When Aimee Chadzynski bundled into her seat on a Perth-bound Emirates flight this week, she cried.
After weeks of stress and upheaval, she and her husband were finally on their way back to Australia.
The couple had moved to the United Kingdom on a work transfer 13 months ago. Their intention was to remain for two years, maybe three. Then the SARS-CoV-2 virus leeched its way across the globe.
Aimee lives with severe asthma and Type 2 Diabetes, which places her at high risk of serious illness should she develop a COVID-19 infection. Heeding the advice of her medical practitioners, as well as that of both the British and Australian governments, she had remained indoors, confined entirely to her London apartment for 17 weeks.
With cases still gripping the UK, her job as secondary-school teacher was no longer viable long term. Australia's relatively low caseload offered safety, and with people at airports by then likely to have been in lockdown, there was a window of opportunity.
Yet as Aimee made the difficult decision to uproot her life, she listened to the words of Australia's leaders, scrolled through press and social media, and it was clear: in the eyes of many of her own countrymen, she — and others like her — aren't welcome back.
'They should have been better prepared.' 'They had plenty of time to come back.' 'Why move overseas if you can't afford to live there?' 'Why should taxpayers have to pay because they wanted to go elsewhere?'
"It seems to be an 'us and them' rhetoric," she told Mamamia. "It's almost felt like, 'Well, you're all the problem; you're going to bring the virus here.'
"It's all been quite alienating and isolating, with very little understanding of people's lives and the reality of their situations."
Arrival anxiety: what inbound passengers face at the border.
On July 4 and 10, the Morrison government announced a raft of changes to border rules in order to ease the pressure on hotel quarantine.
Among them was a reduction in inbound passengers, from roughly 6,500 people per week to about 4,000. This included a cap on the number of arrivals at major international airports, including Brisbane, Perth and Sydney.
In the latter case, for example, just 450 passengers are allowed to arrive per day, and no more than 50 can be onboard each flight.
Which passengers make that cap is entirely at the discretion of airlines. With flights suddenly overbooked, passengers are having their tickets cancelled often with little warning and, in some instances, reportedly in favour of those who can afford a business class seat.