Bypass airfares that seem too good to be true
BUYING a cheap flight is much easier than it once was, although many travellers risk having their wings clipped by offers that are too good to be true.
An analysis of airfare changes over the past 20 years by Phil Hoffmann Travel has found that some fares have plunged by up to two- thirds.
It found that return flights to Los Angeles have dropped from $ 2700 to $ 1100 since the late 1990s, flights to London are down from $ 2600 to $ 1180, and flights to Singapore have fallen 65 per cent from $ 2000 to about $ 700.
Short domestic flights are also 65 per cent cheaper, from $ 450 to about $ 160.
The price plunges have come despite fuel surcharges and taxes now being eight times higher for travel between some destinations.
Intense competition for customers’ holiday dollars has helped lower prices, and Phil Hoffmann Travel chief executive officer Peter Williams said many of today’s routes and airlines did not exist two decades ago.
He said despite the falling prices, travellers should be wary of too- good- to- be- true offers, which were typically on budget airlines that only included the seat price, with baggage, meals, seat selection and other extras then added to the cost.
“For international travel, these airfares often include long and multiple stopêovers on your way to your destination,” Mr Williams said.
“The result is you spend more time travelling and less time relaxing or sightseeing – these are not always the best options for the small saving you make.”
Mr Williams said people should beware of cheap deals from obscure travel agents, airlines or tour operators.
“One of the biggest warning signs is when the advertisement or promotion focuses too heavily on an attentiongrabbing dollar figure and doesn’t provide the detail on the travel experience,” he said.
Too- good- to- be- true offers also affect travel insurance, where the cheapest policies may sting you financially if you need to claim.
Boomers Travel Insurance managing director Ian Jackson said some cheap policies might have limited cancellation cover, or high excess payments, or were highly conditional.
“It’s very important to make sure that the benefits offered suit what you really need,” Mr Jackson said.
He said policies sold through travel agents were generally more expensive than travel insurance policies sold directly online or over the phone.
However, insurance sold by travel agents continued to be the most popular, he said.
“There’s still a lot of loyalty to travel agents, and a lot of trust that they’re buying the right one.”
TRAVEL TIPS: Phil Hoffmann Travel’s Peter Williams.