Early­birds get the bar­gains

Sunday Mail - Travel/Escape - - FRONT PAGE -

UROPE has never been a more pop­u­lar des­ti­na­tion for Aussie hol­i­day mak­ers. Last year France, Italy, Spain and Bri­tain com­bined to welcome 960,000 Aus­tralian trav­ellers with that num­ber a leap on the 706,000 peo­ple who vis­ited in 2009.

With so many peo­ple look­ing to spend hol­i­day dol­lars on the Con­ti­nent and in the UK, it’s get­ting harder to nab a deal, but there’s one sure way– and now’s the time to act.

The car­ri­ers serv­ing Aus­tralia – in­clud­ing Eti­had, Emi­rates, Sin­ga­pore Air­lines, Malaysia Air­lines, Qan­tas, Cathay Pa­cific – are re­leas­ing an­nual early­bird air­fares, and these sale tick­ets are per­fect for trav­ellers plan­ning to ex­plore Europe in 2016.

“Early­bird air­fares are re­duced air­fares for travel to Euro­pean des­ti­na­tions for de­par­ture be­tween March and Oc­to­ber the fol­low­ing year,’’ Es­cape Travel gen­eral man­ager Dar­ren Lloyd says. “They are the best prices trav­ellers will see on flights to Europe – trav­ellers can save as much as $1400 on early­bird fares to Europe across busi­ness-class and econ­omy flights – but the best air­fares and most pop­u­lar routes sell out first so it’s best to get in early.’’

Sin­ga­pore Air­lines is fa­mous for of­fer­ing con­sid­er­able sav­ings dur­ing the early­bird win­dow with se­nior mar­ket­ing man­ager Dale Wood­house not­ing the cam­paign is one of his com­pany’s “big­gest fare pro­mo­tions of the year’’ re­sult­ing in more than 50,000 seats sold dur­ing the of­fer pe­riod.

“Europe is a pri­mary des­ti­na­tion for Aus­tralian trav­ellers, nor­mally the most ex­pen­sive air­fare pur­chase, and Europe’s early­bird sea­son pro­vides an op­por­tu­nity to lock in a dis­counted rate,’’ Dale says.

“Our ob­jec­tive is to of­fer the best pos­si­ble fare to Europe for travel in the next year – usu­ally be­tween March and Septem­ber – and, although we don’t state it cat­e­gor­i­cally, im­plicit in our propo­si­tion is early­bird fares will be the best of­fered for the ap­pli­ca­ble travel pe­riod (and) Sin­ga­pore Air­lines will not of­fer a lower fare sub­se­quently.

“In ad­di­tion to at­trac­tive fares Sin­ga­pore Air­lines in­cludes ‘value adds’ – $1 a per­son stopover in Sin­ga­pore, dis­counted South-East Asia side-trip fare, Changi Air­port transit voucher – and trav­ellers will not only en­joy an af­ford­able fare but have peace of mind.’’

Es­cape Travel’s Dar­ren Lloyd says that while the early­bird rates re­leased around Septem­ber are al­ready com­pet­i­tively priced, savvy trav­ellers can “save even more by us­ing the des­ti­na­tion and air­line route net­work to their ad­van­tage’’.

“If you’re flex­i­ble with travel plans you can save money by by­pass­ing more pop­u­lar and ex­pen­sive hubs like Lon­don and Paris for cities in­clud­ing Dublin, Am­s­ter­dam and Is­tan­bul,’’ Lloyd says.

“These are con­sis­tently the cheap­est Euro­pean cities to fly into and, for the cost of another short flight or train fare, trav­ellers can be back on their planned itin­er­ary hav­ing saved money on in­ter­na­tional flights.

“Es­cape Travel is of­fer­ing re­turn econ­omy air­fares to Am­s­ter­dam with Cathay Pa­cific from $1499, to Dublin with Eti­had from $1453, and to Is­tan­bul with Eti­had from $1456, while another way to make the most of early­bird air­fares is to look for pack­ages built around these spe­cial rates.’’

GOOD VALUE: His­toric Switzer­land; and At­lantis The Palm Ho­tel and Re­sort, in Dubai, could of­fer the per­fect stopover (above right). Main pic­ture: Getty Im­ages

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