Can't get a flight out of Cairns!?

Jan 6th, 2007, 10:26 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Dec 2003
Posts: 63
Can't get a flight out of Cairns!?

My husband and I will be traveling to Australia in mid-June. I want to fly into Sydney, spend a few days then take a train to Cairns and fly home from that airport. The problem is I can't find a site that lets me fly from Cairns to the US. They all say none are available. What's up with that? Any suggestions would be extremely appreciated!!! Thanks!
leeann44 is offline  
Jan 6th, 2007, 01:06 PM
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leeann, I found this same situation when researching our tickets. It said none available when I had just talked to the agent and there were seats available. I would call Qantas myself and speak with a real person. BTW, if the real person doesn't give you the information you want, just call back and get another (and another) until you get a helpful one. Alternately, you could just book Cairns/Sydney and then your return via Sydney, unless your ticket allows "open jaw" ticketing, it won't be available. BTW again, have you looked at the time it takes to take a train up to Cairns? I think it is days and days on the train with not much to look at. Flying would be much cheaper, too, even flying to different places to have a look around if that is what you were after. There is so much to see and do in the country, that I wouldn't waste a single minute being bored on a train. Go straight to Cairns and have fun in the rainforest, the Great Barrier Reef, in the shops and other great places. Just my opinion here. You could then get a round trip ticket US-Sydney and Sydney-Cairns (but allow plenty of time to get between terminals, the domestic terminal in Sydney isn't near the international one.)
Sally in Seattle
SnRSeattle is offline  
Jan 6th, 2007, 01:47 PM
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Though Cairns is an international airport I am pretty sure it only services international services from Asia. Unless it is cheaper and quicker to go via Japan it may be best to connect in Sydney.
Tassietwister is offline  
Jan 6th, 2007, 01:50 PM
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Leeann I have to agree with SnRSeattle (although you've not asked us for our opinions on this aspect!) but the rail trip even from Brisbane to Cairns takes about 24 hours and is deadly - add on a Sydney leg and that's about 36 hours. Althoguh the train is NEAR the coast it is seldom within view of water - mostly it's dull farmland, sugar cane and small railway towns or the worst parts of major centres. Much better to fly direct Sydney to Cairns on Virgin or Qantas and if you love train travel - take the very charming Kuranda Scenic Railway in Cairns which winds up through spectacular rainforest and over waterfalls and ends up in sleepy Kuranda with its butterflies and rainforest milieu, and get the wonderful Skyrail cable car back.
PaulS is offline  
Jan 6th, 2007, 02:41 PM
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Sydney to Cairns with Jetstar is also a good cheap option.
prue is offline  
Jan 6th, 2007, 03:01 PM
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Bless you people for the advice!haha From what I have been reading, I was thinking that the train trip seemed like it was going to be a time consuming snooze! (So that's out!) How about this? Just get round trip tickets to Sydney and then VirginBlue roundtrip from Cairns to Sydney. Although it seems redundant to go back to Sydney! Any ideas out there? I am flying from WV (yes, feel sorry for me).
leeann44 is offline  
Jan 6th, 2007, 03:36 PM
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Continental have service Cairns-US via Guam, but only a few flights a week and leaving at about midnight from Cairns. Easiest to fly back to Brisbane or Sydney(2 hours from Cairns-Brisbane and 3 from Cairns to Sydney)- Cairns airport is an Asian hub with most international flights to Asia or Europe.
pat_woolford is offline  
Jan 6th, 2007, 04:55 PM
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Leeann, which airline are you using for the long haul sector? If you are using Qantas you 'might' find you could incorporate some domestic sectors for very little extra, they sometimes have promotions that include or permit for an extra amount cheaper than getting a separate ticket.
You also might be able to find some kind of 'visit Australia' promotion that could incorporate some domestic sectors, worth looking into !
JamesA is offline  
Jan 6th, 2007, 05:01 PM
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Leeann, look sta the post under 'Qantas Aussie Pass", that deal is from LAX but it gives you an idea, that is if you are using Qantas for the long haul.
JamesA is offline  
Jan 6th, 2007, 07:57 PM
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Brisbane's a good exit point -nonstop to LA- you wouldn't have to fly all the way back to Sydney.

Here's Qantas' route map - hold the mouse over the cities to find the current routes.
Jango is offline  
Jan 7th, 2007, 12:36 AM
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My very first landfall in Australia was Cairns - flew with Air NZ. Have just checked and they still fly the route with connex to LAX or SFO.

I was using

It's a neat site as if you press the Next Day button you get a rolling calendar showing availability on each date.

Should you be flying ex US with United you might be able to organise one open jaw ticket as both United and AirNZ are Star Alliance.

I too wouldn't do syd cairns by train. I do think it's a great idea to vary your mode of tranpsort, and, as Australia is so big, it's tempting to try and fit in a train. But I've tried so many times to factor in a train trip on the East Coast, and failed!! This is mainly because they don't run daily, and arrive/depart in some places at seriously inconvenient hours if you are a tourist.

