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Flights from USA to Australia: Direct and via Other Destinations

One of your first considerations in planning your vacation in Australia is how you are going to get there.  For most of us, with limited vacation days, that means airline flights. So what are your options in booking flights from USA to Australia?  Should you fly direct?  Or make a stopover?

How long are flights from USA to Australia?

A direct flight from the west coast of mainland USA to the east coast of Australia will take between 13 and 14 hours of flight time. Allow 2 vacation days just for travel when planning your Australian vacation.

Mainland USA departure airports for direct flights include Los Angeles (LAX) and San Francisco (SFO), and as of May 16, 2011 direct flights to Dallas, Texas will also be on offer. Unless you live in or near one of these cities you will also have to make a domestic flight within the USA to meet the flights from USA to Australia.

Australian east coast arrival cities for direct flights are, Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne. The list goes from north to south, so flights to Brisbane are shorter than flights to Sydney or Melbourne.

Of course after 12 hours in the air, I’m not sure an extra ½ hour is going to make a big difference!

Airlines with Direct and Indirect Flights from USA to Australia

Airlines with Direct and Indirect Flights from USA to Australia

UPDATE! October 2014!

DFW (Dallas Fort Worth) to SYD (Sydney Mascot) Direct!

Qantas will be flying the return leg, QF8 directly into Sydney from October 2014. The equipment on this route will also be updated from a Boeing 747 to an Airbus A380.

Airlines with Direct Flights from USA to Australia?

Three airlines fly direct flights from USA to Australia.

Qantas Airways is Australia’s national airline and part of the One World frequent flyer alliance. Qantas operates code share flights for American Airlines. Direct flights from the USA to Australia may be booked on American Airlines, but you will fly on Qantas metal.

Qantas operates both Boeing 747 aircraft and the new Airbus A380 for flights from USA to Australia. Both types of aircraft are configured in a 4 class arrangement: Economy, Premium Economy, Business Class and First Class.

New! Qantas to start Sydney to Dallas direct flights on May 16 2011! Great news for travellers from central to eastern US. Fantastic deals for the first months of flying.

One catch though! Due to the extended distance (assumption!), direct flights from Australia fly the Sydney to Dallas direct route, and return flights are direct into Brisbane (Dallas to Brisbane). Qantas are due to take delivery of further A380 aircraft though, which likely will allow Dallas to Sydney routing.

Read more about the Sydney to Dallas route...

New! Qantas cancels Sydney to San Francisco direct flights from May 14, 2011. The decision is said to be a commercial one, as flights into DFW *Dallas Forth Worth) Airport better access to the American Airlines network with whom Qantas is partnered in the One World Alliance. The decision also leaves the Sydney to SanFrancisco route to United Airlines (who are hubbed out of San Francisco).

United Airlines, operates code share flights on direct routings for Star Alliance airlines on Boeing 747 aircraft. Again, you will find a four class configuration on board.

V Australia, backed by Richard Branson, is a recent entrant onto the lucrative USA to Australia direct route flying Boeing 777’s in a 3 class configuration: Economy, premium Economy and Business Class. V Australia partners with a number of US airlines for Domestic connections in the USA, including Alaska Airlines, Delta, Continental and US Airways. In Australia, they partner with Virgin Australia, Richard Branson’s domestic airline.

Airlines with Indirect Flights from USA to Australia

This list of airlines is limited only by your imagination! Routings through Asia and the South Pacific, open up a number itinerary for those with time on their hands.

Some possible options for indirect flights from the USA to Australia include:

NEW!! Via Hawaii to New York City on Hawaiian Airlines (Nov 17, 2011)

Starting June 4, 2012, Hawaiian Airlines adds a new direct service to New York City (JFK) to its stable of flights serving the west coast of the USA. Hawaiian Airlines already provide price competitive fares between Australia (Sydney) and Hawaii, which means a two stop service between NYC and Sydney, with the option of a stopover in the Aloha state.

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Introductory deals are now available, but do note that the NYC to Sydney leg will require a stay in Honolulu - not to tough if you have time on your side...

Hawaiian Airlines will fly an Airbus A330 on the Honolulu to NYC (JFK International Airport), but with its business class configuration sporting recliners rather than fully flat beds provided by other Carriers, the route is unlikely to appeal to business travellers as much as vacation makers looking for some extra space on the 10 hour flight.

Via New Zealand on Air New Zealand.

