Isn’t there government help to get a flight?

Based on historical flight data for the last four months, the government has been flying in an average of 15 flights per month (see chart below). This is assuming that the only government-arranged repatriation flights (“DFAT flights”) have been to Darwin, Cairns and Alice Springs – cities where there is no passenger arrival cap and therefore, in theory, each repatriation flight can fill every seat on the plane.

View chart on Tableau Public

While there is help available from the Australia Government to access government-arranged commercial flights, the help is limited to those identified as vulnerable (to apply, click here).  Plus, you still need to pay the commercial rate for the flight (or apply for a loan from the government to pay for the flight).

How much do DFAT flight tickets cost?

Compared to the extremely high cost of tickets at the moment (due to the caps being halved from July 14), paying for commercial rate for a ticket on a repatriation flight is probably well worth it.  How so?  If, for example, the government-sponsored flight is going to Alice Springs, it is possible that the flight could fly at full capacity and this should mean that tickets prices – in theory – should not be too far off pre-COVID prices (see article Can I fly to Alice Springs?). This seems to fit with what some DFAT flight passengers have said to be the price of their ticket: from AUD $1400 to 2151.

What will class me as ‘vulnerable’?

What may put you in the category of ‘vulnerable’?  According to this ABC News article, Australians may be considered ‘vulnerable’ for reasons such as medical issues or the expiration of their visas.

Is the government trying to increase the number of DFAT flights?

You may wonder, ‘What are my chances of catching a repatriation flight?’  The good news is that the government has been increasing the number of repatriation flights they have been arranging (see chart above).

What DFAT flights are planned?

These are DAT flights still planned for September 2021:

  • From London Heathrow: 21/09
  • From Istanbul: 26/09
  • From Vancouver: 22/09
  • From Delhi: 22/09 and 29/09

(Thank you Alan Lam, a travel agent, for these dates)

Where have the DFAT flights been flying from?

To learn more about repatriation flights to specific destinations (and from what cities they have departed), see these posts:

What do I do if I’m not eligible for a DFAT flight?

If you do not meet the government’s definition of ‘vulnerable’ and you cannot afford a first/business class ticket, you may need to consider:

  • Waiting for things to start to open up to tourists again in Australia, which some say may be mid-2022 (or at least waiting for the halved caps which apply from July 14 to increase again – at this point they will continue to apply until at least October 31). Others are optimistic that Australia will meet the 80% vaccination threshold around December and if so travel restrictions should be eased (see update on Qantas website).
  • Getting a loan from family or friends in order to buy a first class or business class ticket
  • Flying into an alternative Australian capital city

For more info:

Can I book onto DFAT flights myself or through a travel agent?

“Please do not contact agents about booking these. DFAT flights are not bookable by agents in agency systems.

“If an agent is offering DFAT flights to you, then they are simply booking via the Qantas booking page on your behalf and most likely also charging a high fee to do the clicking and data entry for you.

“As a reminder, you need to be registered with DFAT and you must receive the email from DFAT with the booking code in order to be eligible. If you did not receive the DFAT code directly from DFAT, you may be offloaded from these flights by DFAT.

“Please also note that DFAT can and do offload passengers for other reasons as well, so bumping/offloading may still occur on DFAT flights. Whilst they are much lower risk statistically speaking than commercial flights, this is still a point that you should be aware of when booking DFAT flights. (Alan Lam, travel agent)

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