Santa de­liv­ers bargain flights this sea­son

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - Travel & Indulgence -

AUS­TRALIANS are known for their love of travel — and if it’s a bargain, all the bet­ter.

‘‘I’ve al­ways be­lieved Aussie trav­ellers would get on a flight with a known hi­jacker if they had a twofor-one of­fer go­ing,’’ one veteran travel ex­ec­u­tive told me a cou­ple of years ago.

Clearly, we are al­ways on the hunt for a good travel deal and in the lead-up to Christ­mas there are still some ter­rific of­fers to be had.

While flights from Syd­ney to Buenos Aires will set you back a hefty $4200 re­turn this Christ­mas, a visit to Paris, Lon­don or Madrid dur­ing the fes­tive sea­son will cost about $2500 econ­omy from the east coast — cheap when you con­sider re­turn flights to Lon­don were about $1800 a quar­ter of a cen­tury ago.

And there are still some cheap flights avail­able to shorter-haul cities, too, par­tic­u­larly if you are will­ing to fly on key dates. Sin­ga­pore Air­lines’ no-frills off­shoot, Scoot, has scores of in­ex­pen­sive fares to Sin­ga­pore, Phuket and In­dia de­part­ing on Christ­mas Eve.

Re­turn econ­omy flights from Syd­ney to Phuket leav­ing on De­cem­ber 24, for ex­am­ple, are just $1255 on Scoot. Jet­star is charg­ing only slightly more at $1395.

Scoot is also of­fer­ing very af­ford­able fares from Syd­ney or the Gold Coast to Hanoi, Chen­nai or Ban­ga­lore — In­dian cities that were once in­cred­i­bly ex­pen­sive to get to.

The Thai sea­side re­sort of Hua Hin is also pop­u­lar this Christ­mas, ac­cord­ing to Gold­man Travel man­ag­ing di­rec­tor David Gold­man.

But back to Ar­gentina — why are we paying so much? Gold­man says one rea­son for the high fares is that Buenos Aires is not a com­pet­i­tive route. ‘‘That fare is based on the lack of avail­abil­ity of other car­ri­ers,’’ he says. ‘‘[And in­creas­ing air­fares at Christ­mas time] is a way air­lines re­coup a bit of yield.’’

Aus­tralian Fed­er­a­tion of Travel Agents chief ex­ec­u­tive Jayson West­bury says this air­line tac­tic — jack­ing up prices closer to the flight date — is the ex­act op­po­site of how the ho­tel in­dus­try, which drops prices as the date of stay ap­proaches, op­er­ates.

‘‘[Air­lines know that] if you really have to fly on a Thurs­day, you will pay more be­cause you have to fly that day,’’ West­bury says. ‘‘The air­lines are very savvy at yield man­age­ment and there­fore they charge a pre­mium closer to de­par­ture date, and it un­der­pins the no­tion of ear­lybird pur­chas­ing. And, of course, that is what they want.

‘‘Gen­er­ally speak­ing, the air­lines . . . charge more of a pre­mium for the last re­main­ing seats. Why? Be­cause they can.’’

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