If you are planning a trip to Australia then there are plenty options on offer but in order to make the best of them it is vital to plan properly and as far ahead as possible. In particular, there are wide variations in cost depending on the time of year and even when you book your flight. Some airlines are considerable cheaper than others and you might also be able to save money by choosing an alternative airport destination for your initial arrival into Australia.
There are plenty of guides to choosing the best airline – for instance there is this one at the Avanti Travel Insurance Blog. Generally the cheapest tickets will be available for those on airlines using indirect routes. For instance routes via China on China Eastern (via Shanghai) and China Southern (via Guangzhou), via Korea on Asiana Airlines (via Seoul) and Korean (via Seoul), and via Brunei on Royal Brunei. Although the journey times may be a little longer than the fastest routes, they do have the benefits of some interesting stopovers. These airlines are usually bookable through specialist travel agents direct rather than through the usual flight websites. In fact you will almost certainly get the best value ticket through an agent rather than via an airline, and agents often can put together very attractive package deals.
The cheapest time to flow to Australia is from mid April until late June when it is late autumn/early winter down under. This may not suit unless you are headed to the northern parts of Australia. Both school holidays and the period up to Christmas are expensive, however, flying over Christmas Day or New Year’s Eve can offer good deals.
It is the date of the outbound flight that determines the fare, so any flexibility can mean big savings. At any time of year, midweek departures tend to be less in demand so can provide cost savings.
Usually, it pays to book as far in advance as possible, as long as a year ahead for the peak times. It is, however, keeping an eye out for some of the regular flight sales – you can usually get details of these by signing up to relevant airlines (e.g. BA and Qantas) and travel agents (e.g.Trailfinders). Many of these sales are advertised, for instance, at the beginning of January.
If you plan to travel around Australia, you might consider using an ‘open-jaw’ ticket which allows you to arrive at a different Australian airport to which you depart. This can work really well in conjuction with an internal air pass. Internal airpasses, can save on the cost of local flights. If you fly from London with Qantas, for example, you can get a Walkabout Pass, which allows you to book cheap fares for flights within Australia and which can help you marry up some internal destinations that are usually expensive to fly to – Ayers Rock , for example. Virgin Australia also has an air pass, which is bookable if you fly in on a ticket based on Virgin Atlantic, Delta, Etihad, New Zealand or Singapore Airlines flights. There are other options too – the key thing is to ask about them before booking your international flights rather than after. There is fierce domestic airline competition, including Qantas, Jetstar, Virgin Australia and Tigerair, so check before committing.