As an Australian, it is almost a right of passage to visit Bali. The tropical destination is especially geared to cater to Australian dollars, with plenty of resorts, massages, sun and beach for all to enjoy.
But how to get there? There are many different airlines traveling to the idyllic island destination and we have put together this comprehensive list of the best and the worst.
Who are the candidates?
We will begin by looking at each airline that flies directly from Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, and Perth.
There are plenty of other services that don’t fly direct but transfer through hubs across Southeast Asia, such as Singapore and Kuala Lumpur. We will be looking at the experience in each class, what the seats are like, the service aboard, soft product and cost.
Our list thus far is:
- Virgin Australia
- Garuda Indonesia
- Air Asia X
- Batlik & Malindo Air (Lion Air)
Not all airlines are available from every city in Australia. Prices are average ranges for a Friday-Monday return trip (a weekend away).
We did not fit every option in on this list, as some are simply routing through far away hubs, such as New Zealand, Hong Kong, Philippines etc.
Aircraft type: Boeing 787 from Melbourne, Brisbane and Sydney, Airbus A320 from Perth.
- Business – 38 inches pitch, in a recliner format. There is no business on the A320 from Perth.
- Economy – 78 cm / 29-30 inches (you can pay to upgrade to an extra-legroom seat).
Average Cost: $700 AUD return for economy from Sydney, Melbourne, and Brisbane, only $400 from Perth. They typically have sales that can result in much lower fares.
Jetstar is the go-to carrier for Australia to Bali flights. With their fleet of Dreamliners, Jetstar is able to provide a surprisingly good service between the two countries.
The planes are quiet, with complimentary entertainment, but those in economy need to pay extra from things like food or drinks. You can pre-purchase your meal to get a discount on beverages before you fly. If you are taking a lot of luggage, be warned that the baggage fees can be a little pricey.
The times they fly from Melbourne are pretty fantastic (day flights both ways), but Jetstar from Sydney to Bali leaves late in the afternoon (and arrives quite late) and returns overnight. Those in Sydney who do not like sleeping on planes might look at other carriers that provide daytime flights.
As Jetstar is part of Qantas, it is eligible for Oneworld members to spend points on.
Summary: Good overall option from the east coast with a plane that is built for comfort, but seats are a bit of a squeeze and might be too much overnight.
Aircraft type: Airbus A330 / Boeing 737 from Sydney and Melbourne direct. Brisbane routes fly to Sydney and Perth does not have a direct Qantas service.
- Business A330 – 60 inches pitch on A330 angled flat seat. True lie-flat seats are not yet available on Qantas A330 fleet, but it’s a much bigger pitch than their low-cost carrier Jetstar.
- Business Boeing 737 – 37 inches. It’s a bit of a shock that Qantas has a 737 operating this route.
- Economy – 31 inches.
Average Cost: $800-1000 AUD for economy return from Sydney or Melbourne. Brisbane is around $900 and requires an extra jaunt to Sydney on a domestic 737.
As a full-service airline, Qantas provides meals (you can read about their secret menu here), baggage and entertainment as part of the price. This can be useful if you are not interested in paying for each item. As they are a Oneworld member, you can use your points to fly throughout their network.
The international economy product of Qantas is quite good, with seatback screens and power in seat. You can read a review of it here. The seats are also new as well, with delightful padding and comfort.
Summary: Qantas is not an option if you are flying from Melbourne in business class. The fact that it’s a recliner on a flight that’s pushing six to seven hours is a little horrid. Otherwise, Qantas offers an excellent product for a full-service airline. If you are flying from Melbourne, we would recommend looking at the cheaper yet better business class on their low-cost carrier Jetstar.
As for economy, Qantas is a great choice but can be rather expensive and not really competitive on most routes.
Aircraft type: Boeing 737 from Sydney and Brisbane. Virgin does not fly to Bali from Melbourne or Perth. You will have to transfer through these airports if you wish to fly with them.
- Business – 37 inches in a recliner seat.
- Premium Economy (Economy X) – 31 inches.
- Economy – 30 inches
Average cost: Around $780 on average for a round trip.
Virgin mirrors Qantas’ Melbourne offering, flying a Boeing 737 to DPS (Bali) with a 37 inch recliner for Business. They do offer a ‘premium economy-economy’ (essentially a middle step between economy and premium economy) that provides a bigger screen, and one inch more leg room. Ironically, this Economy X seat is the same as Qantas’ normal economy seat.
You can see a review of our trip on Virgin Australia’s Economy X here.
Virgin Australia is not a full-service carrier for normal economy passengers. There are no entertainment seatback screens onboard (they stream to your device) but there’s no way to charge your device. You also need to pay for food and beverages onboard.
Summary: Virgin Australia is surprisingly lacking compared to the competition, and should only be chosen if there is a cheap business class ticket, or you have plenty of Virgin miles.
Aircraft type: A330 from Sydney, Perth and Melbourne. There is no route from Brisbane.
- Business – 60 inches in an angled flat seat.
- Economy – 34 inches
Average cost: $780 – Sydney and Melbourne, down to $500 from Perth.
Garuda Indonesia, the flag carrier from Indonesia (the country that Bali belongs to), is quite surprisingly an excellent choice.
