I’ve lived in Australia for 4 years now, and I do love living here, but it’s location in the world can be trying.
If you have your family and/or business mostly in the Western part of the United States, getting there is about a 12-14 hour nonstop flight to Los Angeles or San Francisco.
(This also explains why Australians tend to view the US through a Californian lens, and worthy of its own post.)
Getting to the Midwest or the East Coast generally involves adding on a flight from California to one’s final destination, adding on an extra 3-6 hours.
QANTAS itself operates a flight from New York to Los Angeles (where you can subsequently connect to its flights to the Australian East Coast), mostly due to the presumed reputation of US carriers and also to get its own significant slice of the fare pie.
Now, the reason I bring this up, is because QANTAS has been in the Australian media a lot these days because of their new alliance with Emirates, a major carrier from Dubai.
Emirates has been making serious inroads into the Australian market because whilst it’s 13 hours to Dubai from Sydney, it’s also 5 or 6 hours from Dubai to Europe, and the Europe to Australia market is huge and competitive.
Whereas before one generally flew QANTAS from Australia to Europe via Singapore (where homosexuality is illegal, but the law is rarely enforced), or via Hong Kong (where it is at least legal to be gay), or Bangkok (same), now those who want to fly the main national carrier will be routed through the UAE, a country where there are significant legal differences with Australia, homosexuality being illegal and prosecuted being a notable difference, as this article in the Star Observer points out.
Even the Australian government itself warns gay travelers to the UAE.
The other main Australian carrier, Virgin Australia, has an alliance with UAE carrier Etihad Airways, to fly its Europe bound passengers via Abu Dhabi. (Oddly enough they don’t emphasise the daily Virgin Atlantic flight from Sydney to London via Hong Kong, but that’s a bit of a quirk of Virgin Australia’s ownership.)
Getting to Europe without going through the UAE is seemingly difficult, but not impossible.
Air New Zealand avoids the issue by having its London flights via Los Angeles, though it’s not the most pleasant transit experience from what I’ve heard.
China Southern, Cathay Pacific, Thai, and JAL have been encouraging Australians to get to Europe (and the US) via Guangzhou, Hong Kong, Bangkok, and Tokyo respectively.
That said it is hard to avoid the intense advertisement by the UAE carriers. I gave in, even though I was fully aware that by doing so, I was giving money to a homophobic government.
So I flew to Chicago from Melbourne via Abu Dhabi.
The flight was present, but when I got to the lounge, I was not able to log into several gay-identified websites (AfterElton, JOY94.9, The Advocate), because they were blocked.
Perhaps this is a bit close to my heart, because I’ve worked in the LGBT media. Others might not be bothered by it.
For me, personally, the cost savings were outweighed by the moral compromise.