Smart surfing needed to find cheapest flights online
Best known comparison sites don’t always deliver biggest savings
CHOICE says travellers booking flights online can save hundreds of dollars by expanding their searches beyond the best known flight comparison sites.
The people's watchdog says it's often the lesser known flight comparison websites that offer the lowest airfares and websites comparing the greatest number of carriers don't necessarily give you the lowest price.
For example, after searching tens of flight comparison sites and airline sites, CHOICE found a savings of $463 (or 25%) for flights leaving to and from Sydney/Los Angeles on the same dates.*
"Comparison sites are definitely a fast and convenient way to compare prices across dozens of airlines. However, they won't always include all available fares or give you the best price for your flight," says CHOICE spokesperson, Ingrid Just
"It's definitely worth spending extra time surfing the net for more sites and not just assuming the well-known sites will automatically deliver the most competitive prices.”
CHOICE found for domestic travel flight comparison websites are best used to compare prices but not necessarily to purchase. This is due to the high booking, cancellation and flight change fees that many charge.
Popular sites such as statravel.com.au and bestflight.com.au charge $500 and $350 respectively to cancel a booking. Webjet.com.au charges a $29.95 processing fee and an obligatory booking price guarantee fee of $19.95.
"After you have found the lowest fare on the comparison website, it's worth going directly to the website of the airline with the lowest quoted price. That way you will avoid the costly surcharges on some comparison sites," says Miss Just
CHOICE's top flight comparison website picks:
• wotflight.com (for flights to/from New Zealand only)
"Comparison sites are definitely a fast and convenient way to compare prices across dozens of airlines. However, they won't always include all available fares or give you the best price for your flight," says Miss Just.
Read CHOICE's report into flight comparison websites.
*search undertaken on 31st May, 2011. Syd-LAX return; departing 3rd Sept, returning 17th Sept, 2011. jetabroad.com.au ticket price quoted $1411; virginaustralia.com ticket price quoted $1874.
• Ingrid Just, CHOICE Head of Media and Spokesperson: 0430 172 669