How to fly to every Australian state and territory in a single day
Yes, it can be done - but it will cost you.
I'm always up for a ridiculous travel challenge, whether that's running up thousands of kilometres for free on my Opal card or roaming around Australia for a week trying to do all my work on a mobile phone. So when my brother idly said to me "Would it be possible to fly to every state and territory in Australia in a single day?", it was game on.
Here's the schedule I worked out, along with nominal pricing if I was to book this right now for travel on Monday 1 May. (The prices don't include any extras or credit card booking fees.)
The key to making this work is taking advantage of Darwin having domestic flights to Brisbane which leave after midnight. That allows you take full advantage of the day, rather than trying to cram everything in with your first flight at 6am. Proceeding clockwise around the country also means you can exploit the different time zones, finishing up in Perth on the same day you started. It also helps to be doing this outside of the daylight saving period.
This involves multiple tickets, and not just because three airlines are involved. Qantas won't let you book more than two legs of a journey on the same day online. The prices above presume that Brisbane-Canberra is one leg and that Canberra-Hobart is another, so in theory those connections should all be guaranteed, but Hobart-Adelaide would have to be on a separate ticket. That said, there are almost two hours between landing in Hobart and departing, so there's more room for error there. The airline switch to Virgin in Adelaide also has a relatively comfortable 90 minute buffer.
These flights are certainly not the only way to do it. There's a Tigerair flight which leaves Darwin for Brisbane just 10 minutes after the Jetstar one indicated, and most of the Qantas flights during the day could be done on Virgin as well. I just picked Qantas because (selfishly) I'd get lounge access for virtually all of the flights.
The one essential flight is VA721, departing Adelaide for Perth at 8:10pm. No-one else flies that route that late in the evening. Strangely, this only happens on a Monday; on other days of the week, VA721 leaves too early for my purposes.
The total price tag - almost $2,000 - is eye-wateringly high. Almost half of this comes from the Brisbane-Sydney-Canberra leg, which costs $855 as a flexible fare. This sector would always be expensive, since it's first thing on a Monday and involves Canberra, but booking further in advance might slice $400 or more off the price.
Would I actually undertake this challenge? Well, I'd have to get a lot richer first. Even then, it's a risky undertaking, since just one delayed flight would wreck the whole plan. There's at least 40 minutes between every flight and no terminal changes, but even so, it could get messy, and the airlines aren't going to care.
Angus Kidman's Findings column looks at new developments and research that help you save money, make wise decisions and enjoy your life more. It appears Monday through Friday on finder.com.au.