The arrival halls of Australian airports were full of emotional reunions on Monday, as grandparents met their grandchildren for the first time, friends were reunited and parents embraced their children after a year of separation as the trans-Tasman bubble officially launched.
For the first time since March last year, New Zealanders and Australians are able to freely travel between the two countries without the need for hotel quarantine.
Resembling a scene from Love Actually, emotions were running high as families reunited at the arrival gates in Melbourne.
Young mum Alicia Vermeulen said she hadn’t seen her parents since September 2019, and today was the first time they will meet six-week-old granddaughter, Summer.
“I’m just so happy,” said an emotional Ms Vermeulen.
Chris Smyth said while border closures had been “frustrating”, the wait had been worth it to meet his granddaughter for the first time.
Stacey Rodgers said “Facetime just wasn’t the same”, as she waited at Tullamarine to greet her mum Christina Cassin from Wellington.
Ms Cassin said she had booked a ticket “as soon as she knew” the bubble was opening, so she could meet her new grandson, Wolfe.
Mother and daughter Ali Boyd and Kirsty Bradshaw burst into tears as they embraced each other for the first time in more than two years.
“As the Prime Minister announced the bubble on TV I was booking a ticket,” Ms Bradshaw said.
“We’ve been waiting so long.”
Qantas CEO Alan Joyce was at Sydney Airport on Monday morning, and said it had been a “momentous occasion”.
“The opening of the two-way travel bubble is fantastic for family and friends who are reuniting after so long apart and for the many jobs which are heavily dependent on tourism,” he said.
“It means we’ll be able to get more planes back in the sky and more of our people back to work.”
Since the bubble was announced, Qantas has noticed a “strong surge in demand” for trans-Tasman routes, Mr Joyce said.
“Tens of thousands of bookings (were) made in the first few days”,” he said.