I learned of my first flight cancellation at the end of June. I was panicked, but my airline assured me that there were plenty of flights leaving Europe to get back to Sydney, so I re-booked another flight a few days after my original flight and thought nothing of it.
But two weeks later, it happened again. And another fortnight later, again. Suddenly, I was alone in Spain with no money, and no idea if I was ever going to make it home.
It became clear by the third flight cancellation that the reason for these cancellations was that I was flying economy, and the only way I would ever make it home was if I upgraded my flight to business class, as those flying business class are less likely to have their bookings canceled.
Watch: Life inside Australia’s quarantine hotels. Post continues below.
As a penniless university student, I finally had to turn to my family to help get me home. I’m very grateful that I could.
I read countless stories of people that had been trying to return to Australia for months with no success and couldn’t afford to upgrade to business class tickets, meaning they were trapped overseas indefinitely. Reading these stories was both heartbreaking and infuriating.
How could the government make it so difficult for Australians to come home?
Finally, on August 21, after weeks of holding my breath waiting to receive a fourth cancellation email, I was able to catch my flight from Madrid to Sydney. I was so relieved to finally be going home, after seven months overseas, and almost two months of trying to get back to Australia.
But the drama didn’t end there for me. Getting through customs and out of Sydney airport took almost two and a half hours. We stood in lines for long periods of time despite being the only people in the airport. My fellow passengers and I were all surprised by how poorly run the operation was, considering they had been doing this for months.
Eventually, we were escorted out of the airport and directed to one of three buses. Because I have terrible luck, my bus led me to the notorious Travelodge Hotel on Wentworth Street. The whole bus groaned with disappointment and we were escorted inside.
My room, while dated and not impressive, was not one of the horrifying ones that everyone has seen and read about. The fridge had a strange smell and the shower door didn’t quite work, but I just accepted that I wasn’t staying in one of the ‘nice hotels’ and would just have to put up with it for the 14 days.