This is part of a series of blog entries on how to get to countries and places. Here is a link to the index. I plan to eventually cover every country and some other places. If you have a request for a particular country or place please use the contact me link at top right, or leave a comment.
There are some cruises across the Pacific, but given the distance and time involved most visitors fly. Lots of airlines fly to Australia, including the following (mostly to Sydney except where noted):
- Star Alliance - Air Canada (from Vancouver), Air China (to Sydney and Melbourne), Air New Zealand (to Cairns, Brisbane, Gold Coast, Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, Perth), Continental (Guam to Cairns), Singapore Airlines (to Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth), South African (to Perth only Sydney is a codeshare on Qantas), Thai (to Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne and Perth), United (to Sydney and Melbourne)
- Oneworld - British Airways (from London via Bangkok/Singapore), Cathay Pacific (to Cairns, Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth), Japan Airlines (to Cairns, Brisbane, Sydney), Qantas (note subsidiary Jetstar is not Oneworld)
- Sky Team - China Southern (to Sydney and Melbourne), Korean (from Seoul) and Delta (from Los Angeles)
- selected non-alliance airlines - Emirates (to Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne and Perth), Virgin Atlantic (from London via Hong Kong), Malaysian (to Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne and Perth)
As many routes have just 2 or 3 airlines competing, and with some barriers to expanding capacity, it is generally expensive to fly to Australia and very expensive in business or first class. Flights from Asia (or indeed from New Zealand) are much less expensive with much more competition.
In 2009 there are 2 new entrants on the US to Australia route, V Australia (subsidiary of Virgin Blue) and Delta.
TIP book awards as early as possible, especially to/from North or South America. These seats often go within a few days of being released.
TIP if paying for economy class and your travel dates are flexible, keep an eye out for sale fare wars which break out a couple of times a year.
TIP indirect routings and flights on less well known airlines are sometimes much cheaper, eg from USA to Australia via Japan on American and Qantas or Japan Airlines, from London to Australia on Air NZ or on Royal Brunei or on Malaysian.
TIP check awards and fares to New Zealand. It is cheap and easy to get from New Zealand to Australia on a separate ticket. Or in the other direction, instead of a longhaul ticket from Australia consider a ticket to NZ and another to the longhaul destination to take advantage of lower fares (depending on airline a stopover in Australia may also be allowed for further value).
TIP similarly check awards and fares to southeast Asia. There are a number of low cost airlines (eg Air Asia X, Tiger, jetstar) flying between southeast Asia and Australia, and even the major carriers have relatively low fares as a result of the competition.
TIP Australia is of mixed value on around the world tickets due to distances involved and need for back-tracking. No one alliance has the whole region well covered.
UPDATED November 2009 - Continental switch from Sky Team to Star Alliance. No change to advice.