NEWS
19/03/2020 10:11 PM AEDT | Updated 20/03/2020 10:00 AM AEDT

This Is What It Was Like Flying On One Of The Last Flights From LA To Sydney

“There were teams of hazmat-suit-wearing airport staff handing you corona info sheets as you stood out the aircraft door.”

Getty
Sydney man tells of panic getting out of LA.

Australians overseas have been racing to make their way home after the Department of Foreign Affairs issued a stern warning on Tuesday to come home now before it’s too late. On Friday, Australia will lock its borders to all non-citizens and residents at 9pm AEDT. 

These type of government announcements were weighing heavily on Sydney man Elliot Luxton’s mind as he scrambled to get out of Los Angeles on Wednesday just as Qantas and Virgin Australia announced they would cease all international flights this month. 

Luxton shared with HuffPost Australia what it was like on one of the last Virgin flights from LA to Sydney.  

“There were teams of hazmat-suit-wearing airport staff handing you corona info sheets as you stood out the aircraft door.” 

The atmosphere at LAX was strange, Luxton said, with next to no US citizens at the airport, just “foreigners trying to get home.”

Elliot Luxton
Luxton made it onto his flight at LAX after a cutting his time in the US short.

The crew on board his flight home was told Wednesday that this flight would be their last. 

“I was told each aircraft that leaves LA in the next day or so will be the last flight. They’re just flying to get their crews home from layovers all over the world.

In the US, President Donald Trump has enforced a 30-day travel ban between the US and Europe and places like LA have banned dining at restaurants, closed gyms and cinemas and put a limit on public gatherings of 9 people of more. 

“In the US I had new guidelines by the hour.  It went from groups of 150 to 100 to 50 to 9 over 48 hrs,” said Luxton.

As an Australian citizen, he now faces 14 days of isolation in his flat, a rule the Australian government rolled out this week for all international arrivals.  It’s understood when passengers land at the airport they are fully briefed about self-isolation and they must fill out paperwork. 

“I’m allowed to go for a walk around the block once a day and can go from home to my car and drive if I want but can’t get out of the car to get fuel or interact with the general public,” Luxton said.  

All Australians overseas who want to return home should do so immediately - the Department of Foreign Affairs has warned. 

REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
A hand sanitiser dispenser is seen at the empty international terminal at LAX airport in Los Angeles.

“As more countries close their borders or introduce travel restrictions, overseas travel is becoming more complex and difficult,” DFAT said of the disruption caused by the coronavirus.

“You may not be able to return to Australia when you had planned to.”

Australia has already urged citizens to refrain from going overseas by updating government travel advice to Level Four for every country in the world.  Level Four means do not travel. 

The updated advice was issued after Prime Minister Scott Morrison met with state and territory leaders to discuss strengthening restrictions on indoor public gatherings of 100 people or more.  

On Thursday Morrison said Australia will implement a travel ban on all non-residents and non-Australian citizens coming into the country.

The restrictions will be in place Friday evening at 9pm. 

“As more countries close their borders or introduce travel restrictions, overseas travel is becoming more complex and difficult,” DFAT said of the disruption caused by the coronavirus.

“You may not be able to return to Australia when you had planned to.”

Australia has already urged citizens to refrain from going overseas by updating government travel advice to Level Four for every country in the world.  Level Four means do not travel. 

The updated advice was issued after Prime Minister Scott Morrison met with state and territory leaders to discuss strengthening restrictions on indoor public gatherings of 100 people or more.  

On Thursday Morrison said Australia will implement a travel ban on all non-residents and non-Australian citizens coming into the country.

The restrictions will be in place Friday evening at 9pm.