Stranded Australian travellers have forked out as much as $2100 for taxi and limousine rides from Canberra to Melbourne as ash clouds from the Chilean volcano continue to disrupt domestic flights.
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Aerial Capital Group Pty. operations manager, Shane Stephens, told Bloomberg he has sent five cars to Melbourne over the past couple of days. The fares were negotiated between the passengers and drivers, with the highest rate settled at $2100.

“I'd never had anyone who wanted us to drive them to Melbourne," Mr Stephens said. "We are completely booked out."

Over the past few days, tens of thousands of people have been directly affected by flight cancellations across the country.

Qantas cancelled more than 200 flights yesterday, turning away more than 20,000 passengers. Virgin Australia also cancelled 170 flights yesterday, while Tiger cancelled every one of its domestic services.

Services are gradually returning to normal, with many flights set to recommence later this afternoon.

With all this going on, it’s an interesting time to compare flying with driving, to see how much time you can save on a plane, and how much money you save in a car.

Let’s look at a trip from Sydney to Melbourne:


Google Maps estimates the trip to be 878km and 9 hours 52 minutes driving time. Let’s call it 10.5 hours with a fuel stop and a couple of toilet breaks.

Let’s say you’re driving a Holden Commodore – the most popular new car in the country. The base model Omega uses 9.3 litres/100km of fuel on the combined cycle and 7.3 litres/100km on the extra urban cycle. Given that the majority of the trip will be smooth sailing on the highway, let’s say your total fuel consumption will be 7.5 litres/100km.

At that rate, you will use 65.85 litres of fuel to complete the trip. With the price of regular unleaded fuel at around 139.9 cents/litre, you will spend $92.12 on fuel to complete the trip. Throw in a toll here and there and we’ll call it a round $100.

Total: $100, 10 hours 30 minutes


Firstly you need to get to the airport. Let’s call a taxi $40 and 30 minutes. Then you need to check in: another 30 minutes. If you’re like me and prefer to build in a buffer period to make sure you don’t miss your flight, you’ll probably be twiddling your thumbs at the airport for the best part of 45 minutes waiting to board.

Next comes the flight, which is 90 minutes from boarding time to departure. If you purchase your ticket a couple of days ahead of your trip, you’ll be lucky to do better than $300 for an economy ticket. Then there’s another 30 minutes at the other end to collect your bags and get out of the airport. Then another 30 minutes and $40 in taxi fees to get to Melbourne city.

All up you’ve spent $380 and four hours and 15 minutes. And that’s if you get a perfect Amazing Race-style run. If you’ve spent any time around airports, you’d agree that it rarely goes as smoothly as this, and the time can easily blow out an extra hour or two.

Total: $380, 4 hours 15 minutes


It all depends on whether your time is more important than your money. Flying costs almost four times as much but will save you six hours on a perfect run. Driving will take most of your day (if you leave at 8:30am you will arrive at 7pm, compared with a 12:45pm arrival time for the taxi/plane/taxi method), but you will have an extra $280 in your pocket when you get there.

Clearly, if the alternative is getting a limo all the way, taking your own car is going to win hands down.

What do you think? In these uncertain times, is flying good value or is the drive the way to go?

Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.