Just flew from Melbourne to San Francisco. Here is the latest

If you have recovered from COVID-19 within the last 90 days, consult a doctor before departure to obtain a certificate stating that you have recovered and are cleared to travel. This will exempt you from requiring a negative test before departure.

Although Australians can enter the United States without a visa through the Visa Waiver Program if they are traveling for less than 90 days, you will still need a Electronic Travel Authorization System, or ESTA, to enter. Eliminate this as soon as you can, given approvals can take time. You want to avoid having your approval still pending while you wait to board.

A day before

I opted for the supervised RAT a day before the flight. It cost me $64 to make sure my test results were returned in just one hour. The doctor took a sample and sent me on my way; 20 minutes later I had a negative test result and was ready to fly.

For those happy to leave the test until the airport, Histopath is located at Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane international airports; the pathology department offers 90-minute PCR tests for $79 and $59 for a supervised RAT with results in 30 minutes.

Proof of vaccination (or an official waiver) is key to enter the United States and makes the travel experience smoother. Download a International Certificate of Vaccination COVID-19. This will be your golden ticket and will be required when checking in for your flight.

United Airlines will fly from Melbourne to San Francisco three times a week.

I also started my Digital passenger declaration return to Australia before leaving. You can start a DPD up to seven days before your flight – and you must submit it before you board the plane to leave your overseas destination for Australia. Fortunately, Australia no longer requires a negative COVID-19 test to returnso it’s one less thing to worry about on the trip home.

As you go through the forms process, check your airline’s website. Some airlines now have apps for you to upload and check your negative test results and vaccination status to help streamline everything.

Take insurance

I had comprehensive travel insurance as part of my job, but it’s important to make sure you’re covered should anything happen overseas, including for COVID-19 related expenses.

Some countries require specific COVID-related medical coverage to enter. The United States doesn’t, but that doesn’t mean all-risk insurance is a skipping step.

Finally, be sure to frequently check the COVID-19 requirements for your destination at least 24 hours before departure, just in case anything changes. And then, when you’re done, check them again.


The reopening of the road was celebrated with a large image of the Golden Gate Bridge at Melbourne Airport.

When checking in to Melbourne on June 5, I was asked: my negative COVID-19 test, proof of vaccination and my passport. The whole process was quick and easy.

To celebrate the return of United Airline’s Melbourne-San Francisco service, Melbourne Airport has been decorated with a huge photo of the Golden Gate Bridge.

After an early morning Polaroid, I headed through security to the United Airlines lounge, which is shared with Air New Zealand at Melbourne Airport.

Flight UA 61 took off late from its scheduled departure time of 9:30, but we ended up landing 30 minutes earlier than our scheduled time of 7:05. The 257 seats on the Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner were full, with travelers eager to make the 14-hour trip directly to San Francisco on one of three weekly flights that restarted on June 5.

United is the only US airline offering nonstop flights from Melbourne to the US at this point.

Boarding was quick and easy. Throughout the flight, the easing of COVID-19 restrictions has allowed business class customers to enjoy the return of staggered meal service (during COVID-19, starter, main course and dessert were brought in at the same time to minimize contact).

Each meal and snack came with hand sanitizer, with flight attendants handing out disinfectant wipes.


The 48 business class seats of the United Airlines Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner have been reserved for the return of direct flights.

The flight crew was quick to assure guests of COVID-19 precautions being taken on board, including state-of-the-art hospital-grade HEPA filters that remove 99.97% of airborne particles in the air. air.

The The United States no longer requires masks being worn on airplanes or in airports and some fliers liked to relax without a mask; many others, including myself, wore a mask for the duration of the flight.

So far, so good. Anticipating an easier time at San Francisco International Airport (SFO) than at Los Angeles (LAX), I exited the plane to go through customs – where I was met with a very long line. waiting. It turns out, an airport employee tells me, that the early arrival time worked against us in the end.

Passport control is not yet open which means we are now queuing with hundreds of other people on previous flights including a flight from Sydney.

An hour and 45 minute wait at customs isn’t the ideal welcome in San Francisco after a 14 hour flight, but it’s okay once I reach a customs officer.

A few questions about the purpose of my trip and when I’m leaving, and I have my stamp, and I’m on my way to pick up my bags, then enjoy the city.

The writer flew as a guest of United Airlines.

Best tips:

  • Before booking your flights or finalizing your itinerary, check what is required for Australian travellers.
  • Head to the Smart Traveler Website for the latest tips and check out the Centers for Disease Control for the latest US entry requirements.
  • Take a pack of surgical masks and change them every few hours. Masks are not required in US airspace or airports, but are still recommended by the CDC.
  • Take RAT tests to self-test while you are away and Panadol in case you contract COVID-19 while travelling.
  • Arrange comprehensive travel insurance, including coverage for illnesses related to COVID-19. It will be invaluable if you need it, and that’s common sense these days.

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