Getting to Australia
Visitors planning to travel from all parts of the world to Australia are headed to a memorable destination… there truly is “Nothing Like Australia”. The following general information is offered as a starting point for planning, though individual itineraries will naturally be influenced by the specific point of departure, the intended number and location of multiple stopovers within Australia, and the particular season. Good travel advice from specialists who have visited Australia is worthy of accessing in addition to this overview.
From Europe and United Kingdom
Due to the distance involved, flights from Europe will make a refuelling stop enroute to Australia. Primary transit points include Singapore, Abu Dhabi, Dubai or Hong Kong. Other connecting points include Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur, Seoul, Hanoi or Tokyo while holiday routings may include stopovers with direct inbound service to Australia from Phuket or Bali.
Major full-service airlines serving Australia from Europe include Qantas, V-Australia, Singapore Air, British Airways, Emirates, Etihad, Cathay Pacific, and Virgin Atlantic. Others with service to Australia from Europe include Asiana, Japan Airlines, Malaysia, Air France and Air Austral. Budget carriers connecting from stopover gateways include Jetstar, Tiger Airways, and Asia Airways.
Arrival cities in Australia include Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, Perth, Brisbane, Darwin and Cairns. In Adelaide, Melbourne and Darwin, the international arrivals hall is co-located in the same terminal building with domestic departures, whereas Sydney, Perth and Brisbane have the international and domestic terminals in separate buildings with frequent ground transit between the two.
While the number of potential combinations of routings from Europe to Australia is substantial, perhaps the most popular would include flying Qantas from London via Dubai to Sydney, or Emirates from many European airports connecting in Dubai and onward to Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, Brisbane or Perth. Likewise Etihad from across Europe to Australia via Abu Dhabi and with connecting service on their own aircraft or via partner Virgin Australia, British Airways via Bangkok or Singapore to Sydney or Melbourne, or Singapore Air from ten major European cities via Singapore to all of Australia’s capital cities.
Depending on your starting location, your preferred airline international alliance partners (such as OneWorld or StarAlliance) and whether you are seeking minimal travel time or will be making a holiday stop enroute, there will be a wide array of combinations of carriers and routings that will make the trip to Australia an enjoyable journey. Travel time from London to Sydney is typically around 22 hours, and many airlines offer attractive package plans for a one-night stopover in their main transit hub city.
From North America
Flights from the United States and Canada to Australia are non-stop from the west coast of North America to the east coast of Australia. While the most frequent services operate between Los Angeles and Sydney (five airlines with more than 45 flights per week), excellent services from San Francisco, Vancouver and Honolulu are sometimes preferred as the outbound departure terminals at these airports are less hectic than at the Los Angeles airport. Most flights operate overnight, departing in the evening and arriving early morning two days later as all routings cross the international date line.
Qantas has a non-stop service departing Dallas Ft. Worth airport to Sydney. This makes a particularly appealing routing for visitors starting in the central and eastern sections of the USA due to convenient connecting flights to the Qantas partner hub at DFW airport.
Primary air carriers across the Pacific Ocean to Australia from the west coast of the USA include Qantas, V-Australia, American Airlines, United and Delta. From Honolulu, choices include Qantas, JetStar and Hawaiian Airlines, while from Vancouver, Air Canada has a daily nonstop. Flights with stopovers include routings via Auckland on Air New Zealand, Fiji on Air Pacific, or via Tahiti on Air Tahiti Nui.
The introduction of additional competition on the trans-Pacific corridor in the form of V-Australia and Delta in 2009 has resulted in substantial reductions in fares, particularly for business class travel. Visitors who may have passed over the opportunity to fly in a lie-flat bed for the 14-hour overnight flight in the past due to high cost are advised to research the current prices for this type of premium long-haul travel.
Given that Australia is effectively in the same time-zones as eastern and southern Asian cities, the potential impact of jet-lag for travellers from these locations to Australia may be less than those crossing multiple time-zones from Europe or North America. Non-stop services to Australia originate in Tokyo, Osaka, Seoul, Beijing, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Taipei, Saigon, Kuala Lumpur, Jakarta and Singapore. Flying times are typically 6 hours from Singapore and 10 hours from Tokyo, with durations from other cities averaging about 8 hours. Flights that leave about midnight arrive in Australia early the next morning.
Airlines serving Australia from Asia include major carriers such as Cathay Pacific, Singapore Airlines, Malaysia Airlines, Qantas, Korean Airlines, Asiana and Japan Airlines. Others include Silk Air (regional wing of Singapore Airlines), Vietnam Airlines, Garuda Indonesian, China Southern, JetStar, China Air,Evergreen, and a host of low-cost carriers who are beginning to replicate the phenomenon of pared-back service that has changed the face of aviation in Europe in the past decade.
While the predominant Asia to Australia air routing involves arrival at Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane or Cairns airports, increasingly Asia-based travellers seeking direct connections to the Luxury Lodges of Australia based in South Australia, Northern Territory or Western Australia will fly non-stop from Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur or Singapore to Adelaide, Darwin or Perth.
Service from most cities in the Indian subcontinent include transit through Singapore or Kuala Lumpur, while the traveling public from China will increasingly find new travel routings to Australia to augment the current Hong Kong, Shanghai or Beijing transit points. Holiday package flights from several Japanese cities to the warm shores of eastern Australia (such as the Coolangatta airport at the Gold Coast an hour south of Brisbane) are another alternative transport option.
From South America
Travel to Australia from South America generally involves connecting via Santiago or Buenos Aires to the east coast of Australia. LAN, Aerolineas Argentinas and Qantas are the primary carriers across the southern Pacific Ocean, while Air New Zealand offers an alternative with a connection in Auckland.
From the South Pacific
Travel from the island nations of the South Pacific to Australia is easily accomplished with frequent non-stop departures from Manila, Nadi, Papeete, Port Moresby, the Cook Islands and many more. Flights into Cairns and Brisbane are as plentiful as those direct to Sydney. Carriers on these routes tend to be the international flagship airline of their respective country.
From New Zealand
Residents of New Zealand are Australia’s most frequent international visitors, with a shared culture and relatively close proximity. Crossing the Tasman Sea is a 2-3 hour hop, with services from most major New Zealand cities direct to a range of Australian inbound cities including Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Adelaide.
The expansion from two carriers (Qantas and Air New Zealand) to four carriers (including Jetstar and Pacific Blue) has meant substantial new routings and lower prices.
Travel from the countries in the middle and south of Africa to Australia generally means a transfer at Johannesburg airport and a non-stop flight to Perth, Melbourne or Sydney. This corridor is served by Qantas and South African Airways.
Routing from Cape Town or Johannesburg via Singapore or Dubai is an alternative and expands the Australian arrival city choices to include Adelaide, Darwin and Brisbane.
From northern Africa, most travel arrangements will include transit through Casablanca or Cairo to Dubai, Abu Dhabi or Singapore, with a second connection onwards to most of the capitol cities of Australia.
From the Middle East
With the advent of both Dubai and Abu Dhabi as major east-west transit hubs, frequent service to much of Australia is offered from these two cities on Emirates and Etihad airlines respectively. Emirates offers the popular Airbus A-380 on many of its services to Sydney and Melbourne. A new partnership between Virgin Group Australia and Etihad suggests a future robust network of routes from throughout Europe, Africa and the Middle East connecting via Abu Dhabi into Australia with domestic connections in Australia by Virgin Australia.