By­pass air­fares that seem too good to be true

Townsville Bulletin - - NEWS - AN­THONY KEANE

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.

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