Santa delivers bargain flights this season
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.’’