Booking airfare from US to Sydney

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#1
bolingbrook, IL
1,990 Posts
Joined Oct 2000
We're booked on Radiance of the Seas out of Sydney for NZ and Australia cruises early next year and are looking to book airfare. When's the best time to book? I've always heard that international flights should be booked as soon as they're available (usually about 10 month before your flight) but now I'm hearing this may not be true.

I know domestic flights are lowest about 6-8 weeks before.
#2
Petaluma, Ca. 94954
30,149 Posts
Joined Jul 2000
There is no one best time...when prices fluctuate will depend on how they are selling.

If you are talking January or February, the cheapest fares have probably already sold. No one here is going to be able to tell you if they will get cheaper or more expensive, but you are going during peak season, so I wouldn't be holding my breath.

You might want to do some research on the Cruise Air board. But right now, I would be building a fact sheet of what you are seeing, so you can see any trends that might be happening.

By the way, most international airfares come out 330 days prior to flight...some 365 days.
#3
bolingbrook, IL
1,990 Posts
Joined Oct 2000
Thanks for the info. We're leaving mid-March and returning early April. I haven't found any flights available yet for our return.
#4
Lake Macquarie, Australia
543 Posts
Joined Dec 2014
Watch Air New Zealand for US flights, they're quite good. Its hard to say this far out. Try to avoid flights that arrive/depart Fri/Sat/Sun as they often tend to be more expensive.
#5
Sydney, Australia
7,939 Posts
Joined Jan 2014
Originally posted by sellwingri
Thanks for the info. We're leaving mid-March and returning early April. I haven't found any flights available yet for our return.
Qantas flights are available for that period.

Just keep checking the websites of your preferred airlines to see when those periods become available for booking.

For international flights I've always found that the cheapest flights on the most direct routes always sell out early.
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and Sea Princess Hawaii, Tahiti and South Pacific cruise in August 2019

Sep 2017 - Royal Princess - Mediterranean
Feb 2017 - Celebrity Solstice - Auckland to Sydney
Nov 2016 - Carnival Legend - South Pacific
Sep 2016 - Sun Princess - Papua New Guinea
Apr 2016 - Golden Princess - Sydney to Hong Kong
Dec 2015 - Celebrity Solstice - Auckland to Sydney
Aug 2015 - Dawn Princess - Top End Fremantle to Sydney
Mar 2015 - Rhapsody of the Seas - South Pacific
Dec 2014 - Sun Princess - South Pacific
Sep 2008 - Avalon Tapestry - Rhine Cruise
#6
Whalan
322 Posts
Joined Nov 2007
Usually flights open for sale approximately 331 days in advance. February and March is usually low season, however watch out for Easter 2018, and school holidays. The airlines may make end of March - April high season if Easter and school holidays (Australian) fall into this season. I do appreciate that you are coming from US, however my reason for mention AU school holidays is because of flight inventory.
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#7
Australia
145 Posts
Joined Oct 2014
We fly internationally quite a bit to the US (I was born there and we travel to see family fairly regularly), so I know the stress of looking for the right price and time!

If you have a preferred airline, get on their mailing lists and watch for sales and promotions, we find that there are often some great deals to be had 6-10 months before but there is no specific time window. Personally I wouldn't book the moment it's available unless they happen to be having a great sale at the time. In the mean time, check the pricing occasionally so you recognise a good deal when it does turn up.

In terms of airlines from my own experience, I've flown Virgin, Qantas, ANZ and would recommend any of them. I did fly JAL once, I see you're in IL so some of the japanese airlines may have good deals via Tokyo. That was a fun trip because it included an overnight with hotel room in Tokyo but was still cheaper at the time than some of the other major carriers, I'm not sure if that's still the case. Personally I'd avoid United, I've had some awful experiences with them and just won't fly with them anymore. It may have changed in recent years, I kinda gave up about 10 years ago.
#8
South Carolina
583 Posts
Joined Feb 2007
Originally posted by Meamat
If you have a preferred airline, get on their mailing lists and watch for sales and promotions, we find that there are often some great deals to be had 6-10 months before but there is no specific time window. Personally I wouldn't book the moment it's available unless they happen to be having a great sale at the time. In the mean time, check the pricing occasionally so you recognise a good deal when it does turn up.
i signed up for Qantas specials and they send me offers for RT for $1000 from the west coast. These are usually for the Feb-Apr time frame. ANZ offers similar specials to NZ.
#9
152 Posts
Joined Feb 2017
The other thing is look for baggage allowances.. Some of the more cheaper from west coast only have minimum baggage allowance. The 3rd cheapest flight i found last year, was the cheapest overall..
#10
bolingbrook, IL
1,990 Posts
Joined Oct 2000
Very helpful-thanks to all. A couple of additional questions. How painful is it to go though customs in Japan, Singapore, or any other fly through cities on our way to Sydney? How much time between flights would we need to allow?

