How can I get the cheapest flight from SFO to Melbourne over New Year's?
December 6, 2007 2:16 PM   Subscribe

Please shower me with tips on how to get the best airfare deal between San Francisco and Melbourne, Australia, over New Year's!

OK, so this happened, and it was great and terrible at the same time. My girlfriend is settling in in Australia, and the first thing she finds out from work is that the office is going to be shutting down for two weeks over New Year's, because most of their clients will be closed and so there won't be any work for them to do. This would seem a perfect opportunity to go for a visit, because my next chance won't be until April sometime. Unfortunately, I need to travel no earlier than 12/28, and stay no longer than 1/7. With those dates, airfares are coming out at $3000 and up; more than double the normal rates I've seen at other times.

I found that Quantas has what they call an Aussie AirPass deal - for the dates in question it would be about $2300, and include three flights within the country. That sounds nice, but for the limited time I have, I'd really rather just spend it all in Melbourne. I suppose I could book these other flights and then skip out on them, but I'm not sure if that's really a good idea.

If you have any other tips for how I could get a cheap flight during these dates, I'm all ears. My only other thought is that I should just wait until the last minute and pray for a crazy deal.
posted by autojack to Travel & Transportation (8 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
this sounds like an excellent time to use frequent flyer miles, if you have any.
posted by thinkingwoman at 2:43 PM on December 6, 2007

Not sure if this will help but: Fatwallet: How to get the best airfare deals.
posted by sharkfu at 2:44 PM on December 6, 2007

Yeah from my experience this is a pretty rough thing to do, it's outrageous to fly to Australia over Christmas, if you are within the age range for STA travel, I'd give that a shot, they don't seem to even require a student card anymore, I got a better rate through them, but it was still ridiculous and this was a few years ago.
posted by whoaali at 2:55 PM on December 6, 2007

1) Get to Honolulu. Could be a problem over the holidays.
2) Honolulu-Sydney-Melbourne-Sydney-Honolulu, on the dates you want, on Jetstar (a cheap offshoot of Qantas: meals, entertainment, etc all buy-on-board/online-in-advance): US$1423

*keeps hunting*
posted by mdonley at 4:32 PM on December 6, 2007

Sun 30-Dec-07
San Francisco (SFO)
Depart 7:00 pm
Arrive 5:10 am +2 days
6,531 mi
(10,511 km)
Duration: 13hr 10mn
NZ Air New Zealand
Flight: 7
3Economy/Coach Class, 772 - BOEING 777/200
flight Tue 1-Jan-08
Auckland (AKL)
Depart 7:40 am
Arrive 9:30 am
Terminal 2
1,638 mi
(2,636 km)
Duration: 3hr 50mn
NZ Air New Zealand
Flight: 123
3Economy/Coach Class, Breakfast, Boeing 747-400
Total distance: 8,169 mi (13,147 km)
Total duration: 17hr 0mn (19hr 30mn with connections)
Traveling to San Francisco
flight Mon 7-Jan-08
Melbourne (MEL)
Depart 1:00 pm
Terminal 2 to Auckland (AKL)
Arrive 6:30 pm
1,638 mi
(2,636 km)
Duration: 3hr 30mn
NZ Air New Zealand
Flight: 1722
3Economy/Coach Class, Lunch, Airbus A320
Auckland (AKL)
Depart 11:00 pm
Arrive 1:55 pm
Terminal 2
6,522 mi
(10,496 km)
Duration: 11hr 55mn
NZ Air New Zealand
Flight: 2
3Economy/Coach Class, Boeing 747-400
Los Angeles (LAX)
Depart 4:00 pm
Terminal 7 to San Francisco (SFO)
Arrive 5:21 pm
Terminal 3
330 mi
(531 km)
Duration: 1hr 21mn
NZ Air New Zealand
Flight: 9262
3Economy/Coach Class, Boeing 757-200
Total distance: 8,490 mi (13,663 km)
Total duration: 16hr 46mn (23hr 21mn with connections)

$2514.50 on Expedia
posted by misha at 5:18 PM on December 6, 2007

Air Asia X is flying from Kuala Lumpur to Gold Coast, which is not at all near Melbourne, but is at least in the same country (could you both meet up?), for about US$700 return on the dates you want. No idea about getting to KL from California, though.

As far as the Aussie Airpass thing is concerned, I tried the online booking tool, and it lets you play with dates and itineraries, and you're not actually obliged to take all three extra flights; in fact, it let me put "Sydney" as the first destination, connect the same day to the next destination, Melbourne, and then fly back to the States from there. However, there were no available seats back to the States until something absurd, like the 16th of January!

My best suggestion, really, is for you both to go somewhere in the middle (southeast Asia comes to mind...), which you pay for, up to the cost of what it would have cost for you go Down Under, say $2300 for both of you. Since you're not going all the way to Australia, and she's not coming all the way to the States, you might have more time together, and by going somewhere cheaper you'll be able to enjoy yourselves more, perhaps.
posted by mdonley at 5:20 PM on December 6, 2007


Go to the Air New Zealand website right now. Look for Los Angeles to Melbourne with the dates you mention, with "my dates are flexible". $2219 if you leave on the 29th, $2025 if you leave on the 30th, both with returns on the 7th.

Screenshot here!

Is driving/flying to LAX worth saving hundreds of dollars? And seeing your girlfriend? Yep.
posted by mdonley at 5:30 PM on December 6, 2007

Air NZ might be the best best - if you hit their website right now, they've got return tickets on your dates around the $2600 mark. (They fly via Auckland, which is a decent place to stop over. The service on Air NZ is very good, as well... I reckon better than Qantas.)

It seems that they're out of cheap-economy tickets on the return leg, though, which is why the round trip is coming out so expensive. You could try booking the outbound leg on Air NZ, then booking the return leg on Qantas if you can find it cheaper than $1600?

(Avoid Jetstar, though. I've flown the MEL-HNL round trip once, and it was exceptionally cheap, but you definitely got what you paid for.)
posted by The Shiny Thing at 7:25 PM on December 6, 2007

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