For many people, the major downside of making the trip over to Australia is that it’s so far away, and as such, flights to Australia can cost quite a bit.
Thankfully, there are some simple rules that can help lower the cost, as well as flight search engines out there that we can use to our advantage.
Let’s start with some general advice.
Although there are a number of different ways to find the best flights, almost all of them can be described in one word: Flexibility.
Rule #1: Dates.
I realize that it can often be difficult to be flexible when it comes to your travel dates, however, you should try as much as you can to make sure that you are.
To give you a very basic example, let’s say that I’m based in Melbourne and I plan to visit family next month on the opposite side of Australia in Perth, and I plan to spend 5 nights there.
Using Skyscanner, as shown above, you can see how being flexible can save you a decent amount of money.
Example: If I was locked in to specific dates and I had to spend my 5 nights there from the 5th, that would cost me $539 return ($278 + $261).
If though, I could delay things one week and instead leave on the 12th, suddenly the return flight becomes $409 in total ($191 + $218), a saving of $130.
If I was even more flexible and could instead choose to go towards the end of the month, I could arrive in Perth on the 24th for $117, and come back to Melbourne on the 29th for $176, a total of $293 return.
That would be a total saving of $246 from the initial dates I looked at, ~45% cheaper!
Rule #2: Timing.
Although there is no exact science, and airline companies try their best to make sure they don’t leave any identifiable patterns, typically you should be trying to book your flights between 1-4 months before you plan to leave.
Also, flights departing on weekdays, and specifically Tuesdays, are often cheaper as those parts of the week are not as busy as weekends.
Rule #3: Arrival Destination.
Another thing to be flexible with is which city in Australia you decide to fly into.
Let’s say you’re travelling from London and your plan is to travel through the common backpacker trail. Like many, you might think that it makes the most sense to fly into somewhere like Cairns in the north of the country, and then make your way down to Sydney or Melbourne.
From a quick look, though, there might be a better option. These are best prices (In $AUD) to fly from London to Australia in 4-8 weeks from the time of writing this, according to Kiwi.
If you are taking the common route linked to above, you will likely be spending some time on the Gold Coast anyway, so why not start there instead? Doing so could save you $95.82 just on that first flight, and that number will start to climb if you keep being flexible with the order of your itinerary.
To wrap this post up, I thought I would list some of the better flight search engines out there, including the ones I’ve already mentioned above, in no particular order.
I have already shown Kiwi in an above example, but it’s a very flexible search engine with a range of options.
In addition to being very flexible with dates, you can choose “Anywhere” as your destination, or even just a whole country/continent, and also use a radius for your departure location, as sometimes there might be cheaper flights from an airport nearby rather than your main one.
Personally, I consider Kiwi to be the best flight search engine available.
A lot of people rave about Google Flights so I thought I should include it, however, I personally don’t feel it can do anything that the others in the list can’t.
It can be useful as a backup tool, or even just to double check and make sure that there aren’t some flights you’ve overlooked.
One thing I really like about Momondo is the ability to add multi city trips as an option. This is especially useful if you’re travelling to Australia from somewhere in Europe where it makes sense to stop in Asia for a few days along the way.
Skyscanner is a very well known search engine that is also very useful. Even when I find a flight price I like elsewhere, I always make sure to also check with Skyscanner as they seem to always do a very good job.
5. ITA Matrix
ITA Matrix is the software that Google uses to power Google Flights. It’s not as pretty to look at as any of the other sites above, however, it is very flexible, and very powerful.
Whether it’s being able to search for premium economy, business, or first class flights, searching via nearby airports, and even things like cost per mile, it’s a very versatile and powerful tool that you should check out.
As I mentioned above, I think Kiwi is the best overall flight search engine available, but it’s always a good idea to use multiple search engines depending on what you’re looking for.
Ultimately, though, as has been the recurring them throughout this post, the most important thing is that you stay as flexible as you can when planning your travels.
What are your favourite methods for finding cheap flights? Post them in the comments.