Usually meaning…when are the cheapest flights to Australia?
For somewhere to start my blog about Australia, then I thought was no better opener than my advice on how and when to get there.
What I have asked are in fact two very, very different questions – “when is the best time to visit?” is NOT the same as “when is the cheapest time to fly or visit?” (although if your wallet is your main concern, then arguably the two may be the very same question of course!).
Firstly – I have to be very diplomatic, and probably a bit cheesy, and say – there is no ‘wrong’ time to go to Australia – there is only going to the wrong part for the weather you don’t like – or the crowds you want to avoid or bump into at certain times of the year.
Now if you aren’t up on Antipodean weather, you might assume that our Summer is their Winter and vice versa – which is of course true for half the country (the bottom half), but the top half of Australia is actually better climate-wise to visit in the Summer (here), as this is much more bearable (rather than the VERY hot and tropical winter). Are you confused yet? Essentially, as the country is so big, then you will always be able to find some great ‘Aussie’ sunny weather whatever time of year you go but think north for our summer and south for our winter. Or in the ‘mid’ seasons stick to the middle band of the country.
In terms of booking flights to Australia then here is my advice on that:
We have flown both Emirates and Singapore Airlines (several times each). We tend not to go for the ‘cheapest’ deals on offer from travel agents (usually about £20-50 cheaper but sometimes even £100+ less each), as they tend to be with lesser quality airlines, and also you get routed all over the place and sometimes have to have a compulsory overnight somewhere you don’t want (e.g. with China Eastern will be Taiwan, and with Eva Air be Taepei, JAL will be Japan etc). Of course you may want these stopovers, but personally I prefer to choose my stopovers and you need to stick with airlines with bigger networks for that.
Singapore Airlines are great if you don’t mind a long flight — as it’s 12-13 hours in one go to Singapore first, and then around 5 or 7 hours after (Perth or Sydney respectively).
We like Emirates too, as you can opt to fly in 3 x 7 hour flights: London-Dubai, Dubai to Bangkok/Singapore (depending on your destination in Australia), then onto Australia. This at least means you get to stretch your legs and have a proper toilet stop for an hour or so at decent airports a couple of times on the way.
What you have to remember is that you are on the flight for a VERY long time, and any economising of £20-50, even £100 for a ‘deal’ on a not-so-good airline and you will be kicking yourself (or you would if you had enough leg room!) for when you are on old plane without good entertainment and poor service, long re-routes, questionable food etc…
If you want to have a read of other people’s opinions of other airlines, then take a look at the Skytrax Airline Quality web site. However, like other ‘review’ sites, you can read yourself round in circles with these sites sometimes as one person’s ideal is another’s nightmare! And yes, I realise the irony of this as I am dispensing advice too, but I hope I am spelling out my likes and dislikes enough to help form a clear opinion!
Like I say, we have always flown Singapore and Emirates, but I have heard good things about Qantas and Malaysian too for great for service, routes and leg room.
So how much are flights to Australia? (and when are the cheapest flights to Australia!)
The cheapest I have ever seen for return flights to Australia is around £500 – however these were not in ‘peak’ season, and were with the (very) less direct airlines. There are quite regularly ‘deals’ advertised for £5something, but as previously mentioned these are likely to be with Chinese or other Asian based airlines. For example, at the moment you can fly with either Asiana Airlines for £589 to Sydney, or China Eastern to Sydney (£599) or for £2 less to Melbourne (£597).
Compare these current deals (for flights during November 2007) with say Qantas, Emirates or Malaysian and you are looking at around £100 more to fly. Still very good fares though… November is a very good time to travel to Australia for cheap fares – plus if you want to see the southern cites and states (in Perth, Adelaide, Melbourne and Sydney it is Spring moving into summer, so the weather is usually pretty great).
The only time in the year that I can say is consistently cheapest to fly with most airlines to Australia is mid April to June. Nearly every airline will have its cheapest fares of the year available from mid-April to mid- or late-June. And this isn’t a bad time to go… we went this year in April/May and only paid £6something for Emirates flights (booked at short notice).
A great place to see in one go all the latest flight offers to Australia, with clear date ranges and what difference this makes to the price, is the Travelmood website.
Travelmood www.travelmood.com are quite often the cheapest agents to book with too – although is always worth having a ring/web search round of Austravel www.austravel.com, Travelbag www.travelbag.co.uk, and Trailfinders www.trailfinders.com I find (and a quick www.travelsupermarket.com comparison), and a squizz on www.cheapflights.co.uk too, as different agencies get different deals with different airlines (one might be cheaper for Emirates and another for Singapore for example). For our last trip, Travelbag had the best price, but recent research puts Travelmood as cheapest (for Emirates)… I am not overly loyal when it means saving a few ££ for the same flight!
Here’s my advice for planning your flights to Australia:
- Decide when you want to go – use the Travelmood comparison to get an idea of the cheaper and more expensive ‘dates’ in the year.
- Call one agency (tip – pick one with a callback option or a freephone 0800 number!) and get prices/availability of the airline you prefer (think about routing/stopovers and timings)
- Check online and/or call 1 or 2 more agencies to compare the price of the flight you have chosen.
- Book flight!
When should I book my flights to Australia?
I would try and book in advance as much as you can if you have certain dates in mind. The deals may get a bit better (maybe £50 less), but then the dates are limited etc. The cheapest we have ever paid is £6something (at less than a month’s notice!). So anything for £6something is a good fare (most we’ve paid is nearly £800 and that was for December – booked 10 months in advance!). For some of the deals you will see, you have to book by a certain day/date, but others are just the fares for that time – always look at what the * and ** and # mean next to the prices on all adverts!
Where should I fly into and out of in Australia?
This all depends on where you want to go and what you want to see…of course!
One thing to bear in mind is that you can always book an ‘open-jaw’ flight to save on to-ing and fro-ing when you get to Australia i.e. you fly into one airport and out another (for this just add to 2 fares together and divide). So you could fly into Sydney and out of Melbourne for example.
Don’t worry too much about your direction of internal travel, as there are lots of low-cost internal flights you can catch, but do remember that Australia is a HUGE country, so don’t plan a whistle stop tour as you will spend a lot of time on domestic flights/in the car/on a bus/on a train etc…
That said, you don’t need to fly into or out of Sydney to get to Sydney on your trip, for example. It might be worth considering other airports near places you want to visit on your trip as your ‘gateways’ – perhaps fly into Melbourne and out of Brisbane and visit Sydney en route in between?
More about itinerary planning another day… I think my first post is already long enough 😉