When Is It Cheaper to Fly to Australia?

When Is It Cheaper to Fly to Australia?
When Is It Cheaper to Fly to Australia?
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Reviewed by Ebony Howard

Most travelers find that Australia is well worth the 20-or-so-hour flight from the U.S. And while just getting there can strain any travel budget, there are off-season times of the year—and even days of the week—when you can fly to Australia for less.

Key Takeaways

  • May through June is the off-season, but remember that what is summer in the U.S. is winter for Australians.
  • Shoulder season—February to April and September to early December—is less expensive than the high season, but more expensive than the off-season.
  • Consider a package deal that includes airfare and hotel stays—it often works out to be just a few hundred dollars more than airfare or hotel stay alone.

Travel During Off-Peak Seasons

Airfares from the U.S. to Australia can range from over $1,000 up to $3,000 (especially if you want nonstop flights).

Like most tourist destinations, Australia has different travel seasons. Qantas—Australia’s largest airline by fleet size and the total number of international flights—publishes fares based on three seasons: high, low, and shoulder.

Because the airlines pay close attention to demand in pricing schemes, there are multiple low and shoulder seasons throughout the year. This differs from many tourist destinations that have only three defined periods for low, shoulder, and peak seasons. What would be one long low season during Australia’s winter, for example, is instead interrupted by a pricier shoulder season that coincides with school vacations in the U.S.

So just when are the various seasons? The high (or peak) season, which runs from about the second week of December through January, is when airfare tends to be the priciest because of the heavy holiday-oriented traffic.

This period is Australia’s summer. Remember, the country is in the Southern Hemisphere, so seasons are the opposite of those in the Northern Hemisphere. Depending on where you are, the weather can be really hot and dry, making the country’s beaches a very popular destination.

The shoulder season fits in between the peak and low seasons and runs from:

  • Most of April (fall season)
  • Late June until about the third week of July (winter, but when schools are out in the U.S.)
  • Mid-September through October and then the first week of December (spring)—just before people start traveling for the holidays.

The cheapest airfare tends to be during the low season, which runs from Feb. 1 through the first week of April, from May 1 through late June, from about the third week in July through the third week in September, and again for November.

These periods represent late fall and winter when temperatures are cooler, especially the farther south you are, heading toward Antarctica. Again, this is the opposite of the Northern Hemisphere, where people are used to heading south during the winter to warm up.

For comparison, we looked for the cheapest published fares on expedia.com for 14-day trips, traveling on Wednesdays in both directions during each of the three travel seasons, and flying between Los Angeles and Sydney (prices in U.S. dollars). While the precise prices will vary, these figures represent the typical ratio among the seasons:

  High season (dates tested: Dec. 22 to Jan. 5)   $2,752
  Shoulder season (dates tested: Feb. 9  to Feb. 23)   $1,431
  Low season (dates tested: Aug. 18 to Sept. 1)   $1,088

Different Days, Different Dollars

If you have some flexibility in your travel dates, you may be able to save money by flying Tuesdays and Wednesdays, and avoiding weekend flights.

A quick peek at the published fares on qantas.com, for example, shows that if you traveled on Saturdays instead of Wednesdays, the fares increase in each season by at least $100 (we looked at the same general dates as above but moved each trip forward a few days to travel on Saturdays in both directions).


A flight with one stop can run $500 to $1,000 cheaper than a non-stop flight and often takes just three to four hours longer.

A Package Deal

Depending on your plans, you may be able to save money by purchasing a travel package that includes both airfare and accommodations.

A search on expedia.com, for example, shows a flight-plus-budget hotel deal for $1,687, traveling between Aug. 18 and Sept. 1 (the same dates we searched for low-season fares), which is just about $600 more for the lowest-fare flight alone. Depending on your preferences, you could spend $1,977 for a package that includes a hotel in downtown Sydney.

Or you could splurge and pay $2,442 for a luxe venue like the Four Seasons Hotel Sydney, with its swank spa. Without a package deal, a two-week stay there runs $3,726.

What Does a U.S. Citizen Need to Enter Australia?

As a U.S. citizen, you will need a passport and a visa or an approved Electronic Travel Authority (ETA) to enter Australia.

How Long Does an Australian ETA Take?

An Electronic Travel Authority (ETA), which is needed to enter Australia, usually takes 30 seconds to be approved and received, though it can take up to 12 hours in some cases. It is on a case-by-case basis and will vary for every individual.

Which U.S. City Is Cheapest to Fly From Australia?

Generally, U.S. cities on the West Coast will be cheaper to fly to Australia as they are much closer in distance than cities in other parts of the country. However, with all flight bookings, there are many variables, such as time, flight route, and time of the year.

The Bottom Line

Australia is such a diverse country that it takes weeks, if not months, to even begin to explore all that it has to offer. Like other tourist destinations, travel costs change just like the seasons, so it pays to study the dates.

You may be able to shave a few dollars off your airfare if you can travel on different days of the week. Booking your flight and accommodations together, instead of purchasing them separately, may also result in hefty savings.

Read the original article on Investopedia.