Australia is on almost every traveler’s bucket list but the long-haul flight can seem like a daunting journey, causing some people to put off the trip. We promise it’s totally worth it and really not as bad as you might think. Here’s what it’s like to fly to Australia from the US with a few tips to make your journey as stress free as possible!
Avoid the headaches!
Unless you found an amazing deal on airfare, we highly recommend taking a direct flight to Australia. Likely, you’ll be flying directly to Australia from Dallas, Los Angeles or San Francisco, so your first step would be to get to one of these main hubs on a US domestic flight. Your best bet here is to make sure you book your US domestic flights with your international flights, so that you can check your luggage all the way through to your destination. Otherwise you will have to get off the plane in Dallas (LA or SF), pick up your bags, check into your international flight, drop off your bags, go through security again and then get on your international flight. We like our clients to be able to do a simple transfer from one plane to the other, knowing their bags will be transferred behind the scenes. Less lines means less stress!
Traveler’s Tip: All of your flights within the US and Australia should be booked on the same ticket as your international flight- your About Australia Destination Specialist will do this whenever possible. Not only will this lessen the stress on your way to Australia, but it also increases your luggage allowance throughout your entire journey! Usually, you’ll get two free checked bags when you book in this manner. Even if you only plan on checking one bag, the ability to check an additional bag comes in handy when you come across a flight in Australia that limits carry-on luggage to 7K (15.4 pounds). Rather than pay $50 to check your overweight carry-on, you can simply check it for free because you booked your international ticket with your Australian Domestic flights. See, it pays to book your travel with a Destination Specialist!
Your flight will most likely take off late in the evening and arrive in Australia two days later early in the morning. No, you’re not on the plane for two days, but you will cross the international dateline causing you to lose one day. So if you leave Dallas at 10:30pm on November 20th, you would arrive in Sydney at 6am on November 22nd. You’ll make up this day on the way back, arriving in the US just a few hours after you leave Australia. It’s like time travel!
So you’ve avoided the stress of the dreaded international transfer. Now it’s time to board your new home for the next 12-17 hours. If you are flying First Class, Business Class or Premium Economy, great for you! The service and food are much better and you will be much more comfortable then the folks in Economy. But these options are quite expensive, so we’ll stick to Coach in this description since that’s how most people will get to Australia.
Traveler’s Tip: Your Destination Specialist will send you information on how you can purchase advanced seat selection. If you want to sit in an exit row (for extra leg room) or sit with your travel companion, you’ll want to spend the extra cash to select your seat ahead of time.
You’ll board your flight and take your seat. Airlines like Qantas, Virgin Australia and Air New Zealand will offer in-flight entertainment from the get-go. They have a ton of options with new and classic movies, TV series, music, games and audiobooks. Get comfortable and start picking out a movie or TV show to watch. These flights also offer USB ports that will keep your mobile device charged throughout the flight. Don’t expect Wi-Fi, though. Most international flights currently don’t offer it, but that is slowly changing.
These larger long-haul planes are much more comfortable then most US domestic planes. You’ll likely have a winged headrest that folds in to catch your weary head and your seat will slide forward when laying back to give you a little bit more recline. The Qantas Airbus A380 even offers little footrest nets for added comfort (but these are not available in the exit rows or bulkhead seats).
The plane will take off and after it gets to the correct altitude, flight attendants will offer bottles of water and perhaps a lemon drink. You’ll receive a menu that tells you all that is on offer. We can’t speak for all airlines, but on Qantas, Virgin Australia and Air New Zealand, everything on this menu is included in the price of your flight – including the alcoholic beverages. Just don’t get carried away.
Here’s what we recommend you do:
Watch a movie and enjoy dinner with a tasty dessert. Then maybe watch a TV show or read for about 45 minutes. Three to four hours into your flight, when they turn down the lights, get out of your seat to stretch your legs. Maybe do a lap around the plane. If you are on the Qantas Airbus A380, you can head to the back and walk up and down the flight of stairs a few times. Then go to the restroom to get ready for bed.
It might help if you bring along a change of clothes and your toothbrush (if you forget this, ask for one). Performing your nightly ritual may help you sleep more soundly. Cuddle up with your airline provided blanket and pillow and try to get a full night’s rest. Most airlines will also have sleep masks available should you need them. Snacks and water are available throughout the night.
Traveler’s Tip: Get lots of sleep and drink a lot of water! It may be tempting to watch all three Lord of the Ring movies while you enjoy glasses of Australian wine, but you’ll hate yourself the next day.
In the morning, the lights will come on about 3 hours before you arrive at your destination and the crew will serve breakfast. Wake up, go for a little walk to stretch your legs, eat and fill out your customs card. You might find yourself asking, “Should I declare…..?”. The answer is yes. Just declare anything that remotely matches the description on the card. It will save you trouble in the long run. Now you’ll have time to watch a short movie or catch a few more Zzzzzs before landing in Australia.
You’ve arrived in Australia!
When you land, you will disembark the plane and make your way through customs. You’ll stand in a few lines, show your passport a few times and they’ll ask you what you are bringing into the country. Then you will collect your bags and a cute dog might come along to sniff your bag to make sure you are not smuggling illegal fruit and whatnot. It’s not the best experience, but it’s not the worst. And again it’s totally worth it because, yeah, you’re in Australia!
Now you have to find your way to your hotel. If you booked with us, you’ll have a transfer waiting for you. The shuttle bus will take you to your hotel where you can try to check in. It’s going to be pretty early in the morning, between 7 and 8 am, so unless you’ve arranged for early check in, they likely won’t have a room ready and waiting for you. This is really a blessing in disguise.
If you had a room ready, you might be tempted to take a nap at this point. This is not a good idea. You have to power through your first day in Australia. Stay awake until at least 9pm. Otherwise, the jet lag will be much worse throughout your vacation. Most hotels will store your bags for you and bring them up to your room when it is ready. Your job is to get out into the city and explore.
Traveler’s Tip: Resist the urge to take a nap on day one!
We like to book a short tour on the first day. If you’re in Sydney, go on a hop on, hop off Harbour Cruise and/or take a tour of the Sydney Opera House. Maybe spoil yourself with an extravagant lunch (May we suggest GRAZE in The Rocks? It’s amazing!) and then check out the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia or the Royal Botanical Gardens before heading back to your hotel for the night.
If you’re in Melbourne, maybe do a city tour to explore the hidden laneways and arcades or hop on the City Circle Tram. This free mode of transportation stops at many places of interest like Federation Square, Melbourne Aquarium and Parliament House. There is also a free tourism shuttle bus with on-board commentary. Look for red signs that indicate the bus stops. It runs every 30 minutes between 9:30am and 4:30pm.
If you follow these suggestions you can avoid serious jet lag and start enjoying your Australian vacation straight away.
Are you ready to start planning your trip to Australia? Talk to one of our Destination Specialists today. We’ll make sure you have an easy and enjoyable vacation!
Phone us Toll Free on 1-888-359-2877 (CT USA, M-F 8.30am – 5pm).
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