Holy Smokes: United Airlines US-Australia From $385 Roundtrip!

Yesterday I wrote about some amazing airfares on United Airlines between the US and Australia.

The fares were ~ $550 roundtrip from many of Delta’s hubs — not a mistake fare, but clearly a fare war aimed at Delta. Those fares are still available.

  • The fares appear available through at least end of November for the outbound flight.
  • You can’t return until 10 days from your departure to qualify for the fare.
  • Fares are non-refundable and there’s a $300 change fee.


View of the Sydney Opera House from the Park Hyatt Sydney

Fares work from Delta’s hubs at:

  • Minneapolis
  • Seattle
  • Salt Lake City
  • Atlanta
  • Detroit

And travel is permitted to Sydney, Melbourne, and Brisbane.

SecretFlying points out that you can get the fare down as low as $380 by starting in any of these cities and returning to Los Angeles.

That appears to only be available for trips that depart May 1 through June 21 or August 1 through August 31.

This is a sample Atlanta – Melbourne and return to Los Angeles:

Here’s a breakdown of the fare.

Note that the return Melbourne – Los Angeles segment is just $36! Also note that the fare basis is L on the outbound and G on the return, both of which earn 100% of flown miles when crediting to the Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer program.

I don’t think I’ve ever seen US-Australia pricing this cheap.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Thank you, Gary — but using both ITA Matrix and the official Internet web site of United Airlines for those same dates, the lowest airfare I can see is $572.46 — still a good airfare; but not $385.56.

    Perhaps I am doing something incorrectly…?

  2. Are any of these fares upgradeable using UA miles? I’m Platinum so don’t have any GPUs, only RPUs? I can’t imagine flying that long in coach, but this seems like a great opportunity to earn some PQMs cheaply

  3. Thank you, Gary.

    Some money can be saved on a one-way flight back to Atlanta versus booking a round-trip airfare: $97.00 on Frontier nonstop; $104.00 on Spirit nonstop; and $114.00 on American Airlines with one stop.

  4. I’m seeing the $380ish fares in May and June, but none in August. Has anyone found example dates in August? I’m going through trying all the combos that I can now.

  5. Was wondering how long it would take someone to blog about this 😉 FWIW you can route via SFO on the way back to LA if say you live in NorCal and all of a sudden remember that’s where you parked your car (not like I would ever do such a thing) Also kids’ fares were ~$100 cheaper

    SFO-SYD will finally make me a Million Miler 🙂

  6. @Michelle S do you actually object to this being written about on the internet too? (I wrote about the $550 fares yesterday, just not the $380 variant)

    Thanks for the tip about routing back via SFO!

  7. Hi-Thanks for the helpful information thus far. I am writing to ask for a little more! 🙂
    I had already hoped to go skiing in Aus this summer (bought Mountain Collective pass) so if I can figure out this deal it would be great. I live near LA so flying back Mel-LAX is actually better for me! But I cannot find that fare. I am getting good fares for outbound such as SLC-Mel for $262. Any help on the return would be super appreciated! Perhaps I am too late?
    Thanks so much!
    Jennifer H.

  8. Apologies – I should have mentioned dates. I was trying around August 12-22nd but there is flexibility (trying not to leave before 12th though if possible). Thanks so much!

  9. Still pricing at around $385 I farelocked ATL – MEL – LAX in May (I think the 10 day minimum stay may still apply)

  10. Thanks Gary! If you – or anyone! – sees specific August dates please let me know! I tried quite a few with no luck but will try again later when I have a little more time. Really would have been a dream! Thanks again!!!

  11. And to fly the other way? I’m looking Perth-LA in August. Hoping perhaps these deals will become available?

  12. I think the fare rules are doing folks a favor by not allowing them to immediately return. Having done this trip in coach several times, it’s not exactly “fun.” It’s a freakin’ long trip.

    It’s certainly worth it for a vacation, though. Which is the only reason to do it, with UA having gone to a revenue-based ff program. You certainly won’t earn a meaningful number of frequent flyer miles on these tickets (unless you can credit them to another program?).

    I don’t think they will actually sell that many tickets because few people will spontaneously decide they want to spend 10 days in Australia. At least a lot fewer than if you offered $200 tickets for a weekend in Europe. Of course, if you have the time and want to go, it’s a great deal.

