What The Trans-Tasman Bubble Could Mean For You

What is a travel bubble?

To restart international travel in a safe controlled manner, governments are looking to create ‘travel bubbles’. Travel Bubbles are agreements between two or more governments allowing people to move between areas of low, or no Coronavirus transmission without the need of a full 14 day quarantine period.

Countries like Australia & New Zealand are very cautious about the movement of people across international borders, in fear COVID-19 will spread widely again. The hypothetical ‘bubble’ is an agreement to lift travel restrictions between those countries.

If a third country wanted to enter an agreement with either country, then both Australia and New Zealand would need to agree to expand the bubble to include the other country. Over time more countries could join a growing bubble until the risk of the pandemic passes.

There are examples of this already happening domestically in Australia, with the clearest example being Queensland and South Australia; residents of these states can move freely over their state lines with minimal disruption while excluding residents from other states entering.

What is the Trans-Tasman travel bubble?

Australia and New Zealand are very keen to resume some sort of travel between the two nations again as soon as it’s safe to do so. The Prime Ministers have both expressed interest in allowing travel between COVID-19 safe regions by as early as Christmas.

If this sounds familiar to you, it is. Serious negotiations stalled earlier this year as Victoria’s second wave took hold of the state.

Under the current proposal, we could see travel between areas of low Coronavirus transmission, for example Sydney to Christchurch, allowing both Australians and Kiwis to enter each others countries without undergoing mandatory quarantine. This would be a huge development for Australia, as this could free up places in the hotel quarantine system by up to 15%, allowing many more Australians from the rest of the world to return home.

Trans-Tasman Travel Bubble Airlines
Prior to the pandemic, there were many routes between Australia & New Zealand (above). Under a travel-bubble, there will be carefully selected routes likely based off low local COVID-19 transmission rates

If this goes ahead, how can I get to NZ?

Expect airlines, especially Qantas & Air New Zealand to jump at the opportunity to open routes across the Tasman again. We’ve already seen multiple examples in Australia where airlines have added capacity on highly sought after routes following relaxations of state borders.

We can expect flights to be cheap, really cheap. Airlines will be keen to chase your dollars to get you sitting in their seat. When searching some random dates for future travel next year, airlines are already offering seats lower than AUD$250 each way. When the time comes, keep in mind there are a few things to consider to buying the best value for money airfares.

Aus to NZ airfares
Looking at random future dates already show reasonably cheap flight options between Australia & New Zealand.

As it stands, there are no definitive routes that airlines will be allowed to fly and the timeline on quarantine free travel is still a speculative game. Don’t make any formal plans or circle any dates in the calendar until the governments release a formal policy!

Why would anyone travel to NZ?

I’ve been fortunate enough to venture to New Zealand twice, in 2010 and 2012; covering stops in Auckland, Hawkes Bay, Taupo and Wellington. The landscapes and experiences are a world away from Australia with the only requirement (normally) being a short three hour flight.

The top of my New Zealand bucket list is the adventure capital of the world, Queenstown. I’m itching just thinking about the opportunity to experience one of the world famous bungy jumps, hike some amazing trails and play some of the world’s most scenic golf courses.

Long story short

While the announcements by the Prime Ministers at the moment are somewhat speculative, it shows genuine interest from both sides of the Tasman that travel between the two countries is high on the agenda.

A Trans-Tasman bubble will help tourism operators who are desperate to start selling travel dreams again, help reunite families across ‘The Ditch’ & for people like you and me, will scratch that ever growing itch to whip out the passport and discover our next adventure.

Let me know in the comments below…!
Aussies, what is at the top of your New Zealand bucket list?
Kiwis, where in Australia are you most excited to explore once the borders open for tourists?

Feature photo of Auckland, New Zealand by Partha Narasimhan on Unsplash

Why You Shouldn’t Post Your Boarding Pass Online

You’ve done it, I’ve definitely done it; most of us have posted pictures of our boarding pass online. Why wouldn’t you? The adventure is starting, you’re at the airport killing an hour before the flight and enjoying a drink in the departure lounge. You just want to share your excitement with your friends (or more like rub it in their faces).

If there is a clear example of why you shouldn’t post a picture of your boarding pass, look no further than the example of former Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott who recently made headlines when his information held by Qantas was ‘hacked’.

What was hacked from Tony Abbott?

The short answer is nothing; the hacker did not steal or use the information in a malicious manner. The point of the ‘hacking’ was to highlight security flaws in Qantas’ system.

From a simple Instagram post showing the boarding pass & a baggage receipt in full, the hacker accessed Mr Abbott’s Qantas booking and within 45 minutes accessed HTML code which included his passport number, contact details, internal airline notes among other things.

While no major incident occurred in this example, the ease of a security breach of a prominent Australian should definitely make you want to pay attention to your own personal data.

Tony Abbott hacked: Former PM's massive boarding pass mistake
This simple Instagram photo from the former Australian Prime Minister has caused a massive security stir
(source: news.com.au – original Instagram post since deleted)

What’s the one reason not to post boarding passes online?

When making an airline reservation, you need to provide your airline or travel agent sensitive information that is required for your booking. Some information is required for government agencies for pre-screening of passengers prior to departure & arrival between countries, and other information makes your journey more comfortable.

In the wrong hands, criminals can use this basic information as a way to have you fall victim to identity theft.

Airlines and travel agents have strong data protections and laws in place keeping your personal data safe. However by posting your boarding pass online, you are virtually volunteering the data which savvy hackers use to find keys to your sensitive information. Some airlines require as little information as a booking number and a surname to view the reservation online, both details found on all boarding passes.

What information could be obtained from your boarding pass?

For a basic international airline reservation you will likely be providing most of the following, before your tickets can be issued:

  • Full name
  • Date of birth
  • Gender
  • Email address
  • Passport number & expiry
  • Residential address

Does the required information look familiar to you? These are questions asked in most applications to sign up for new services and ‘forgotten password’ forms. Should an unauthorised person gain access to this information, there is nothing stopping them from attempting to use your information as a basis for illegal activity under your name nearly anywhere.

For those who have travelled regularly, you may also know that airlines often collect other information to make your journey more comfortable, such as:

  • Frequent flyer number & status
  • Special dietary requirements
  • Seating requests
  • Additional baggage
  • Special baggage (e.g sports equipment or dangerous goods)

To be honest, I wouldn’t want this information in the hands of my friends in fear they will try and put me in a middle seat or change my flight, let alone someone wanting to use and experiment with this information for malicious purposes.

What’s the best way to protect information when posting on social media?

The easiest way to do this is to ensure you’re not including any material that may give away any unique booking details full stop. If you’re not sure what to post, stick to selfies!

If you are feeling a little artsy and just need to post something, just leave out the boarding pass. Perhaps take one of the departure board, or one of the aircraft parked at the gate or if you’re at Singapore’s Changi Airport, take One Flying Lap like I did!

Final words

During the times of the COVID-19 pandemic, many of us aren’t flying anywhere at the moment; but when you do take to the sky again there’s simply no need to post a snap of that data rich piece of paper! If your need inspiration, Caroline at breaks.com has 10 tips for taking great travel pictures.

What do you share to social media prior to your travels? Do you share at all?
Let me know in the comments below!

Feature photo by Fidel Fernando on Unsplash