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General information on getting to Australia

The Australian continent is located in Oceania between the Indian Ocean and the South Pacific Ocean.

Australia has a large number of international airports. The busiest are Sydney and Melbourne. Perth also receives many flights from Asia and Europe and has direct connections to New Zealand and Africa. Other International Airports include Brisbane, Cairns, Darwin, Coolangatta (The Gold Coast), and Adelaide. Hobart (Tasmania) and some other airports do have limited international services, but ironically one place you can't arrive at directly from overseas is Canberra, the national capital. However, domestic services within Australia are generally good, and you can often get connections from most airports to meet up with your international flights.

Coming from Asia, Europe, or North America there are quite a number of competing airlines and a wide variety of air fares. It is best to check either online or for better service, go with you Travel Agent who can advise on the best deals available for when you want to travel. Unfortunately, the only thing you are not going to be able to avoid is those grueling distances.

Due to Australia's International popularity if you want to come here for the summer (Christmas time) you will need to book well in advance - flights are often heavily (if not completely) booked during peak seasons, and the best fares generally do get snapped up quite early.


Commercial Airlines

QANTAS

Access the Qantas website here to book flights and check timetables.
Booking Inquiries: Tel. 13 13 13 (Nationwide)
Flight arrival and Departure Information: Tel. 13 12 23

Offices

In Australia:
70 Hunter St., Sydney.
468 Oxford St., Bondi Junction.
387 Victoria Ave., Chatswood.
277 Church St., Parramatta.

In New Zealand:
191 Queen St., Auckland
Tel. (09) 357 8900

In the UK:
182 strand, London WC2 1ET
Tel. (01345) 74 77 67

In the USA:
Level 4, 841 Apollo St., El Segundo, Los Angeles.
Tel. 800 227 4500

In Canada:
Ste 1705, 1111 W Georgia St. Vancouver

In South Africa:
2nd floor, Grosvenor Corner, 195 Jan Smuts Ave., Parktown North, Johannesburg.
Tel. (011) 441 8550

AIR NEW ZEALAND

Offers flights to Australia, including the option of stopovers in New Zealand or the Pacific Islands.

Tel. 13 24 76

Offices:
5 Elizabeth St., Sydney: Tel. (02) 9223 4666
200 Queen St., Melbourne: Tel. (03) 9602 5900

In New Zealand:
Custom St., Auckland: Tel. (09) 336 24 24
Queen St., Auckland: Tel. (09) 336 24 24
Panama St., Wellington: Tel. (04) 474 89 50
Lambton Quay, Wellington: Tel. (04) 474 89 50

In the UK:
Tel. (020) 8741 2299

In Canada & the USA
Tel. 1800 62 67 47

BRITISH AIRWAYS

Flies from Europe to Australia.

Offices:
Level 21, AAP Centre, 259 George St., Sydney: Tel. (02) 8904 8844
Level 7, 114 Williams st Melbourne Tel. (03) 9603 1199

In the UK:
156 Regent St., London W1R 5TA Tel. (020) 7434 4700

In Ireland:
Tel. 1800 62 67 47

CATHAY PACIFIC

Connects major Australian Cities with Europe, Asia and North America.
Tel. 13 17 47

In the UK:
Tel. (0345) 58 15 81

In the USA:
Tel. 800 233 2742

In Canada:
Tel. 1800 268 6868

SOUTH AFRICAN AIRWAYS

Flies from South Africa to Perth and Sydney.

Offices:
9th floor, 5 Elizabeth St., Sydney: Tel. (02) 9223 4448
7th floor, 68 Georges Tce, Perth: Tel. (08) 9322 7388

In South Africa:
Tel. (011) 978 1111 (Johannesburg)

Plane Tickets

When buying Airline tickets it's recommended that you shop around - different websites and different travel agents can often quote you different prices. A travel agent can offer you a more personal service, and will have access to all sorts of special deals, particularly on competitive routes - watch the travel ads in the press.

What's available and what it costs depends on the time of year you are wanting to travel, the route you are flying, any stopovers you may want to include, and of course your destination.

Popular routes i.e. via Hong Kong or where the choice of flights is limited i.e. South America, might only have the official fare available.

