Airline senior managers have been pressed into service at check-in desks and luggage lines as huge crowds continue to swamp Australian airports.
Some reports have said security staff at Sydney Airport have been offered $50 vouchers to backfill roles in the next two weeks.
Before 6am today, queues were already long at Sydney, though footage showed passengers being processed swiftly and efficiently.
At one stage traffic to the airport entrance was queued for a full kilometre, while queues for early flights stretched 100m out the door.
“It’s a nightmare. I have been doing this for decades. What is the issue? I don’t understand?” one passenger told 9News.
Sydney Airport staff have even been handing out bottles of water to people who have been waiting in line.
“As long as I get on the plane it is all good,” one traveler said.
Qantas is scrambling to find staff and even pilots for local and international flights.
Passengers at any airport are advised to arrive at least two hours before a domestic flight and three before an international one, as staffing shortages continue to bite.
Delays are expected to continue for weeks, particularly at Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane airports, as people take advantage of the first holiday break with open borders for two years.
“We’ve got staff from all over the airport triaging and putting out the issues as they arise, but the reality is we’re going to be dealing with this for a little bit longer,” Sydney Airport CEO Geoff Culbert said yesterday.
“The unfortunate reality is we are going to see queues over the rest of the school holidays.”
From 11.59pm last night, fully-vaccinated Australians are allowed to visit New Zealand without having to quarantine on arrival.
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They will still need to undergo a supervised RAT or PRC COVID-19 test.
New Zealand began opening its borders in late February, with the latest phase from today seeing non-citizens from eligible countries, such as Australia and the UK able to avoid isolation.
New Zealand has opened the border in time for the Easter school holidays and the Kiwi ski season, but anyone looking to make the trip over is likely to face a long wait at the airport.