Special Report on Long-Haul Air Travel: Putting a cut-price girdle round about the earth: Operators have bargains for travellers if they eschew routes to the Antipodes via South-east Asia. Simon Calder reports

FARES to Australia and New Zealand being offered by American and antipodean airlines that operate across the Pacific can be as cheap and often less expensive than for routes via the Far East.

For example, at Trailfinders in London you can pick up a scheduled one-way flight from Gatwick to Sydney, Australia, for pounds 270 (plus pounds 12 tax). Or rather, a series of three flights which take you meandering around the globe.

The first goes as far as Boston, where you transfer to a tiny propellor plane to New York, spending the night at your expense there. The next morning you fly to Osaka, losing a complete day. Never before has Japan's second city featured as a stopover on the London-Australia route; console your jetlagged soul with the knowledge that, had you flown here direct on British Airways, it would have cost pounds 683 just to get this far. Finally, 14,000 miles and three days later, you arrive in Sydney.

This is an extreme example of the phenomenon whereby going the long way around to Australia and New Zealand can be cheaper than the route via South-east Asia. British Airways' two-stop service from London to Auckland via Asia is quicker than Air New Zealand's Pacific flight, even though the latter stops only once, in Los Angeles. The time-saving for Australia is greater still.

In a world which has an over-supply of aircraft seats and a shortage of people to fill them, airlines are having to cut fares drastically. Add the over- capacity across the North Atlantic to the glut of seats over the Pacific, and the traveller who is prepared to take the west-bound route to the Antipodes is certain of a bargain.

The North American carriers are able to offer same-airline service all the way to Australia and New Zealand. As well as Northwest Airlines, Canadian, Continental and United Airlines can take you from Gatwick or Heathrow to the Antipodes. The prospect of a stopover in Houston or Toronto may not be quite so tempting as a few days in Bangkok or Bali, but on North American airlines you can almost design your own route.

The Pacific is also enticing: most carriers can offer a Honolulu option, while Air New Zealand offers the chance of a stopover in Tahiti or Fiji. It is the second-largest carrier to Australia, and sells some attractive through fares to seven cities.

Most of these deals are available only through agents. The UK has the world's best discount flight market, and a few calls can save a fortune. Perhaps the perfect solution is to combine a cut-price trans-Pacific flight to Australia and New Zealand with a discount fare across South-east Asia. It does not take a fortune to encircle the globe these days: you can make a round-the-world journey for less than the current excursion return fare from London to Moscow of pounds 723.

It is a buyer's market, and the bargains are there for the taking - especially across the Pacific. 'From the punter's point of view, it's fantastic', says Rob Lawrence of Campus Travel in London. 'There's never been a better time to visit Australasia'.

Even the politicians are coming to the aid of the traveller. The Northwest Airlines special offer is partly the result of a trade dispute. The New York-Osaka-Sydney route is the subject of a wrangle between the US and Japanese authorities. Japan is accusing Northwest of 'poaching' customers between Osaka and Sydney, and has said no more than half the passengers on this sector can originate in Osaka. The remaining 50 per cent of seats have to be filled somehow, and offering impecunious Brits a cheap trip to Australia is one way to do it.

The winners of this particular skirmish are the bleary-eyed voyagers in the transit lounge at Osaka. They may not have any idea of what day it is, but they have the right idea about how to save money on the long haul to Sydney. Goodness knows what the people of Osaka make of it all.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: Planning Assistant

    £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: You will be working for one of the count...

    Recruitment Genius: Purchase Ledger Administrator

    £5120 per annum: Recruitment Genius: You will be working for one of the countr...

    Recruitment Genius: Engineering Surveyor

    £20000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity has arisen for a...

    Recruitment Genius: Customer Services Support

    £9000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: You will be working for one of the countr...

    Day In a Page

    Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

    Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

    How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
    Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

    Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

    Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
    Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

    Aviation history is littered with grand failures

    But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
    Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

    Fortress Europe?

    Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
    Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

    Never mind what you're wearing

    It's what you're reclining on that matters
    General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

    Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

    The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
    Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

    Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

    Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
    Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

    Marginal Streets project documents voters

    Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
    Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

    The real-life kingdom of Westeros

    Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
    How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

    How to survive a Twitter mauling

    Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
    Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

    At dawn, the young remember the young

    A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
    Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

    Follow the money as never before

    Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
    Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

    Samuel West interview

    The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
    General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

    Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

    Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
    Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

    Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

    The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence