Question for PAX going to Australia/New Zealand
PAX who have been to Australia/New Zealand
Best airline to get there? Take cruiseline air fare (Princess) or do it yourself?
We would arrive in Sydney and leave from Auckland.
If you arranged through the airline, did everything go well? how many stops?
We have traveled down to Australia three times now. We always take the cruise lines air only because it is much cheaper than booking that open jaw ourselves(can save us well over $1000). You never know what airline the cruise lines will assign you too, and it really does make a huge difference. We have flown over or back on Air NewZealand (which was quite nice), Singapore Airlines (which was very nice), and United (which is not very good but it does get you there or back). Flights on Air New Zealand and Singapore Airlines are set up better for International travel with foot rests and private TV screens for each seat, even in economy. Where as United has nothing like that, same planes you would use to fly a short distance in the states, unfortunately.
We have found that when booking the cruise lines air even when paying the deviation fee to arrive a few days early or to stay a few days afterward, they put you on flights with pretty bad connections. Now if you happen to be flying out of LAX then you wouldn't have to worry much about that. But if you have to change planes several times (like we did) then sometimes it is a hassle. In November we flew back again on United Airlines and although it was one of the better flights back from Sydney flying with United, we had a 7 hour layover in San Fran which was very unpleasent after that long flight.
So, it all depends on if you are looking for comfort or looking to save money. To save money, book the cruise lines air. But it isn't always the nicest or most comfortable flights. And just for reference. If you do choose the cruise lines air fare the tickets that you will be issued are NON upgradeable. No matter how many miles you might have on an airline, they will not let you use them to upgrade to business class because of the class of ticket they purchase for you (the very cheapest). We found out the hard way as I had been told by a previous TA that we could do that, WRONG info!
But, each flight gets you there, it all depends on the comfort level you are looking for.
Best of Luck, and have a great trip down under!
Toto's right as far as she went, but if you pay for an air deviation, you can also get on the web and specify which airlines you want. We've been told in the past that it might incur a higher charge, but we have never encountered that.
We usually do an air deviation, and I pick the precise flights I want every leg of the way. Then the cruise lines make the reservations, and we pay the air deviation fee, which still is cheaper than if we'd bought the air ourselves on open jaws flights.
As soon as the TA says I have the flights, I call the airlines and get pick the seats right away before the selection is minimal.
An air deviation also prevents us from being put on the Princess charter cattlecars. One trip back from Istanbul in one of those was enough for us! Just for the record, if you just say, "Yes I'll take the cruise line's air," you run the risk of being placed on a regularly-scheduled flight or on a charter. If it's a long flight, you might want to be the one to make that choice by paying the air deviation fee.
We have downunder 3 times in the last 2 years on United, AirNZ and Air Canada. They all offered the same room in economy but we found the cabin service on Air NZ to be superior. Our best flight was with United, business class, which we lucked in and got great deal through Princess. It definately helps to make that first morning in Sydney more enjoyable.