  13. I’m going first time to Australia in 2016 twice. Once on miles, second time taking the family. There have been a lot of deals there lately. I even shared this deal with friends which I rarely do.

  14. Trying to find a deal out of Detroit for our Canadian family of four to take a once in a lifetime amazing trip to Australia! Can’t seem to find decent fairs through this promotion. Can anyone help?/We are hoping for the fall and are very flexible. Thanks!

  15. Hey, These flight deals are really great! I’m in Aus – and want to go AUS – USA – AUS …. Is there any reciprocal deal for Aussies coming to the US? I do hope so! If not, whats the lowest price and dates/destinations to fly with united return from Aus? Thanks, Tara

  16. Gary,
    I need cheapie RT flights Sydney-Chicago in late June-early July during peak pricing time. Any tips? To make my brother’s wedding. Anything $1000 $AUD and under would be wonderful. I can even live with a heinous stop over in a Fiji or the like…

    Scott in Sydney

  17. Best to go in Dec-March, when it’s summer in Australia. It’s fine to.visit the city when the weather is colder, but for a once-in-a-lifetime trip for your family, you really don’t want to miss out on the gorgeous beaches. It might be worth it to spend a bit more on plane fare and go during Australia’s summertime.

  18. I’d argue that Melbourne is lovely in the US summer, and that you can visit the beaches up North, it’s a lovely time in North Queensland!

  19. Hi @Jackie! I’ve seen a lot of round trip flights in the $550 range Detroit -> Melbourne -> Detroit leaving August 22. For example, Momondo.com is calculating at $547 RT for August 22nd-September 1 or September 4. (I’m personally looking for a long backpacking stay and have seen this fare carry into a return as far out as November, so you can definitely poke around with return dates.) Best of luck!

  20. Do you know if I can book this flight leaving Atlanta but only use the flight from Los Angeles to Melbourne?

  21. I was just about to book… around 8:45am. Went to a meeting, called the wife to confirm, and bang. All the rates are above $1000/person. I priced it at $1500 for a family of 3 originally.

  22. I have been looking up itineraries from SLC–>Sydney for the past hour. United just bumped up their prices to a more-normal level.

    Makes me think they just changed their algorithm and the deal’s no longer happening, at least from SLC. Anyone else seeing the same thing?

  23. Ugh – can’t get the price. Dying to get our family of 5 to Australia to see my husband’s mom, who’s in her 80’s. Must follow this blog – need to get there on the cheap. Thanks for the info!

  24. Is this still a thing? I just checked on the United website and it just gives me the regular pricing….

  25. The outbound flight from SEA to SYD also happens to stop in SFO. What if I forget my car isn’t parked in SEA, can I still catch the connecting flight or will they cancel?

    Tried to search the same itinerary (6/1 SEA to SYD and 6/13 SYD to LAX) and it’s $404 per Google Flights and United website.

  26. Anyone would happen to know what the cheapest way from NYC to Melbourne would be … End of October until mid November …

  27. I’m looking now at return flights from Detroit to Sydney in May and they’re all about $2650 AUD .. ? way cheaper to fly Qantas

  28. Hi Gary,
    Quite a few Aussies trying to get similar deals from our homeland to the States. Anything for us please? Sydney LAX Sydney (using those hubs or not).

  29. @Alina I posted on this last night, under US$800 for July – November Sydney – Los Angeles travel [and under US$675 if you fly Fiji Airways via Nadi]

  30. The Australian winter is great time to visit Australia especially in the north around Cairns and also Brisbane and the Gold Coast. It’s not too hot, tends not to rain that time of year and the water is warm.

    Even Sydney & Melbourne have very mild winters compared to most of the USA. There is no snow and if you are acclimatized to the USA’s weather you’ll probably find it’s not that cold at all. Melbourne can get a bit drizzly though with some constant light rain.

  31. please help, I need to go to Brisbane from salt lake city Utah, i am more than happy to return through LAX, i do not know what link to clink on and how to do the fares if this makes any sense, my travel dates are 6/30 through to 7/11 can anyone help where im able to get these cheap fares as when I went to book yesterday on United the fares had already gone yup

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