By MoneySavingExpert's Coupon Kid, Jordon Cox
Everyone loves a holiday (even more if you get a good deal on it), so when an email offering sub-£600 flights to Australia popped up at MSE last week, it’s fair to say it got our attention.
Less than £600 to fly all the way Down Under did sound like a good price… but is it? Prices have been plummeting, with travel agents reporting the lowest fares they’ve seen in the last five years, and there are some fascinating reasons behind the falling costs. So we thought we’d share our analysis, along with some tips on how to nab the cheap flights.
Are sub-£600 flights to Australia widespread?
We’ve been didgeridoo-ing our research on flights for the next 319 days (as far as the calendar will take us) to see how many days you could fly to Australia for less than £600. Considering prices peak during school holidays and Christmas, if you can work around those dates you could be heading Down Under for a cracking price.
We found flights for as little as £514 return to Adelaide (from Manchester), £553 to Perth (from London) and £559 to Sydney (from London) on a variety of dates.
Perth in Western Australia shows 148 days of flights over the next 10 months at less than £600 if you fly from London (nearly half of the days tested) and a decent number to Sydney.
|Number of days flights were under £600
These airlines are not your bog-standard budget airlines either, most being high-scoring airlines in customer service polls. We found flights with Emirates, Etihad, Qatar and Singapore Airlines at some point in our sub-£600 research. The cheapest airline consistently in our research was China Southern, which has excellent customer reviews, so no airline mentioned here is likely to spoil your trip.
These low cost prices to Australia makes it cheaper than travelling to Buenos Aires on average with the cheapest fare at £551… despite being up to 4,000 miles further
The price per mile on these cheap flights is quite remarkable in comparison to UK travel. Comparing the cheapest airfare to Australia, which is £514 return (2.5p per mile), to the cheapest return train we could find from London to Manchester – which is £26 (16p per mile), means you’re paying over 80% less per mile on a cheap Australian flight.
Why is this?
From our own research, as well as talking with industry experts at Business Traveller magazine, we found there has been a real shift in prices for a number of reasons, as MoneySavingExpert Martin Lewis explains:
“The increase in the number of big carriers flying to Australia, and more competition in general means it has had an impact on prices.
“It is also worth noting who these airlines are including Emirates, Etihad, Qatar, Singapore Airlines and China Southern – who are all owned or part-owned by their respective governments.
“As you have to stop off when flying to Oz and layovers can be from one hour to several days if you wish, it’s a useful way to not only get people to spend money in their country, but also a piece of marketing to hopefully get return visitors to see the country as a holiday destination in its own right.
“Some layovers are as short as an hour however, so you could get away with flying to Oz and not spending any extra in a different city.”
How to book cheap Oz flights
1. Find the cheapest price with comparison sites
Don’t bother looking at the deals direct with airlines, as results are included in the cheap flight screen-scrapers such as Kayak*, Skyscanner*, TravelSupermarket* and my favourite Google Flights. They compare the prices of most airlines and travel agents to give you the best prices.
2. Steer your search towards the cheapest dates
November is the cheapest month to go Down Under this year, with cheap flights throughout the month with Singapore Airlines, Emirates, Qatar and China Southern to Perth, Sydney and Melbourne. The cheaper flights mostly leave on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, with weekends the most expensive. So try searching for these dates to boost your chances.
3. See if taking the scenic route is cheaper (advanced)
Once you’ve benchmarked the cheapest flights, if you’re really dedicated you could try creating your own connecting flight, which can be cheaper than booking one that is included. For example, break it down and look up two separate flights (eg, one flight London-Dubai, then another Dubai-Sydney) to see if it works out cheaper. Search for the cheapest using screen-scraper sites above, but finding the right dates is trial and error.
Here are some of the top deals we’ve found, though of course prices may vary for your dates:
Manchester – Adelaide £514 rtn (Qatar Airways) on Wed 2 Nov – Wed 16 Nov
London – Adelaide £546 rtn (Qatar Airways) on Sun 16 Oct – Sun 30 Oct
London – Perth £553 rtn (Singapore Airways) on Tue 7 Jun – Tue 21 Jun
London – Sydney £559 rtn (China Southern) on Wed 22 Jun – Wed 6 Jul
If any of these bonza deals take your fancy, you could be posing by the Sydney Opera House in no time.