. However, you will most likely need to purchase first/business class seats in order to give yourself the maximum chance of not being bumped off the flight at a closer date to the flight (likely when the government gives the airlines their seat allocation for the flight).**

If your trip is not terribly urgent and you can afford to wait many months for your flight, your absolute best chance*** of not getting bumped off your flight is to book a first/business class ticket on a flight to Adelaide. At the moment, none of the first/business class ticket holders flying to Adelaide are getting bumped off their flight. To learn more, see my post:

* Some of the flights were possibly changed into cargo-only flights; this would have allowed the remaining flights to fill more seats than the average shown on the chart.

** People with economy tickets have reported that they were able to fly and were not bumped off flights with very few passengers onboard – it is difficult to say how often economy tickets are prioritised over other passengers holding more expensive tickets.

*** As long as the current restrictions are in place and based on data from the last four months.

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