Their business is comparative to Qantas (and they have a brand new business class coming out in the next year, bringing direct aisle access and lie-flat seats) but cheaper (can be found for around $1,000-1,600 each way). Additionally, you can also bid to upgrade from economy, starting from $400. This means you could fly business class return for less than $1,600 AUD.
The economy cabin is also spoiled, with 34 inches of legroom on board. Additionally, every seat has power and entertainment screens. As this carrier is a full-service airline, you also get a meal and up to 30kg of checked baggage.
Look for our review of this trip later this month (we suggest subscribing above!)
Summary: One of the best choices in this list, average priced and has plenty of perks. Plus who can say no to the most leg room for both classes on this list.
Scoot / Singapore – Via Singapore
Aircraft type: Boeing 787. Flies from Melbourne and Sydney. For Perth, Singapore Airlines provides a full-service option to Singapore (on their 787) and from Brisbane on a brand new A350.
- ScootBiz – 38 inches in recliner seats
- ScootinSilence (Premium Economy, no kids) – 34-36 inches of legroom
- Economy – 31 inches
- Business – 60 inches of legroom, true lie flat seats (the only one on this list)
- Economy – 32 inches of legroom.
- Scoot – $500 for a round trip to Bali via Singapore.
- Singapore Airlines – $600 from Brisbane and rises steeply from there.
Scoot offers some pretty fantastic deals. Flying for only $500 via Singapore they are some of the cheapest on the market. However, watch out for the layover, as on some legs you have to stay overnight in Singapore. It is a low-cost carrier, so expect to pay for everything, including meals, luggage and more. There is no entertainment onboard unless you download their app (ScootTV). Additionally, even in business, you will need to pay for blankets and such.
Summary: Scoot is very cheap but comes at a cost, whilst Singapore is the best possible experience you could buy.
Air Asia Indonesia (Perth) or Air Asia X via Kuala Lumpur
Aircraft type: A320 although it may be replaced by another type at any time. Air Asia X offers an A330 for their longer routes via KL.
- Business – 60 inches. Air Asia X has a business angled flat seat.
- Economy – 30 inches. They claim to have ‘hot seats’, that provide additional legroom but researching this online proved to not be the case.
Average cost: As cheap as $200 for a round trip. The cheapest in this list. From Sydney or Melbourne to Bali, it goes up to $400.
Air Asia is a low-cost carrier so everything is for sale. Be prepared to shell out for food and baggage, but be surprised that you can get more than you pay for. With a huge range of options on every flight and cheap upgrades, there is a reason why Air Asia has been voted the best low-cost carrier in the world.
Air Asia X currently flies an older A330 on the route, but will very soon upgrade to an A330neo-900 (which you can read about here). Because of the extra room. Air Asia offers a ‘business class’, which has quite a steep recliner seat but can be found for as cheap as a full-service economy seat.
According to reviews, the food on Air Asia is excellent.
Summary: The best low-cost carrier… but on old planes and flying via Kuala Lumpur. Worth it if you are flying direct from Perth.
Batlik & Malindo Air (Lion Air)
Aircraft type: Boeing 737-800. Available from Perth, Melbourne, and Brisbane.
- Business – 38 inches. Recliner seat.
- Economy – 29-31 inches. The tightest in this list.
Average cost: $300-700. Surprisingly the cheapest option direct from Brisbane.
Batik Air is the full-service version of Lion Air. They offer meals and entertainment to passengers onboard and have up to 31 inches of legroom. They are quite a good option from Perth and should be considered as a better value version of Jetstar.
Malindo Air, however, is full-service low-cost carrier. What does this mean? It means you get basic things like a hot meal, but if you want a beverage (other than water) then you better be ready to pay, in cash. You also need to bring your own headphones. Reviews online are mixed and it looks like one of us brave Simple Flying reporters will need to check it out.
There are no alcoholic beverages on some flights.
Summary: There are better options on this list but this flight so cheap that it might be worth it if you want to get there for nothing. Better than flying Air Asia or Jetstar for comfort.
Which is best?
This comes down to personal choice, but if we were to rank each airline:
- Best legroom – Garuda Indonesia offers 60 inches in business and 34 in economy. Can you imagine the vast real estate you get with 34 inches?
- Best soft product (entertainment and food) – Qantas provides an excellent product, with entertainment, snacks, food and drinks all included. You can even preselect your food before you board and choose exclusive items. In close second place is the low-cost carrier Air Asia, which has some of the best food in the sky.
- Best Luxury – Singapore A350 from Brisbane hands down. You will have to transfer in Singapore (with a three hour layover) but worth it if you are an aviation lover. Their business class has consistently been voted best in the world.
- Best value for money – Air Asia does short work of this trip, with return flights as cheap as $200 from Perth or $400 from the east coast.
- Best overall – Garuda Indonesia. With a full-service offering, plenty of legroom, and competitively priced against other carriers, it is easily a great choice.
As for who is the worse? We can’t go past Virgin Australia’s offering. With no entertainment, no way to charge your device, tiny seats and having to pay for food and beverages, no service from Melbourne for a full-service carrier price… why bother?
Which do you want to fly on? Let us know in the comments.