A Drop in Australian Summer Fares

Tracy Stewart, January 05, 2009
Fares from Washington DC:

    Flights from the US to Australia are about as cheap as they are short. Which is to say, not very. Sure, from the west coast there comes the occasional tossed bone, such as that pre-Halloween $500+ round-trip (taxes and everything) fare from Los Angeles to Sydney. A rarity, even for west coast departures. And what about from the east? Typically, you're lucky to find $900+ round-trips during off season. Sometimes a smidgen better, but that's really pushing it. Ah, but now it's summer in Australia and fares aren't nearly as cheap. Or at least they weren't when we began our search for affordable tix back in late November. From New York to Sydney, for travel in February, the best fares we saw ranged from $1,700 to almost $3,000 round-trip. Gulp. For about $1,689 less, we figured we'd settle on seeing Australia the movie instead. Ugh.

    Well, good news! A. We did make it to the movies, but we saw Milk, and B. Fares to Australia have come down considerably since November. The same February dates we were searching back in November now fetch fares of $1,285 round-trip on United and $1,310 on Qantas. Why the sudden drop? Well, could be that little matter of the economy being in the toi-let. It might also be that Qantas and United are feeling the heat from the competition, what with Delta and V Australia set to begin service between Los Angeles and Sydney this year. Another option, and the one we found to be the best: Jetstar Airways, a subsidiary of Qantas, flying between Honolulu and Sydney. As you may have noticed, fares to Honolulu are also down quite a bitSo we booked a flight from New York to Honolulu, and onward to Sydney (padded with two days of valuable mai-tai drinking leg-stretching time, obvs.), bringing our total ticket to just under $1,200. So, yay! Not only do we get to cheat New York winter by a couple of weeks, but we get to do it for less.

    Oh, just one thing: Should you also consider booking on Jetstar, just be warned that everything is a la carte. By that, we mean you'll be paying for bags exceeding 20kg, you'll pay for food, there'll be no complimentary pony can of grape Shasta, no biscotti, no freebies, no nothing. You could feign choking and see if anyone offers you a sip of something, but again -no promises. But hey! Who cares? You'll be malnourished and dehydrated in Sydney!