$18k Flights, Quotas & Quarantine: Why I Can’t Afford To Get Home

Since I left Australia four years ago, I've had the comfort of knowing I could return home should I need to - that's no longer an option.

While Australia closed its borders to foreigners, it has also priced out overseas Australians who cannot afford soaring flight prices home due to increased caps on returning arrivals.

This means citizens like myself are left bidding for limited airline seats. And financially-motivated airlines dictate prices.

A recent report showed as little as four economy passengers were on board some Australian-bound flights, which airlines admit are forced to charge excessive prices due to arrival restrictions.


International arrival caps:


350 per day


500 per week


525 per week


500 per week

Melbourne & Hobart


How much would it cost me to return to Australia:

In weeks, flight prices shot up to unprecedented levels.

It's simply no longer financially viable for citizens to return to Australia right now.

Out of curiosity, I calculated what it would cost me right now to return home.

I have converted costs into USD for consistency.

expensive flight prices during covid19
Flight prices from the US to Australia amid COVID19 Pandemic.

I used Skyscanner to search flights within the next month to Brisbane, Australia from my current location in the US. The flights ranged from $7,000-$18,000 with an average of around $10,000.

The two-week mandatory quarantine in Queensland costs $2000 for a single person.

I'd be $12,000 out of pocket. That's close to $17,000-AUD! I work from my laptop, but non-remote workers would lose even more from being unable to work for those two weeks.

This doesn't account for flight cancelations, which would be likely due to the high cost and low demand. Even if eligible for a refund, they can take 6 months to come through. I'm still waiting on a flight refund from 4 months ago.

At those prices, I simply could not afford to risk flight cancelations.

What now?

Fortunately, I don't have a desperate need to return to Australia, unlike expats who have lost their jobs and now face daunting realities or Australian travelers stranded due to flight cancelations and soaring prices.

A locked-down world leaves me with limited options. And due to living by visa timelines, I'm forced to keep moving.

For now, Mexico should provide a good base for the following months where I can work and quarantine and hopefully ride out enough time there before my visa expires and I'm yet again traveling in a global pandemic.

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