But if you want to sample the train for its own sake, and it wasn't just a way of getting up to FNQ (ie you would be interested in stopping on the way) then there are some interesting possible combinations of flight from sydney and train the rest of the way. I assume you have found:

Happy planning.
fuzzylogic is offline  
Jan 7th, 2007, 04:58 AM
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Thanks again, everyone, for the information! I will take a look at the airnewzealand site and see what I can come up with. It seems that Cairns is definitely a place worth visiting - correct? Do I need to allow much time for Brisbane touring or simply use it as a place to leave Australia from if necessary?
leeann44 is offline  
Jan 7th, 2007, 05:50 AM
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You will have to fly from Cairns to Sydney...period.

If you're going to do your domestic section separately, make sure that you allow the proper / required connection time to make your international flight, and ESPECIALLY if you're "mixing" airlines!

For example, you're on Qantas for your roundtrip (say WVA on American, maybe?) and connecting then to LAX = SYD and SYD - LAX. If you were to use Virgin, as someone suggested, you are going to have to allow time to pick up your bags in Sydney, get from the Domestic Terminal to the International, and check them in with Qantas.

I hope that you can "break up" your flight by staying at an airport hotel in LAX too!

Hope this is helpful!


Certified Aussie Specialist
wlzmatilida is offline  
Jan 7th, 2007, 06:42 AM
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Thanks, Melodie! After searching some of the above mentioned possibilities, one gets into a scheduling nightmare!! I mentioned this to my husband who gets hives just at the thought of getting bumped, so I am deciding to play it safe. I will fly into Sydney, take a domestic flight to Cairns and back to Brisbane (for something different), then fly home from there. I'll let one of the discount travel websites take care of the scheduling for me. So far the best price I have found has been from again for all the information. It is priceless!
leeann44 is offline  
Jan 7th, 2007, 10:33 PM
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Hi Leeann,

As far as your question "is Cairns a place worth visiting?":

I personally did not find Cairns proper to be anything special. We spent four days in Port Douglas, which is a 30-45 minute drive from Cairns and we really enjoyed it. It was extremely laid back, and our trip to the Great Barrier Reef was by far the highlight of our trip. During our stay, we did spend one day in Cairns for some shopping but that was it.

Also, we flew on United... Seattle to SF to Auckland to Melbourne, then eventually from Melbourne to Cairns, then Cairns to Auckland to LA to Seattle. We used a wholesale consolidator (I think that's the right term?), whose name I don't have at this time. I can find it if you're interested.
sarahbellum is offline  
Jan 8th, 2007, 04:35 AM
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Leeann--I agree that you would probably find Port Douglas more appealing than Cairns. While Cairns has no real beach, PD has the lovely Four Mile Beach. PD also has many good restaurants and accomodations in all price ranges. A lot of boats leave from there for the Great Barrier Reef, so you have choice there as well on the type of trip you want to take. The Rainforest Habitat which houses native animals is located in PD and is definitely worth a visit (especially the 'Breakfast with the Birds' option.) You are also close to Mossman Gorge and Daintree National Park for trips to the rainforest.
In order to get from PD from Cairns, you can rent a car and make the drive (which is beautiful, but very curvy on a 2-lane highway). If you are unsure about driving on the left-hand side of the road, you can take a shuttle bus to and from the airport to PD. There are several transport companies, but we have used Sun Palm in the past. You will need to book this transportation in advance of your visit.
longhorn55 is offline  
Jan 8th, 2007, 05:00 AM
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Cairns city has no real beach, its a harbour for ocean going vessels, fishing trawlers, a multitude of reef trips. Not many Australian cities have a beach right on doorstep. But there's heaps of beaches both north and south of city. Cairns city has the despised mudflats, and what a bonus that is for nature-lovers who flock (no pun intended) to see migratory birds from as far as Siberia. Cairns is a cosmopolitan little city, loads of interesting restaurants and try Crystal Cascades, out of Cairns city a little, Mossman Gorge without the tourists. From Cairns to PD, BTS provides a cheaper service than Sun Palm.
pat_woolford is offline  
Jan 8th, 2007, 08:57 AM
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Qantas flies into Sydney, Brisbane, and Melbourne. Perhaps fly into Sydney and out of Brisbane. I caught a Qantas flight from Cairns to Brisbane quite cheap.

It sure would be nice if Qantas flew from LAX to Cairns.
wally34949 is offline  
Jan 8th, 2007, 11:38 AM
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Flight Centre <> was a good resource when I was planning our trip. You can e-mail them at <[email protected]> or phone them from outside the U.S. at ++ 61 (7) 3119 3100.
Orlando_Vic is offline  
Jan 8th, 2007, 12:20 PM
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It used to Wally, Cairns-LAX. Route wasn't making enough profit, so it was cut at least 10 years ago.
pat_woolford is offline  

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