Bargains on the f ly for those who try
THE SWITCHED-ON TOURIST
FINDING a bargain of any kind used to be considered a talent, but budget airlines have opened up a whole new world of bargains for the frugal traveller. No special talents are required, just a little know-how and patience.
The more adventurous traveller shuns tour groups and package deals in search of the perfect, and in most cases cheapest, airfare they can find. So proud are they of their achievements they are always ready to let you know how much they’ve saved. Much to your chagrin, you paid double for your last holiday and want in on the bargains.
So where to begin? A plethora of websites promising the best deal are j ust a click away and, with a little sleuthing, you too can brag of bargainhunting prowess.
According to skift.com — which provides a monthly ranking of traffic to popular online booking sites — tripadvisor. com, expedia. com, kayak.com and priceline.com are leading the way. But are they the sites with the best deals? Let’s compare. A popular holiday destination for many Australians is Bangkok. Based on a return flight from Sydney booked for a one-week period early next month, the sites were put to the test with interesting results. The best kayak.com could do was to direct travellers to expedia.com for $973 direct.
Tripadvisor.com offered the same airline and price and also suggested a non-direct route at $781; and the best non-direct price from priceline.com was $1100. When we move away from the bigger sites and look more from an Australian point of view, our options widen. Aggregation sites such as webjet.com.au, zuji.com.au, byojet.com.au and wotif.com offer variations ranging from $760 to $1000 for the same destination and dates.
So many similar offers may lead you to believe they are all more or less the same, but one pitfall to avoid is booking fees. Make sure extra charges are not levied on top of the advertised flight as there could be as much as $100 difference. Credit card fees can also burden the traveller with anywhere from 1 per cent to 3 per cent on top. In many cases, the destination can determine whether or not a booking fee is charged.
Still confusing? Visiting the actual airline websites can sometimes be your best bet. Many budget airlines are often ignored by the larger booking websites in favour of full-cost carriers, but the likes of Scoot Air, Air Asia and Tiger Air can get you part or all of the way to many destinations in and around Australia. During off-peak times, fullservice carriers often have better bargains than aggregation websites — get in early and a great deal can be yours.
While many companies swear this sort of activity doesn’t exist, it won’t hurt to test this theory to get the price you want.
The word ‘‘deal’’ has many meanings, but when it comes to booking flights online, keeping all your options open and a little diligence can secure you the best price.