I'm travelling to Australia next year – what are the best flight options?
Wednesday 10 April 2013
Q. I am visiting a friend in Adelaide in February 2014. I have booked the outbound flight to Sydney in business class with BA using all of my Avios frequent-flyer points. My friend is meeting me in Sydney for a couple of nights before we fly on to Adelaide. I have yet to book my return. However I have had a quick look and Malaysia and Singapore Airlines from Adelaide to Heathrow look to be my best option. These both have stopovers in Asia which is fine with me. Any advice would be welcome. Gary Crump, Evesham
A. You might not thank us for this advice, but it is probably best to cancel the Avios booking and take the £25 hit this involves to get a refund. Then book a return trip to Adelaide (via Sydney if you like) with cash. It will save you money and leave you with your frequent-flyer points intact.
One-way fares from Australia to the UK are way out of line from those in the other direction. An Adelaide-London one-way cost about the same as a UK-Australia return trip. The reason: the strong Australian dollar, and the buoyant economy, mean that international passengers from Australia will tolerate much higher fares.
Looking at the dates you have in mind: in economy the one-way Adelaide-London fare is around £1,000. Yet plenty of return deals from London are available for roughly the same price.
In business class, the price advantage swings even more favourably to the UK-originating passenger. A return from the UK is typically £4,000, compared with £5,000 one way from Australia. Add in the £300 or more that Avios will have charged you in "taxes" to avail yourself of the "free" flight, and paying the £25 cancellation fee doesn't seem so bad.
Don't feel obliged to book immediately. The airlines are likely to have seat sales in the autumn or early winter, at which point you can pick the best deal around. Fares for round-trips from London to Australia in February are unlikely to go up significantly before the end of January.
You may want to organise a round-the-world trip to make the most of the stopover opportunities; you could build-in Los Angeles or San Francisco. Again, in business class an "RTW" ticket would cost less than one-way from Adelaide to London.
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