First there are two major ways to travel to Australia. You can travel via Air Canada or one of its affiliate airlines (eg. Singapore Airlines) or you can travel via Quantas. We elected to travel via Air Canada because we used Aeroplan airmiles. Quantas doesn’t recognize Aeroplan. The advantage and disadvantages of each travel option is outlined below:
- Aeroplan/Air Canada only flies to Sydney. Therefore if you are flying anywhere else in Australia you must use one of the domestic carriers. The problem with the domestic carriers is the luggage restrictions that are discussed later in more detail. The advantage of flying using Aeroplan points and Air Canada is that you are entitled to one stop along the way. We elected to stop over in Singapore. Using Aeroplan points the total cost of our flight to Australia was approximately $400/person. Hence a very appealing option.
- Quantas fly’s to numerous destinations within Australia and offers three one way stops while in Australia. For example you can fly into Sydney, stay awhile and then fly onto Adelaide, then fly to another location and subsequently fly back to Canada from there. It is an excellent option for seeing a lot of Australia. You must book your itinerary while you are outside Australia and you must provide the airline with your arrival and departure dates. Total cost of the ticket is approximately $2000/person. This option is very attractive for the tourist visiting Australia. However, we elected to forego this option because the duration of our stay is one year and we would end up “dead-heading” our three flights back to Adelaide. In addition, we didn’t know Gail’s school holiday schedule for the year and thus were unable to pre-book the three flights within Australia.
We strongly suggest that if you are booking a flight to Australia and contemplating any domestic flight(s) within Australia, that you check/confirm luggage restrictions. This advice applies to any SE Asian Airline as well. Our problems with luggage and weight restrictions are outlined below. Hopefully our experience makes planning for your trip a little less painful.
- For economy class flights, Air Canada has a weight restriction of two bags per person each weighing 23 kilos (50 lbs). Air Canada’s final destination in Australia is Sydney. If you decide to fly internally within Australia, then you must book your flight with a domestic airline. The domestic airlines only allow each person one bag with a maximum allowance of 23 kilos. If you have excess weight, the airlines will charge you $10/kilos. Therefore, if you arrive in Australia with two bags each weighing 23 kilos you can be charged an additional cost of $430 to transport the additional bag. Of course Air Canada doesn’t tell you this because they are only concerned with getting you to Sydney. Our travel advisor with Aeroplan did not tell us anything. He just advised us that we would have to book a flight between Sydney and Adelaide using a domestic airline.
It should be noted that if you pre-book your domestic flight and let the airlines know in advance that you have excess baggage, they will reduce the $10/kilo fee, by approximately 50%. However, in our opinion, a fee of $215 for 23 kilos is still excessive.
- We have no idea what weight allowance Quantas allows when flying between Canada and Australia. Now that we are in Australia, we know that they have the same one baggage, 23 kilo restriction per person for domestic economy class flights. If you elect to fly with Quantas and take the three stop flight option, we suggest that while you are in Canada you confirm weight allowances prior to booking your domestic flights within Australia.
- After our 5 day stay in Singapore, we arrived at the Singapore Airport with our luggage. At the airport, we discovered that Singapore Air has a one bag 23 kilo per person weight restriction and does not recognize Air Canada’s two baggage 23 kilo per bag allowance. According to Singapore Air’s baggage restriction, we were 46 kilos overweight and the airline was going to charge us 460 ($10/kilo) for the excess baggage. They did not recognize the one stop lay over that was provided to us by Air Canada and stated that we were starting a “new flight” with a new airline and hence the Air Canada baggage allowance did not apply. After a lengthy discussion, providing documentation of our Aeroplan/Air Canada flight plan and baggage agreement, and 3 separate meetings with various levels of “management” within Singapore Airlines, they finally waived the $460 fee and accepted Air Canada’s baggage agreement. It was just fortunate that we had left ourselves plenty of time (six hours) to catch our flight otherwise we would have been hooped. We were subsequently advised by Singapore Air that if our luggage had been booked through straight to Sydney, that there would not have been an issue. Again, our travel advisor with Aeroplan did not tell us about booking luggage straight through to Sydney.
- Upon arriving in Sydney, we recognized that flying our excess baggage to Adelaide was not an option. We received a number of quotes from couriers and transport companies and finally agreed upon shipping our bags to Kadina by truck transport. Peter, the Concierge at the hotel, and Jill, an Australian teacher in Adelaide who was on a previous exchange program in Edmonton, were both extremely helpful in solving our luggage dilemma. In addition we are so fortunate to have Leon (family member of Shannon and Riang - our exchange partners) willing to receive our luggage for us. Thank you all for your assistance.
I guess the morale of this is to travel “LIGHT!!” or don’t take any domestic flights. We have a year to figure out the best way to ship our baggage back to Canada. At this point we think that we will donate most of our clothes to Good Will and see about selling our golf clubs. Once we get back to Canada, we think it is time that we got some new clubs anyways. Hopefully when you come and visit, you’ll leave a spot in your bag for our junk!