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My daughter is scheduled to take a flight from Colombia to Melbourne Australia transiting the US (Miami) - the whole route is booked with a single carrier - American Airlines. For US and Australia she needs a negative RAT test in last 24 hours. But her flight (AA 1130) is significantly delayed meaning the test will still be in the 24 for entry to the US but will be outside the 24 for entry to Australia.
Does she need to redo the COVID test?

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  • Delayed or rescheduled with prior notice?
    – xngtng
    Apr 4 at 17:16
  • The flight listed is currently "delayed" ~12 hours. It has not been "rescheduled" (as per the way that the Australian government has used these two terms)
    – Doc
    Apr 4 at 17:34
  • For what it's worth, I entered SYD from AKL and my test was bang on 24hrs before the scheduled flight time (which was delayed by half an hour but with no announcement). I remember overhearing a discussion between other passengers who I assume we're in a similar (or worse) position time-wise, one mentioned that they'd checked the rules and that they'd be fine. The alternative sure would be a tough optimisation problem for any traveler! Apr 5 at 3:03
  • @xngtng there has been a lot of bad weather in all of Florida (including Miami). Hundreds, if not thousands, of flights have been weather delayed.
    – FreeMan
    Apr 5 at 14:18

2 Answers 2

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The Australia incoming-traveler testing deadline may be extended, depending upon whether the flight to Australia was "delayed," or "re-scheduled or cancelled."

The general rule is presented in The Australian government "Traveling to Australia" page. This page says:

Undertake a pre-departure COVID-19 test

A negative COVID-19 test result is required for travelling to Australia. Evidence of a negative COVID-19 PCR test taken within 3 days or RAT taken within 24 hours of your flight’s scheduled departure must be provided to your airline when you check-in for your flight.

Information about COVID-19 test requirements, what to do if your PCR or RAT test result is positive when you have already had and recovered from COVID-19, and if you are unable to be vaccinated for medical reasons for pre-departure testing is available on the Department of Health website. You should also check for any airline, departure or transit country testing requirements.

The Australian goverment's Department of Health website referenced above, however, contains this text that allows some deadline flexibility:

Delayed and rescheduled flights

If your flight has been delayed outside the 3 day window for a NAA test or 24 hours for a RAT test, you do not need to have a new test.

If your flight has been re-scheduled or cancelled, you do need to have a new test, done within the appropriate time frame before the rescheduled or newly booked flight is scheduled to depart.

The question says the flight from Colmbia to Miami was delayed. The question does not specify if the traveler's flight to Australia was "delayed" or whether the traveler was rebooked on a later flight. I think the language of the Department of Health website refers to the flight to Australia, not the earlier flight that delivers the traveler to a transit in the US.

Thus, if the traveler was rebooked on a later flight from MIA > MEL, then the traveler should obtain a new test.

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    The problem is that the flight to Australia was NOT delayed - it was the fight to Miami. The passenger will have been moved to a different flight to Australia, which fits far more into the "rescheduled" category than delayed - although it's really up to the interpretation of the AA staff so it could go either way...
    – Doc
    Apr 4 at 17:32
  • @Doc Thanks, I didn't see that. Hmm. I think you're right, and will amend the answer. Apr 4 at 17:35
  • @DavidSupportsMonica Thanks - I agree that re-scheduled is ambiguous - as the first leg is delayed which results in a second leg re-schedule. I've posted another answer below based on another link I found - do you think that is more definitive?
    – Ricibob
    Apr 4 at 18:07
  • @Ricibob To me, "rescheduled" isn't ambiguous - rescheduling is where the airline changes the flight schedule for weather or operational or market reasons. That isn't what's going on here. See my comment after your answer. Apr 4 at 18:16
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    @Ricibob Confusion is certainly possible. I construe the Health Dept document as presenting the general case first, followed by exceptions. So I think the most likely interpretation is that the latter wording about rescheduling and cancellation requiring a new test will prevail. Report back tell us what was done, and what happened. Apr 4 at 19:25
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The same site (as DavidSupportsMonica's answer: https://www.health.gov.au/health-alerts/covid-19/international-travel/inbound#predeparture-testing) has a "pre-departure testing" section that says:

The RAT must be done no more than 24 hours before the scheduled departure time of your flight, (or first flight if you have one or more connecting flights booked for your travel to Australia).

Which seems to imply she is OK as the test is still within 24 hours of the actual and scheduled departure time of the first flight of one or more connecting flights.

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    This appears to be incorrect. Further down on the same Department of Health page, the text says "If your flight has been re-scheduled or cancelled, you do need to have a new test, done within the appropriate time frame before the rescheduled or newly booked flight is scheduled to depart." Here, the traveler will be rebooked on a different flight to Australia , while the flight to Australia has not itself been rescheduled. Apr 4 at 18:13
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    I suspect this is actually the right answer - at least based on the intent of the rules, but it's hard to be sure, and in particular hard to know how the airline (which is who is going the enforcement) might interpret it.
    – Doc
    Apr 4 at 18:24

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