Florida to Down Under

Tracy Stewart, January 12, 2010
Fares from Washington DC:

    Q. We are recent retirees we are planning our dream trip so don't want to mess it up. We want to travel from Tampa to Sydney, Australia in mid September of this year for 6 weeks. During the trip we are considering a 13-day cruise to New Zealand and the remaining 4 weeks traveling around Australia.

    We have a few questions that we need your help with.

    First, in your opinion, since it is months away, should we wait to book the flight, and or cruise, hoping for a better price or set both up now to secure them?

    Second, the most economical flights are currently similar in price on both American Airlines and Qantas. Do you know if either airline has an edge as far as comfort or service since it is such a long flight?

    A. You might consider breaking your trip up in Los Angeles or San Francisco for a couple of days rather than flying straight through. You might even find it’s cheaper to buy one fare, say, on Southwest from Tampa to the West Coast and then onward. Be sure to look at fares directly on Qantas.com for the flights to Australia, as they sometimes sell seats for less than you’ll find on third-party sites, and sign up for their emailed newsletters. There are frequent fare wars on the routes from California to Australia, so sign up for Airfarewatchdog or other fare alerts and jump when fares go down. I’d say that Qantas probably has the edge on service, so I’d fly with them. In order to get the best cabin location, I’d probably shop around and book the cruise portion earlier rather than later. Take a look at cruisecritic.com for some tips.

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