The Deal Detective is SmarterTravel.com’s resident bargain hunter, Kate Hamman. She’s always on the lookout for new travel deals and invites you, dear reader, to submit your own questions.
Travel may be getting more and more expensive these days, but every once in a while you can still come across a truly outstanding deal. Here’s the latest example of just such an offer.
Erin writes, “Just returned from my first trip to Australia and I’m completely enamored! Desperately searching for great holiday deals and a third trip in late spring. In the six months I’ve been watching that fare from the North Carolina area, I have not seen one special fare or discount. My last trip was $1,850 and that seemed a bargain compared to the $15,000 prices some airlines were offering. The holiday fares are currently well over $3,200, making that trip undoable. I now have 20,000 frequent flyer miles that seem to do no good, either. Suggestions or tips that might put Australia back on the travel agenda?”
As an avid believer in the old adage that honesty is the best policy, I’m not going to lie when I say that holiday travel to Australia can cost more than just a pretty penny. Luckily, I also believe with a little cunning and patience (and flexibility) it is still possible to find a bargain, especially if you’re willing to travel outside the busy holiday period.
Through October 31, [[Qantas | Qantas]] is celebrating the launch of its new Airbus A380 planes by offering one-way tickets from the West Coast to Australia starting at $380, or from the East Coast starting at $480.
The deal is valid for travel between October 24 and November 17, and from May 1 through May 31. While that won’t fit into your holiday plans, it should save you a bundle on that late-Spring trip. Consider flying from Durham to Los Angeles in May (flights started at about $240 on AirTran, including taxes and fees, when I priced them). This will save you more money than the shorter flight to New York ($223 on American) when you factor in the higher price of Qantas’s East Coast departures. So where does that leave us? Add the $240 flight to Los Angeles to the $760 you’ll spend on a round-trip flight with Qantas, your grand total will be $1,000 (not including taxes and fees on the Aussie portion of the trip). How can you argue with that?
Plus, Qantas is also offering packages that include accommodations, activities, and airport and hotel transfers, starting at $380 per person. For instance, you can stay at the Menzies Sydney Hotel for three nights, visit the Sydney Wildlife World, and get to and from the airport for $380. Rack rates at the Menzies typically start at about $304 AUD (about $208 U.S.; check XE.com for current exchange rate) per night, but discounts are also available. The price of the room alone, however, may end up costing more than the package itself.
Four days may not seem like enough time to really explore the sights, but you can always add on a few extra days at a cheaper hotel. The main point is that it’s possible for you to visit Australia in May for about $1,380, including flight, lodging, transfers, and activities.
If you do have your heart set on going during the holidays, I was able to find round-trip flights on United from Durham, North Carolina, to Sydney from December 23 through December 30 starting at $2,104 (including taxes and fees). This is still more than the $1,850 you originally spent, but far less than the $3,200 you were finding.
Whenever you choose to go, I hope you don’t dilly-dally too long because these prices won’t last and Australia awaits. Let me know about your adventures, and any great deals you find.
And now a note to my other readers: If you have any other tips for Erin on ways to save Down Under, please share any and all ideas below.
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All prices, dates, and booking details listed here were valid at the time of publication. Some information may have changed since that time.