Crowds in Canberra Airport are a seldom-seen sight this year, but the arrivals terminal was buzzing as some of the first Victorian passengers stepped out to waiting friends and family.
Monday marked the opening of the ACT and NSW borders to Victoria after four months of restricted travel.
It means for the first time since March every jurisdiction is open to travel with the ACT.
When Michael O'Dea was asked what he'd do when he saw his wife Wendy arrive at Canberra Airport, he said "Oh I'd give her a kiss".
After spotting her come down to the exit lounge, Mr O'Dea rushed over and did just that.
Tauseef and Usman Syed got on the first flight they could to see their grandchildren. Grandson Zidane Syed, 8, greeted them with hugs as he saw them for the first time since January.
Passenger Mary Delahunty said while Melbourne's almost vacant airport was surreal, the flight was a sign of things coming back to normal.
She said the mask-clad passengers were "smiling with their eyes" throughout the flight.
Ms Delahunty estimated there were about 80 passengers on board the Dash 8 plane which arrived on Monday afternoon.
She said she was thankful for the actions of Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews for sticking to his guns despite criticism.
Ms Delahunty travelled to Canberra to reunite with her daughter Olivia Rankin, who she had not seen in over six months.
"For the first time in my life I've been constrained from travelling," Ms Delahunty said.
"I do not take for granted the border being open."
Melburnian Karla Helbig booked the first flight she could get to visit her sister Julie Morosi in Canberra when the ACT government announced it would open the border weeks ago.
She hadn't made the trip for a year because of the pandemic, and after months of working from home and managing children learning remotely, the virologist was eager for a week of relaxation.
Fransiska spent the past three weeks in Melbourne visiting her partner, who she hadn't seen since the city was sent into lockdown as the state's second wave hit.
The Canberran had been prepared to undertake two weeks in quarantine on her return, but was lucky time was on her side and she could slide in after restrictions eased.
"I already applied for the permit to come back and [would have needed] to do two-weeks in isolation. A day or two later they were announcing they were going to ease the restrictions so I changed my flight," she said.
Airport head of aviation Michael Thompson said business was up to 22 per cent of pre-COVID levels, a far cry from the 2 per cent experienced at the height of restrictions.
He hoped another 45 new flights to take-off next week would help visitation hit 30 per cent by December with the aim of 40 per cent by Christmas.
Open borders have seen a significant lift in services, with 37 flights between Canberra and Melbourne to touch down this week compared with eight the week before.
One Melbourne woman had arrived in Canberra to surprise her partner who she hadn't seen since the state borders closed. She had meticulously planned the trip to keep him guessing and wanted to stay anonymous should the surprise be given away early.
For some the trip was a chance to reunite with friends and family, for others Canberra presented the perfect opportunity to side-step other jurisdiction's coronavirus rules.
Spencer McLaren and Makayla Bishop will spend the next two weeks in the ACT and surrounds before heading north to Queensland, in order to skip the quarantine they would have been forced into had they arrived from Melbourne.
ACT chief health officer Dr Kerryn Coleman thanked those who had sought exemptions and went into quarantine prior to the border reopening.
"Their actions helped protect the ACT community while Victoria worked on bringing their COVID second wave under control," she said.
Dr Coleman said ACT Health had processed 4722 exemption applications, including 1902 from ACT residents. Over 2500 people returning from Victoria quarantined in the ACT, with over 1600 of those travellers being ACT residents.
"We hope the lifting of travel restrictions with Victoria will give people the confidence to make plans, book holidays and reunite with family members in the lead-up to Christmas," Dr Coleman said.