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Sooner or later in the next few months my money is going to run out and I'll have to get back to Australia from some point in Europe.

Since Europe is big and many fares vary significantly from season to season, I'd like to know if there are some particularly cheap ways to fly from Europe to Australia.

I'll likely be around the centre / east of Europe and I'm hitchhiking so I can get to anywhere the cheapest flight departs from. Only Russia and Ukraine are out that I can think of.

I'd guess I will have to fly some time between about September and November. So I'm interested in the cheapest special offers and cheapest regular economy seasonal prices both for that time period, but also for the whole year in case I should aim for different period to catch a bargain.

I don't mind really long flights or routes that pass through many places, or if I have to fly first to somewhere in Asia and then buy another ticket. (Japan or Korea would be great!)

Because I have so much flexibility with place of departure and timeframe it's just about impossible to use a flight search engine for this. What's needed is somebody who has flown extensively in this area or who has access to travel agency booking systems and loves working out tricky routes, or just having spotted advertising for a special offer.

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General hint is to keep an eye out for special offers, especially from places like Greece. One of the middle eastern airlines had some stunningly good Athens-Australia fares a few months back, I think you could do return in business for just over €1000! They only come up rarely, and not for long though... –  Gagravarr Jun 11 '12 at 8:56
    
Athens would be perfect. I have a friend with a couch I can crash on there ... and I've never been there yet (-: –  hippietrail Jun 11 '12 at 9:01
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Keep an eye out then. With the financial crisis, there's been a big drop-off in leisure travel, so the airlines are often (but not always) doing good deals –  Gagravarr Jun 11 '12 at 10:03
    
I ended up using Skyscanner and [Matrix](matrix.itasoftware.com) a lot to hunt for fares. Flights out of Istanbul were always cheaper than anywhere further west. The best deal I found was Tehran->Sydney but that's outside the scope here and I didn't take it anyway. Next were Istanbul to Melbourne or Sydney on China Southern or Malaysian. But I opted to spend $50 more to first come and spend some more time in Korea on Etihad and will fly from Seoul to Melbourne on China Southern. –  hippietrail Oct 4 '12 at 3:35
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3 Answers

Flying one-way with many of the major carriers is normally far more expensive than half of a return due to the way airlines price flights. That leaves you with three options :

  • Find a major airline that doesn't bump prices for one-way (as much). Malaysian is one that springs to mind, and their one-way flights are normally cheaper than other major airlines.

  • Use frequent flyer points, if you have any. Most airlines allow one-way flights on FF miles, and they are frequently one of the best way to use your miles. Given that most people that pickup hitch-hikers don't give out FF miles, I suspect this may not be a good option for you :)

  • Check out the discount carriers, who normally price flights the same regardless of whether it's one-way or return.

Unfortunately the major Australia<-->Europe low-cost carrier, AirAsiaX, pulled out of the Europe market a few months ago. At this time I don't believe that there's any single LCC's that fly Europe to Australia, so you'll need to look at flying 2 different carriers - which probably means you'll want to plan at least a night wherever you're connecting.

Picking two carriers at random - Air Berlin from Berlin to Kuala Lumpur and AirAsia from Kuala Lumpur to Sydney - for a random date I selected in November, flights are available for ~400 Euro + ~A$200, or less than 600 Euro all up. That's compared to about 900 Euro for the cheapest of the major airlines that I can see for those same airports any time in November.

You might want to check out FlightFox, where you can offer a small bounty to croudsource finding the cheapest prices for a flight - although I'm not sure if it supports your concept of "somewhere in Europe" as opposed to a specific airport/region.

If you are coming back through Asia in November, keep in mind that the full moon on the 28th of November is a fairly major event in many Asia countries, and would be a good time to spend a few days in Asia. I'll be in Thailand for Loi Krathong, but many countries have celebrations of some form or other.

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Flightfox is new to me, that's very interesting! –  Mark Mayo Jun 11 '12 at 5:45
    
+1 just for mentioning Flightfox - this is new to me too. :) –  Ben Parsons Jun 11 '12 at 9:50
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I tried to use FlightFox a few weeks ago but was not impressed. Using airninja and hipmunk myself resulted in the same kind of deal as offered through FlightFox. –  MastaBaba Jun 11 '12 at 12:30
    
@MastaBaba - having now spent a lot of time on there since this post, I can confirm that sometimes, you won't be beaten, but other times I was blown away by their prices. I now compete as an expert on there too, and I'm regularly shocked - would love to know how they find some of these prices. –  Mark Mayo Aug 23 '12 at 21:32
    
@mark, I can imagine, particularly with flights on more popular and competitive routes. Though even then, I would love to be amazed. It's a bummer that the bulk of my flights are to comparatively unpopular destinations, meaning that my options are very limited. :) –  MastaBaba Aug 23 '12 at 21:45
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The easiest way to get a cheap flight is to use one of the three dicount airlines that fly into/out of Australia - Scoot (Singapore), Tiger (Singapore-Perth), AirAsia (KL) and Jetstar (destinations). Then find the cheapest available flight linking with an airport serviced by one of these three, since cheap flights into Australia are usually the limiting factor.

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Shouldn't Tiger be on this list too? Any others? –  hippietrail Jul 1 '12 at 9:12
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Tiger only flies into Perth which generally means adding another hop, but it's getting added. –  dlanod Jul 1 '12 at 9:44
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I was just recently introduced to Skyscanner, which has some interesting search options. You can specify "Everywhere" as your destination, and "Whole Year" as your timeframe.

It will then show you the lowest fares and the corresponding travel dates to any destination.

If your timeframe is particularly flexible, this might be a good way to find really good fares.

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