Air New Zealand is also part of the Star Alliance, and has recently introduced the option of a economy class sleeper “Skycouch” making the long flight across the pacific more comfortable. Air New Zealand’s skycouch is made up of a recliner style footrest that rises to fill the gap between your seat and the seat in front of you.

They are sold in sets of 3—two seats at standard economy prices and one at approximately half the standard economy fare. The skycouch will launch in Noverber 2010 on Air New Zealand’s new Boeing 777’s on flights from LAX to Auckland.

Via Fiji on Air Pacific

Island hop your way across the pacific, with a stop in Fiji, or any of the other islands on Air Pacific’s routing. Collect frequent flyer miles under the One World Alliance.

Via Hawaii and Guam on Continental Airlines

Continental airlines have one of the most imaginative routings. For a star alliance mileage boost consider flights from USA to Australia that route through Hawaii and Guam. This routing also has you land in Cairns, a popular holiday destination in Australia.

NEW!!! Via New Zealand on Continental Airlines

Continental Airlines commence direct services from Houston (IAH) to Auckland, New Zealand using newly delivered Boeing 787 Dreamliners from November 2011. From Auckland, passengers have access to Star Alliance partner, Air New Zealand's, extensive South Pacific network, including flights into Sydney,Melbourne and Brisbane.

Update: Delayed until sometime 2012 due to Boeing 787 Dreamliner delivery delays

Update: It's on again! Though scheduled for a November 16, 2011 start date, United's Houston to Aukland direct service is now stated to start early to mid 2012. This route is entirely dependent on the delivery of United's (inherited through the Continental merger) Boeing 787 Dreamliner planes. So watch for news not only on this routing by United's delivery of the new Boeing aircraft.

Update: Continental, now United Airlines never did get this routing up and running, but Star Alliance member, Air New Zealand did. Fly via Auckland to Houston from Australia on a service that includes Air New Zealand's sky couch.

Via Tahiti on Air Tahiti

Air Tahiti also has an agreement with the Oneworld airline alliance. Enjoy a french polynesian stopover on the way to Austrlalia..

Flights from USA to Australia – Price, Comfort, and Frequent Flyer Miles

There is no simple one size fits all routing for flights from USA to Australia. How much time you have, your commitment to a frequent flyer alliance, price and comfort factors will all play a part in your decision.

Flights from USA to Australia – Price

Australia’s southern hemisphere seasons are the reverse of those in the USA. Therefore, peak season covers Christmas which coincides with the busy summer travel season. The month between mid December and mid January is probably the most expensive time for booking flights from USA to Australia.

Fortunately, with new airlines entering the highly profitable pacific crossing market, prices are being kept down. Periodically you will notice deals that get you across the pacific for well under $1000. These fares often include discounted domestic travel passes. Details of Qantas’ Aussie AirPass are found at the link.

Flights from USA to Australia - Comfort

If comfort is your priority for long-haul flights from USA to Australia, check out It provides detailed layouts of each airlines aircraft, including pitch and width of seats.

One airlines economy section isn’t the same as another’s. And even within the same airline, economy class on one type for aircraft may be more comfortable than another’s. Case in point: The economy class seat on Qantas’ Boeing 747 service is 17.5” wide, whereas the economy class seat on its Airbus A380 service is 18.1” wide. Also the A380 provides laptop power in the economy cabin. Being able to run your laptop for the entire 13 hour duration on flights from USA to Australia is a bonus.

Flights from USA to Australia – Frequent Flyer Miles

The frequent flyer alliance is rapidly becoming a two horse race between the Star Alliance and One World Airlines. There are multiple options for flights from USA to Australia within each alliance. My personal opinion is that the continued devaluation of frequent flyer miles and shortening of point expiry periods makes loyalty to one airline or alliance uneconomic.

One exception, though, is using your Australian vacation and the long-haul flights from USA to Australia to fast-track your frequent flyer membership to a premium level.

More about travelling to Australia


Carly Wyatt (author) on April 14, 2010:

Jeanne, Thanks for reading! The routing goes from Honolulu to Guam, then Cairns on Continental Micronesia.

Continental flew into Sydney many years ago (late 80's) but now the only Australian destination (that I can find) is with Continental Micronesia through Guam. Unless you count the routings on United (Continental is now part of the Star Alliance).

Jeanne Crouse from New England on April 14, 2010:

Quick question on Continental's routing to Australia - you mentioned you can fly into Cairns from Honolulu and Guam? How does this work - must you go to Guam first? Aren't all flights from Honolulu only into Sydney?

I never knew Continental was allowed to fly to Australia - thanks for the insight into new ways to fly there.

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