Similarly, rule of thumb is that you often get what you pay for. The cheapest fares are likely to be less conveniently scheduled, go by a less convenient route, or with a less popular airline. Also, remember with budget carriers particularly that there are often hidden charges for things like baggage, meals, entertainment and other services that you may require - particularly on longer haul flights.

Round The World Tickets

Airline RTW tickets can often offer real bargains which are put together by a combination of airlines - they permit you to take any flight on their route system, including a number of "stopovers" on the way (long as you continue in the same direction around the globe and don't backtrack).

Since Australia is practically on the other side of the world from Europe or North America it can sometimes work out the same to keep traveling in the same direction as it costs to return.

Restrictions are:

  • You usually must book the first sector in advance therefore cancellation penalties apply.
  • The total number of stops you are allowed to make are limited.
  • The tickets are generally valid from 90 days up to a year.
  • Often cancellation fees and amendment fees will apply - and they can sometimes be quite hefty, so make sure you are aware of the rules before deciding to make a purchase.

Depending on your itinerary, an alternative to a RTW ticket can possibly be put together by your travel agent using a combination of discounted tickets from a number of airlines. Often the agent will know the secrets to maximising savings with complicated flight itineraries, so it can be well worth your time to sit down and have a chat with your travel expert.

Lastly, if you plan on travelling without travel insurance, you are an idiot. Apart from the obvious benefits of medical and emergency coverage, insurance will often cover you against cancellation fees, lost or stolen items, luggage, car rental excess and much more. Before you travel anywhere overseas, make sure: a) that you have travel insurance, and; b) that the policy you have taken out is adequate enough to cover you for the destination(s) you will be visiting.


Getting to Australia by ship

If you have the luxury of time to travel and a bit of cash to spare then you could consider travelling to (or from) Australia by ship. Cruising is an experience in itself,offering you a range of exotic itineraries along the way, with many ships offering great value cruise fares if booked well in advance.

Australia is an increasingly popular cruise destination, with many of the major cruise lines calling here during the peak cruising season (September/ October through to April). Cruise operators such as Holland America, Royal Caribbean, P&O, Princess Cruises, Cunard, Celebrity Cruises and other lines will either base their ships here for up to 6 months a year, or will have Australian ports of in their extended cruising itineraries.

Often longer cruises (such as "Round The World" voyages) are split into itineraries that can be booked in shorter "sector" voyages, allowing you the luxury of cruising to Australia in style without taking weeks and weeks to get here. Enquire with the cruise line or your travel agent regarding the latest cruise options and deals, or talk to our Personal Travel Manager at Cruise Around for expert advice and some great cruise deals.

Cruising On A Freighter:

Fords Travel Guides in the US:
Tel. (818) 701 7414
Fax. (818) 701 7415

19448 Londelius st, Northridge, CA 91324

Contact for The Freighter Travel Guide and Waterways of the World (US$16, plus $2.50 postage if mailed outside the US).

Supplies lists of freighter companies that will take passengers to Australia by boat.

Departing from many points in the US and arrive in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane.

The trip takes between 23 and 42 days one way and cost between US$81-108 per person per day.

You can also travel from many points in Europe (though a trip from Italy to Australia by sea takes 81 days).

Traveling to New Zealand, Papua New Guinea and Indonesia.

It is quite easy to make your way to these countries by hitching rides or crewing yachts. Ask around harbors, marinas, yacht or sailing clubs.  On the east coast ask anywhere boats call including Coffs Harbor, The Gold Coast, Airlie Beach/Whitsundays and Cairns.

A lot of boats move north to escape the winter, so April is a good time to look for a berth in the Sydney area.

Usually you chip in for food.

Glossary

Apex tickets: (Advance Purchase Excursion fare)

Usually these tickets are 30 to 40% cheaper than the full economy fare.

Restrictions:

  • The tickets must be purchased 21 days in advance.
  • The minimum period away is normally 14 days.
  • The maximum period away is 90 or 180 days.
  • Stopovers are not allowed.
  • Alterations in your destination/dates of travel will incur charges.
  • If you cancel your trip the refund is often considerably less than what you paid for the ticket. (Take out travel insurance to cover yourself in case you have to cancel unexpectedly)

Baggage Allowance:

This will be written on your ticket, you are usually allowed 20kgs to go in the hold and one piece of hand luggage (dimensions and weight are limited).

