Australia seriesAustralia Day 1--Qantas flight 8 DFW-BNE (Dallas to Brisbane)
Australia Day 2--Flight to Sydney, the Westin Sydney hotel & sightseeing
Australia Days 3/4--Hunter Valley & the Blue Mountains
Australia Day 5--Sydney sightseeing and Manly Beach
Australia Day 6--Paddy's Market, Bondi to Coogee Walk & Darling Harbour
Australia Day 7--Sydney to Cairns, Holiday Inn Cairns & the Cairns Esplanade
Australia Day 8--The Great Barrier Reef
Australia Day 9--Kuranda Koala Gardens, Skyrail & Tjapukai Aboriginal Cultural Park
Australia Day 10--Daintree Rainforest & Cape Tribulation
Australia Day 11--Going home, Part 1, Cairns to Brisbane
Australia Day 11--Going home, Part 2, Brisbane to Honolulu
IntroductionIn July 2014, I took my dream trip to Australia. Many people are deterred from going to Australia because it is so far away and because it can be very expensive. I will detail what I did everyday and talk about how I stayed on my set budget of $1,000, which includes all meals, transportation and activities for 11 days.
The FlightThe first key, and probably most important, to traveling cheap is to not pay for a flight. Well, award flights to Australia in business or first class are extremely tough to get, especially if you're trying to book multiple tickets, like for a family. You basically need to book as soon as the schedule opens (330 days in advance). Luckily, I only needed a ticket for myself, but availability was still pretty limited. I noticed coach availability was fairly open, but that wasn't what I wanted for such a long flight. One thing that probably helped me was that I was going in July, which is winter in Australia. I think it would have been tougher to find a seat if going November-January.
Anyhow, I was able to locate and book my flights in October 2013, using 125,000 American AAdvantage miles for round-trip business class. I accumulated the miles through credit card sign up bonuses, credit card spending & doing many different AA miles promos. It cost me $153.30 in taxes.
On my travel day, I arrived at the airport only about 90 minutes early. Check-in was very easy and the security line was short and moved quickly. I headed straight to the Qantas lounge in Terminal D. I wished I had more time to spend in the lounge, but grabbed a few snacks & glass of wine, and soon they were calling for boarding. The gate area was very busy, but I got to stand in the boarding line for business class. When I stepped on the plane, a 747-400, the flight attendant looked at my boarding pass, pointed the way & said "you have the best seat in the house." "That's what I hoped," I replied.
I was absolutely thrilled with my seat, 5J. It was an aisle & window all in one.
|Lots of storage space|
|Tons of leg room|
|Nice Kate Spade bag amenity kit|
I enjoyed a pre-departure glass of champagne while studying the menu. I looked around at the other folks in business class. I wondered did they pay $7,000+ for tickets or do they know the free flights "secret" like me. Or maybe they got an inexpensive upgrade from economy tickets??
|Dinner options (click to enlarge)|
|Beverages (click to enlarge)|
|My first pair of airline pajamas!|
After the seatbelt sign was off, I headed to the lavatory to put on my jammies :)
Dinner was the only snafu. Before take-off, I had requested the chicken schnitzel when the FA came around to take orders. Shortly after take-off, I was served bread, green leaf salad & champagne.
|Bread, salad and champagne|
|Flight path on the IFE screen|
Breakfast came out about two hours before we reached Brisbane (I noticed the Aussies pronounce it like Briz-bin).
|Mmmm crispy bacon, just the way I like it|
All-in-all, it was a fantastic flight. Definitely not a bad way to spend 16 hours. The seat was amazing. The flight attendants were pleasant and friendly.
|Goodbye big jumbo jet|
This is my second trip to fly international business class (last year I flew United BusinessFirst & Lufthansa business to & from Italy). I really appreciate that miles & points gives me the chance to experience luxury at a low price.