Should You Cancel Domestic Travel Due To Coronavirus?

Should You Cancel Domestic Travel Due To Coronavirus?
Image: iStock

Now that the government has put the rest of the world on the “do not visit” list, the country’s borders are closing down. Only essential overseas travel is recommended. Our airlines are also getting ahead of the curve. Qantas has carved back international flight capacity by 90% with their domestic routes losing 60% of their available seats. Virgin and Jetstar have also made cuts.

On Wednesday, the government provided advice on domestic travel. Should you cancel your domestic air travel?

Anyone who’s visited an airport will know that social distancing can be challenging in an airport queue. And, in a plane, unless the airlines institute new seating arrangements, you’re likely to be sitting next to someone, inside the one metre area that the WHO suggests we need to keep from other people.

The government’s advice on domestic travel on Wednesday is that the risk of being exposed to coronavirus on a plane is low.

The Prime Minister said:

“The travel advice to every Australian is, ‘Do not travel abroad. Do not go overseas’. We have not seen a lot of evidence of people contracting this virus on aircraft; the advice is that air travel, domestic air travel, is low risk. To that end, states and territories are working together with their health advisors, there are parts of this country that it would not be wise for people to visit”.

Travel to remote communities is to be avoided he said as an infection in those communities could be a major problem given the vulnerability of the people and the availability of healthcare.

If you don’t think you need worry on a domestic flight, here’s some sobering information.

Virgin Australia has published a list of flights that have had a confirmed coronavirus case onboard. While some are international flights, there are a number of domestic flights where people were at risk.

Flight Number Departure Date Route
VA682 2 March 2020 Perth to Melbourne
VA1394 3 March 2020 Brisbane to Adelaide
VA811 3 March 2020 Melbourne to Sydney
VA800 4 March 2020 Sydney to Melbourne
VA7 4 March 2020 Brisbane to Los Angeles
VA2 5 March 2020 Los Angeles to Sydney
VA24 5 March 2020 Los Angeles to Melbourne
VA24 6 March 2020 Los Angeles to Melbourne
VA833 6 March 2020 Melbourne to Sydney 
VA516 7 March 2020 Gold Coast to Sydney
VA535 8 March 2020 Sydney to Gold Coast
VA2  9 March 2020 Los Angeles to Sydney
VA418 10 March 2020  Sydney to Adelaide
VA480 13 March 2020 Maroochydore to Sydney

We know that coronavirus is spread when an infected person comes into close contact with someone else. It is spread through droplets when someone coughs or sneezes, or by contact with contaminated hands, surfaces or objects.

Given it is so easily spread and the situation is fluid, it’s no doubt worthwhile to consider avoiding any environment where there are groups of people in close proximity and lots of surfaces that the virus can survive on. For me, that means airports are a “no go” zone. While the government is saying gatherings of over 500 people are off limits, it would no doubt be smart at this stage to reconsider all travel.

If you have the time, perhaps jump in the car – unless you’re trying to get from the mainland to Tasmania!


  • I am one of the few who thinks travel bans are good.

    There was no way to stop citizens from taking joy flights which increases global warming. So the silver lining to the virus is less greenhouse gases.

    It is a shame it took a pandemic to stop the joy flights. Bush fires did not work, nor the drought and nor did 48 deg days.

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