Bucket Shops:

At certain times of year and/or on certain routes many airlines fly with empty seats.

As it is more cost effective for them to fly full, even if it means having to sell a certain number of seats at drastically reduced prices the airlines off load tickets onto Bucket shops (UK) or Consolidators (USA), travel agents who specialize in discounted fares.

These tickets are generally the cheapest you will find.
You can't purchase them directly from the airlines.
Availability varies widely so you will have to be flexible in your travel plans.
Bucket shop agents advertise in newspapers and in magazines and there's lots of competition, especially in places like Amsterdam and London.

Bumped:

Just because you have confirmed a seat doesn't mean you're going to get on the plane. If you are late turning up you are likely to be refused your seat if the plane is full - see [overbooking] .

Cancellation Penalties:

If you have to cancel or change an Apex or other discount ticket, there may be heavy penalties (insurance can be taken). Some airlines impose penalties on regular tickets as well, particularly against 'no show' passengers.

Check in:

Airlines ask you to check in a certain time before the flight departure (usually 2 hours on international flights). If you fail to check in on time and the flight is overbooked, the airline can cancel your booking and give your seat to somebody else.

Confirmation:

The Travel agent has to confirm with the airline that your status is fine before your ticket is valid. Prior to this confirmation your status is on request.

Courier Fares:

Businesses often need to send urgent documents or freight securely and quickly. Courier companies hire people to accompany the package through customs and in return offer a (sometimes hugely) discounted ticket.

This is perfectly legal, but the drawbacks are:
Short ticket return time of the ticket - usually not longer than a month.
May have to give all your baggage allowance for the use of the courier company and be only allowed to take carry-on luggage.

Departure Tax:

There is a $27 departure tax when leaving Australia, this is incorporated into your ticket so is not paid separately.

Discounted Tickets:

Officially discounted fares - see Apex fares.
Unofficially discounted fares (see Bucket shops) enable you to pay Apex prices without the associated advance bookings and other requirements.
The lowest prices often impose drawbacks such as flying with unpopular airlines, inconvenient schedules or unpleasant routes and connections

Economy-Class Tickets:

These tickets give you maximum flexibility and are valid for 12 months they are usually not the cheapest way to go. Most unused tickets are refundable.

Lost Tickets:

If you lose your ticket, after an inquiry an airline will usually issue a replacement. However, legally an airline can refuse reissuing a replacement - so if you lose a ticket it could be forever.

No Shows:

Passengers who fail to show up for their flight for whatever reason. Full-fare no shows are sometimes entitled to travel on a later flight. Discount ticket holders are penalized see cancellation penalties.

Open Jaw Tickets:

These are return tickets that allow you to fly into one place and return out of another (traveling between by any means of transport at your own expense).

Overbooking:

Airlines often book more passengers than they have seats available (invariably each flight has some passengers who fail to show up they). Usually the excess passengers balance those who fail to show up. Occasionally some body gets bumped (see bumped) late arrivals.

Reconfirmation:

You must contact the airline at least 72 hours before departure to reconfirm that you intend to be on the flight. Otherwise the airline can delete your name from the passenger list and you could lose your seat.

Restrictions:

On discounted tickets;
Advance purchase
Limitations on the minimum period you must be away.
Limitations on the maximum period you must be away.
Breaking the journey.
Changing the booking route.
etc.

Standby:

A discounted ticket where you only fly if there is a seat free at the last moment. Available directly from the airport and (sometimes) handled by the airlines city office. Arrive early and have your name placed on the waiting list - first come first serve.

Student Discounts:

Some airlines offer ticket discounts of 15% to 25% to student-card holders and any one under the age of 26 only generally available on ordinary economy-class full price fares.

Transferred Tickets:

Airline tickets cannot be transferred from one person to another. Travellers sometimes try to sell the return half of their ticket, but officials can ask you to prove that you are the person named on the ticket - international flights tickets are usually compared to passports. Domestic tickets might not be checked.

Travel Periods:

Some officially discounted fares vary with the time of year. There is a low (off-peak) season and a high (peak) season sometimes there's an intermediate or shoulder season as well. At peak times both officially and unofficially discounted fares will be higher (or simply not discounted). Usually if you depart in high season and return in low season, you pay the high season fare.

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