Is it true when you go through customs in Australia that you need to bring your meds in their original container? DH takes a lot of meds and uses a couple of those Sunday to Saturday plastic cases for each week we're gone.
#11
Australia
145 Posts
Joined Oct 2014
When we traveled via Japan it was fairly easy. On the way to the US, we had an overnight layover and the airline really took care of us, bused us to the hotel, etc. so it was pretty straightforward. On the way back we had a crazy long layover in Narita... something like 9 hours and of course we were already exhausted. At that stage (18 years ago, I'm sure some things have changed!), the non smoking areas weren't really segregated well in the airport so I was feeling pretty sick and over traveling by the time we boarded the last flight home. With a bit more foresight (and perhaps more travel experience) I'm sure that could be a better experience. Changi (Singapore) is meant to be one of the most beautiful and comfortable airports in the world. I've not connected through there, but from what I've heard I wouldn't hesitate.

In terms of traveling via the airports to another flight - in most places a couple hours would be plenty of time. You're generally already checked in from your previous flight, so you really just need to clear customs and find the next gate, no long check in queues.

Check this site for the proper information about medication coming into australia : https://www.tga.gov.au/entering-australia

Basically you don't need to have it IN the original containers, but you should have any paperwork for the prescription with you and the original containers intact somewhere on your person. It's also worth checking their guidelines to be sure that everything is legal here - the last thing you'd need is having an essential medication taken from you because you'd not gone through a permit process. You would need to declare some types of medication ( eg addictive pain medications). It doesn't mean you can't have them, just that you'd need to have the paperwork in place and be able to show it if asked.
#12
Sydney, Australia
7,939 Posts
Joined Jan 2014
We've had long layovers at a couple of airports in the past.

At Narita there was a place where you could book a day room by the hour. We booked in there, had a nice rest, and showers.

At Singapore there are hotels that you can book for six hour minimum periods. One, in Terminal 1, I think) has a lovely roof-top swimming pool. I booked that one, we had a swim and some lunch around the pool, then had a short snooze and showers. I think you can use the pool for a small fee even if you haven't booked into the hotel - there are showers etc at the pool.
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and Sea Princess Hawaii, Tahiti and South Pacific cruise in August 2019

Sep 2017 - Royal Princess - Mediterranean
Feb 2017 - Celebrity Solstice - Auckland to Sydney
Nov 2016 - Carnival Legend - South Pacific
Sep 2016 - Sun Princess - Papua New Guinea
Apr 2016 - Golden Princess - Sydney to Hong Kong
Dec 2015 - Celebrity Solstice - Auckland to Sydney
Aug 2015 - Dawn Princess - Top End Fremantle to Sydney
Mar 2015 - Rhapsody of the Seas - South Pacific
Dec 2014 - Sun Princess - South Pacific
Sep 2008 - Avalon Tapestry - Rhine Cruise
#13
1 Posts
Joined May 2017
I have flown to New Zealand three times since 2005. Once on Air Taihiti Nui, Air New Zealand, and Fiji Air. If you go to the official website of the New Zealand tourist department they will have pop-ups on flight deals. Fiji Air goes thru Fiji on their way. Last trip in 2013 I flew Fiji Air for $1250 round trip from LA to Sydney and Aukland to LA. It included a two night layover in Nadi for free. Air New Zealand was $1900 for same trip without the layover in Fiji. You will have to buy your trip to LA separately to get the best price unless you know a really good travel agency. If you buy a year ahead of time you will have to pay full price. If you wait to late you may not get the flights you want. I have found that flight prices were best about four to six months before the flight. You are taking a great cruise and going to one of the greatest places on earth, so enjoy yourself, and spend some time in Australia before the cruise and in New Zealand after.
#14
144 Posts
Joined Sep 2015
Watch Air New Zealand for sales. I did a cruise from Auckland to Sydney in March and booked my flights about 40 days out ( last minute cruise booking!) and paid around $1200 for my flights. I flew direct from LAX to Auckland, then flew home Sydney-Auckland- LAX. I don't live in LA, but was able to book a roundtrip ticket to LA from my hometown on Southwest using points. The fare sale on Air New Zealand is what convinced me to book the cruise.
#15
Batehaven, Australia
10,689 Posts
Joined Mar 2006
Last year we did business class on Air NZ, Syd-LAX-Syd for our Island Princess - Panama Canal cruise. Had to change aircraft in Auckland. Some good prices, they are good to fly with. Booked direct with Air NZ site.

Have flown Business/Premium Economy/Economy with them at different times, all good. New fleet, have Boeing 777-300 and Dream Liners.
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#16
211 Posts
Joined Mar 2004
We will be on the Radiance next March. I had been watching airfares at matrix.itasoftware.com and once my dates opened up, I booked. Usually Tuesdays seem to offer the best pricing. I was able to get Delta premium economy Milwaukee to Sydney round trip for under $1900.
#17
bolingbrook, IL
1,990 Posts
Joined Oct 2000
Originally posted by kim826
We will be on the Radiance next March. I had been watching airfares at matrix.itasoftware.com and once my dates opened up, I booked. Usually Tuesdays seem to offer the best pricing. I was able to get Delta premium economy Milwaukee to Sydney round trip for under $1900.
We're on Radiance as well, cruising on March 18 to NZ, followed by a cruise to AU. I'll check out your site.
#19
bolingbrook, IL
1,990 Posts
Joined Oct 2000
Assuming you're flying out of Milwaukee, what's your flight path to Sydney? I've been looking at premium economy on American to LA and then to Sydney. Cost is $2000.
#20
California
829 Posts
Joined Feb 2010
In March, we booked r/t from SFO to Sydney direct on Qaantas for our November Radiance cruise for $759 p/p. We jumped on that booking when we saw the price!
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