How can you save money in Australia’s airline wars?

Price is the most important thing when choosing a domestic flight, according to a recent survey by wotif.com.

 

But travelling for business can cost a pretty penny over the course of a year. Here’re a few ways to cut back on domestic flight costs.

 

Use comparison sites, but don’t book through them

 

Comparison sites and online travel agencies like Webjet, Zuji, cheapflights.com.au, adioso.com, skyscanner.com and Iwantthatflight.com.au enable you to quickly compare prices from each airline for your selected route. But be wary of those that have extra charges on top of ticket prices – Webjet is an example. If you’re using on of these sites, write down the details of the flight you want to take, and book direct through the airline’s own site. Most meta search sites meanwhile,  like Adioso and Expedia don’t display sites with extra charges and the search results they send you should ensure you’re not paying more. 

 

Louise Di Francesco regularly travels between Sydney and Melbourne for board meetings, and always checks all four airline options.

 

“I’ve recently started flying with Tiger Airlines, which is usually much, much cheaper than any of the others and has always been reliable between Melbourne and Sydney,” she says.

 

Also mix and match your flights, so that you may fly each leg with a different airline, depending on which is the cheapest, she says.

 

Join a frequent flyer program

 

If you do fly regularly, it’s worth signing up to a frequent flyer program.

 

Well-respected travel bloggers Caz and Craig Makepeace blog at YTravelBlog and say loyalty programs can earn you points towards cheaper fares, upgrades and free companion tickets.

 

“It may take you a while to accumulate points, but they add up if you fly often. And if you have premium status, you usually gain access to the airline lounges, even if you’re flying economy. You also get priority check-in, priority security and priority boarding.”

 

Frequent flyer programs usually accrue by miles. So even if you don’t travel very often, taking just one long-haul flight will add to your points balance, she says.

 

Adelaide business flyer Marina Mara is a member of the Qantas reward program, and says she hasn’t paid for a domestic flight in three years and has also travelled overseas four times entirely on points.

 

“And recently I tried to book a Melbourne to Adelaide flight, but all airlines had no availability. I looked into my frequent flyer account and there was a 6pm flight ready for me to book, bliss!”

 

But editor of Australian Business Traveller David Flynn advises flyers to avoid using frequent flyer points for economy seats, explaining it’s a false economy.

 

“The exchange rate on that value of flight is simply not worth it, although a lot of people don’t get that. It’s far better to use your points on an upgrade for a long-haul flight.”

 

Choice has conducted research on airline loyalty programs from a value perspective.

 

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