Getting to Australia
Flights and vacation packages to Australia
The simplest way Down Under is to fly the Australian national airline, Qantas (www.qantas.com).
This is not only because it has the most flights to Australia and is a member of the OneWorld alliance (so you can book the same flights via American Airlines and shovel the scads upon scads of miles you'll rack up right into your AA frequent flier account), but also because Qantas offers a stupendous value in the form of the Walkabout Pass.
This pass is described in full in the Getting Around section, but in brief: you get transpacific airfare from the U.S. plus up to three internal flights within Australia starting at just $999 (which, frankly, is barely more than the cheapest transpacific ticket by itself).
Just about the cheapest airfare you're going to find is around $850 from Los Angeles, up to $350 more from other U.S. gateways. And Qantas isn't the only game in town, either, so shop around.
There are also direct flights to Australia on United, US Airways, American Airlines, and Air New Zealand, which is why it's best to do a quick price comparison on a search engine such as Momondo.com or Orbitz.com.
Tours and Vacation Packages to Australia
Sometimes it pays to book your airfare and lodging—or air, hotels, and rental cars or train tickets—together in one "packaged vacation." This is not a tour; it is just a way to get those big-ticket items at a discount.
In fact, some packages include airfare ad a week of hotel stays and yet somehow actually cost the same as, or less than, airfare alone would be (because the packager is getting the plane tickets and the rooms at a discounted bulk rate you, as an individual traveler, cannot match).
Here are some packagers for Australia:
- Go-Today.com (www.go-today.com)
- Gate1 Travel (www.gate1travel.com)
- Qantas Vacations (www.qantasvacations.com)
- Swain Tours (www.swaintours.com)