Sydney is Australia's main international hub, though it is also easy to get international flights to Melbourne, Brisbane, Cairns, and Perth. You can catch nonstop or one-stop flights to Australia from New York (21 hours via Los Angeles); Chicago (19 hours via Los Angeles); Los Angeles (14 hours nonstop); Vancouver (14 hours nonstop); Toronto (20 hours via Los Angeles or Vancouver); and London (20–24 hours via Hong Kong, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Dubai, or Bangkok).
Because Pacific-route flights from the United States to Australia cross the international date line, you lose a day, but regain it on the journey home.
Air Pass Information
Qantas Walkabout Air Pass. 800/227–4500; 13–1313; www.qantas.com.au.
Regional Express. 13–1713; www.rex.com.au.
Visit Australia and New Zealand Pass. www.oneworld.com.
Airline Security Issues
Transportation Security Administration. 866/289–9673; www.tsa.gov.
Sydney Airport (SYD) is Australia's main air hub and the first port of call for more than half of the country's visitors. Terminal 1 is for all international flights, Qantas and Qantaslink domestic flights operate out of Terminal 3, and Terminal 2 is for all other domestic flights (including Virgin Australia, Tigerair, and Jetstar). A rail link connects the terminals underground, and frequent shuttle buses run between them aboveground. There is an excellent range of shops and restaurants in the international terminal.
Brisbane International Airport (BNE) is southern Queensland's main airport and rivals Sydney's in quality and services. There are separate domestic and international terminals. Cairns International Airport (CNS), in north Queensland, is the hub for northern Queensland and visits to the Great Barrier Reef.
Melbourne Airport (MEL) is sometimes known as "Tullamarine," after a neighboring suburb. International flights leave from Terminal 2; Qantas and Jetstar use Terminal 1 for their domestic operations. Virgin Australia makes up the bulk of the other domestic flights, which go from Terminal 3. Tigerair flies from Terminal 4.
South Australia's main airport is Adelaide International (ADL). Domestic flights and a few services to nearby Asian cities land at Darwin International Airport (DRW) in the Northern Territory. The hub for the Red Centre is Alice Springs Airport (ASP), which only receives domestic flights. Perth International Airport (PER) is the gateway to Western Australia. International flights operate from Terminal 1; most Qantas and Qantaslink domestic flights leave from Terminal 4. Terminal 2 and 3 host Virgin Australia, Jetstar, Tigerair, Alliance Airlines, and some Qantas regional services.
Adelaide Airport. 08/8308–9211; www.adelaideairport.com.au.
Alice Springs Airport. 08/8951–1211; www.alicespringsairport.com.au.
Brisbane Airport. 07/3406–3000; www.bne.com.au.
Cairns Airport. 07/4080–6703; www.cairnsairport.com.
Darwin International Airport. 08/8920–1811; www.darwinairport.com.au.
Melbourne Airport. 03/9297–1600; www.melbourneairport.com.au.
Perth Airport. 08/9478–8888; www.perthairport.com.au.
Sydney Airport. 02/9667–9111; www.sydneyairport.com.au.
Qantas is Australia's flagship carrier. It operates direct flights to Sydney from New York, San Francisco, and Los Angeles, and from Los Angeles to Melbourne and Brisbane. There are connecting Qantas flights to many other North American cities, and direct flights from various Australian airports to many Asian and European destinations. It's part of Oneworld Alliance, and has excellent standards of safety and comfort. Qantas flights aren't always the cheapest, but their Walkabout Air Pass includes three stops within Australia for the same price as your ticket from North America.
Jetstar is a low-cost local airline owned by Qantas, and has flights from Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Cairns, Perth, Adelaide, and Darwin to Bali, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, and Honolulu. Virgin Australia and Virgin Samoa fly to Tonga, Samoa, Fiji, Vanuatu, New Zealand, Indonesia, and the Cook Islands, while Virgin Australia-owned budget airline Tigerair Australia flies direct from select cities to Bali and to other Asian destinations through affiliate carriers.
Air New Zealand. 1800/262–1234; 13–2476; www.airnewzealand.com.au.
British Airways. 1800/247–9297; 1300/767177; www.britishairways.com.
Cathay Pacific. 1800/233–2742; 13–1747; www.cathaypacific.com.
Qantas. 1800/227–4500; 13–1313; www.qantas.com.au.
United. 1800/864--8331; 13–1777; www.united.com.
Virgin Australia. 1855/253–8021; 13–6789; www.virginaustralia.com.
Australia's large distances mean that flying is usually the locals' favorite way of getting from one city to another. In general, safety standards on domestic flights are high, flights are punctual, and there's plenty of timetable choice. On routes between popular destinations like Sydney, Melbourne, and Brisbane there are often several flights each hour.
Airnorth. 1800/627474; www.airnorth.com.au.
Jetstar. 13–1538; www.jetstar.com.
Qantas. 13–1313; www.qantas.com.au.
Regional Express. 13–1713; www.rex.com.au.
Tigerair. 02/8073--3421; www.tigerair.com.