Sunday, January 21, 2007

Canada to Australia QANTAS Air Pass Sale To January 31, 2007

If you're toying with the idea of a trip Down Under, you may want to spend a happy hour or two trolling around the QANTAS and Virgin Blue web sites. But move sharpish -- the QANTAS Air Pass sale is on only until January 31, 2007. (U.S and U.K. and other travelers, check out the web site for special deals for you, too.)

The air pass basically gives you options to travel within Australia according to zones -- numbered 1, 2, or 3, depending on distance. I have yet to see Perth, so that's high on my list for my next trip. Perth is in Zone 3. The basic air pass is $300 more for travel from Toronto (YYZ) via Vancouver (YVR), so instead of Vancouver's $1,499, it starts at $1,799 (taxes NOT included here). That gets me to Zone 1 destinations -- Melbourne, Brisbane, Sydney, etc. or about $2,000 CAD all told. For Perth (and Cairns, where I've been before) and others, it's $2,699 plus taxes. I'll bet it would cost just around $3,000 CAD, all told, according to this QANTAS page for Feb-March departures.

So I thought to check Virgin Blue for round trip prices from Sydney to Perth :: $458 AUD Tax Included (which is even lower by a few dollars when converted to CAD). Unless I decide to go to other Zone 3 destinations, then on the surface, it's cheaper for me to travel international to Sydney and domestic on Virgin Blue. (When I flew Virgin Blue from Cairns to Sydney a few years ago, and hit a seat sale - the fare one way was only $160 CAD. If you go Virgin Blue, be aware it's pretty bare bones. They wouldn't even hand out water for free.)

If all this is doing your head in like it is mine, set aside an hour or two to map out various itinerary options before booking. Use a calendar to mark the travel dates. Remember to add a day or so (depending on when your flight leaves North America) for crossing the International Date Line. Be realistic about the time needed for inter-city travel. See how many Australia cities you can reasonably visit in the total time you have to travel. For example, Sydney to Perth is roughly a 5-hour flight.

While you're on the QANTAS site, check out this page for allowable carry-ons, etc.

While I was looking around the QANTAS home page, I noticed there's a contest on right now to win a flight to Sydney and ticket to a show, so of course, I entered. If I win, I won't have to worry about sorting out all these fares.

( Show of Hands! Who knows what QANTAS stands for?)