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Fares Go Down for Down Under: Three Great Sales to Australia

May 9, 2003 -- Crossing the broad Pacific usually means leaving a trail of dollars across the water; in ordinary times, you're lucky to get to Australia without dropping $1,000 or even $1,500 along the way. But these aren't ordinary times, and three airlines are proving that with fares that really make you say "G'day."

But first, a note about weather. Australia is in the Southern Hemisphere, meaning you're flying into their winter. Things will be chilly, but not miserable. Expect temperatures in the 40s and 50s in Sydney and Melbourne in July. It ain't beach weather, and it can be drizzly, but it's still fine city weather. Now, back to the deals.

United starts the bidding with some "are those for real?" fares from Los Angeles and San Francisco to Sydney and Melbourne. If you can nab an "International Online Sale" fare, you're zipping across the Pacific for a mere $678 plus tax (from LA) or $718 plus tax (from SF). Problem is, when we searched United's Website, all the cheap seats looked sold out. You can try yourself at If you can indeed find the fares, they're on sale until May 16 for travel on Mondays-Wednesdays between May 13 and June 19, and a 6-day minimum stay is required.

You may have more luck with Qantas, which is also offering great fares to Australia for purchase before May 12. We had no trouble booking these fares through Qantas' website. Travel to Sydney or Melbourne from:

  • Los Angeles: $735
  • San Francisco: $862
  • San Jose: $867
  • Las Vegas or San Diego: $877
  • Seattle: $1,046
  • Portland: $1,052
  • Denver: $1,054
  • Chicago: $1,086
  • New York (JFK or EWR): $1106
  • Boston: $1,126
  • Dallas: $1,132
  • Washington, D.C. or Miami: $1,197

Don't tell Qantas, but you can get these fares even lower by combining the LA fare with some of the rollicking cross-country deals out there right now. For instance, taking a Southwest Airlines $198 roundtrip from Miami to LAX and then booking the Qantas fare from Los Angeles means you pay $933 total instead of $1197. This strategy isn't for the neurotic, though, because if you're flying on two airlines, you'll have to pick up and recheck your bags in LA, and if your first flight is too late, you're stuck on standby for the "next available flight" to Australia. To see our recent article on carriers offering less-than-$200 cross-continental fares, click here.

If you book all the way through on Qantas, they'll check your bags through to Australia and make it a priority to get you to Australia if your connecting flight is late, offering you or someone else compensation if the next flight across the Pacific is sold out.

Fly before June 17 or during the month of August to get these great fares. There's a 3-day advance purchase requirement, a minimum stay of 7 days and a maximum stay of 1 month. Book online at

If Qantas' seats are sold out, Air New Zealand is also offering a great $805 fare from Los Angeles to Sydney or Melbourne. Just like with Qantas, there's a 7-day minimum and 1-month maximum stay. The advantage here is that these fares include a free stopover in Auckland. Book by May 12 for travel any time between June 1 and August 31 at this fare page