Flying in Australia
With limited time on your adventure Downunder, flying is the fastest and usually, the least expensive way to travel throughout the country. Planning your adventure before you buy your flights to Australia can save money.
Other than Qantas and Virgin Australia, airlines that fly non-stop to Australia from the United States do not fly within Australia. If you fly to Australia on United, Delta, American or Hawaiian, you’ll pay higher fares if you want to fly to other regions in the country.
Both Qantas and Virgin offer discounted domestic (within Australia) flights – and even flights to and within New Zealand – when included on your international ticket.
That means savings for you!
Consider where you want to visit in Australia – and New Zealand – before buying your tickets.
You’ll find many destinations within Australia, outside the major tourist hot-spots of Sydney, Brisbane, Cairns, Melbourne and Perth, are serviced by few flights. Qantas, which also operates QantasLink, its regional airline and Jetstar, its low-cost subsidiary, has long dominated the market for flights within Australia.
Virgin Australia has been expanding its destinations, fleet, and in-flight services to compete with Qantas. Virgin now offers flights to most major destinations within Australia – and through its partnerships with Air New Zealand, offers many options for including flights in New Zealand with those in Australia.
Other choices for domestic flights within Australia are limited to Tiger, a discount airline that had a rough start with its initial entry into Australia, and regional airlines that service the more exotic destinations and smaller airports.
Save with Add-on Flights to Australia
You may have to fly to Los Angeles to connect to your non-stop flight to Australia. If you’re thinking you’ll save money by buying a separate round-trip ticket on a “discount” airline from your home airport to LAX, you may find that the “add-on” fare for connecting flights on your international ticket will be less than a separate ticket.
Qantas offers connecting flights from many airports in the US and Canada through its code-share agreements with American Airlines and Air Canada. Virgin Australia offers most connecting flights from US airports on Delta. Depending on your home airport and the availability of connecting flights, the additional cost of an add-on flight can be less than $300.
And as an added benefit, the checked luggage rules for your international flight apply to the connecting flight when both are on the same ticket. If your international flight allows two pieces of complementary checked luggage, you’ll be able to check your luggage at your home airport – and pick it up in Australia, without additional fees. None of the hassle of claiming your luggage at LAX and carrying it over to the international terminal for your flight to Australia.
Checked Baggage Fees on Domestic Australian Flights
When purchasing airfare to Australia from the US and Canada on Qantas, travelers receive the added benefit of being able to check up to 2 pieces of luggage on every Qantas or QantasLink domestic flight at no additional charge.
If your international flight to Australia is on a different airline, you will be limited to one complementary checked bag on domestic Qantas flights. If your flight itinerary includes flights within Australia on Jetstar, you’ll have to pay additional fees for a second checked bag – regardless of your international carrier.
Virgin Australia currently allows one complementary checked bag with an economy class flight to Australia. This allowance applies to add-on flights from your home airport and all domestic flights in Australia and New Zealand when the flights are on the same ticket. Higher complementary checked luggage allowances apply to Business Class tickets.
ETA Visa Requirements
If you are traveling with a US or Canadian passport, you must apply for an Australian ETA Visa before departing for Australia. Application is made directly to the ETA office on-line and approval is usually instantaneous. The fee is $20 AUD.
Apply for your Visa at least a month in advance of your travel – if your application is denied, you will be required to forward supporting information to the Australian Embassy.
New Zealand, Tahiti and Fiji do not require visas for vacationers traveling with a US passport.