Why won’t Americans suck it up and fly to Australia?

Americans, the hypocrites, will not stop complaining about the flight to Australia.

“I want to go to Australia, but I can’t stomach the thought of the year long flight….ugggh.” (source)


“I really want to go to australia but at the same time the flight is just soooo long, and everything there is poisonous” (source)


“Flying to Australia is a long arduous experience” (source)

And yet they consider driving across their vast, lumpy and obese country a simple jaunt! A petit amusement! A mere caper!

This graph shows that lots of people who can easily afford to fly will still happily ride the Interstate for hour after arduous hour. Among people earning over 100 grand, twenty per cent of trips of 2000 miles are done by car! 20 per cent!!

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Just for reference for our Australian readers, an example of a round trip of 2000 miles would be from Melbourne to Byron Bay, AND BACK.

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There should be millions of Americans trampling all over our fine brown land all the time.

The proportion of Americans with passports has risen from 3 per cent in 1989 to over 33 per cent now.

And yet growth in American tourism to Australia has been stunted, showing no growth at all in a decade, until a welcome recent blip. The cheap airfares that have had Aussies hitting up the States in record numbers apparently leave our American confreres ice cold.


What Is Happening, America? Why You No Come Here?

Are they wholly xenophobic? Can we blame Lara “where the bloody hell are you” Bingle? Or is it our famous racism? Or are they more concerned about our drop bears, redbacks and large, fast-moving and highly venomous snakes?

Perceptions of safety can scarcely be the issue. It turns out the favourite destination of Americans in selecting their overseas travel is Mexico, with a 33 per cent share.

Oceania (presumably including those hobbit-botherers across the ditch, plus Tahiti, Fiji, etc) gets just 0.9 per cent. [source]

Canada gets 20 per cent and Europe is next with 19 per cent. Europe! What have they got that we don’t? Europe is at least 7 hours flight, NY-London, and as much as 14 hours if you try to go from LA to Helsinki.

Screen Shot 2014-02-22 at 5.48.27 pm

The American excuse that it is *just too far* is clearly made up. Which leaves us in an unhappy place. A place where we need to face a discomforting possibility.

Perhaps they just don’t like us.

Can we handle the rejection?

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Thomas the Think Engine is the blog of a trained economist. It comes to you from Melbourne Australia.

2 thoughts on “Why won’t Americans suck it up and fly to Australia?”

  1. Re the car comparison, a couple of points that might explain why Americans will happily take a 15 hour driving trip but baulk at flying 15 hours to Australia (although my flights always seem to end up taking much longer than scheduled!). First, once you’re in a plane or ship you’re stuck (the downside of parties on boats). At least with a car you can stop as often as you like and even abandon the trip if you want. Second, cars are more private. And third, you’ve got wheels at the other end.


  2. Love the post! I’m a Yank currently living in Oz.
    Of course we like you…in a way, it really IS just too far.

    I suspect that to the average traveller (outside of Australia) any flight over 10-12 hrs is kind of daunting & requires a compelling reason to undertake: Visiting family. Relocating for work. Fighting ISIS. But for a holiday? I’m guessing a 14-20 hr flight is a real game changer when planning how to spend time on a quick 2 week vacation, which is all they get on average.

    As I think about it, I’ve never met anyone who has flown from the US to Helsinki (or that mentioned it anyway), so I don’t think there’s much to the idea that we’re regularly hopping on other long flights.

    Like Alan commented above, driving in my car is pretty comfortable, with leg room, fresh air & interesting stops every few hours. Yet flying coach for long durations guarantees discomfort, unhealthy recycled air, monotony, & more vacation time lost to jet lag. I actually enjoy flying, but the experience deteriorates after about 5-10 hrs and stops being about enjoyment and more about tolerating a bunch of aches & pains as I wait to reach my destination. Which is why destinations with ultra-long flights require a more compelling invitation than their competitors.

    It is strange that all Americans I’ve met or read about LOVE it here in Australia & are glad they came, yet few actually make the trip. Of course we can blame my fat lazy cousins to no end, or look at what we can control, which is the marketing. (And yes, we are fat & lazy, but that’s because we respond to good ads!)

    After years of enticing commercials (in the US) making Jamaica seem like the friendliest place in the world, I gave in to the clever marketing & went, only to be mugged within 3 hours of arrival by a gang of 15 pot heads in the middle of the city, in the middle of the afternoon. I’d never go back…but props for getting us there the one time with dreamy commercials (that forgot to demand “Where the bloody hell are you”). If Australia gets marketed in the right way to Americans (or anyone), I think more will visit…and unlike Jamaica, it will live up to the expectations and they’ll want to keep coming back.

    Much like this extended comment, a 17 hour flight definitely is too long for the likes of most. But I doubt people will care about that if they’ve already fallen in love with what’s on the other side. If you compel them, they will come. (Or at least LURE them properly).


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