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08.Secrets to a cheaper and better flight

When you’re booking a flight you may be influenced by the loyalty program you subscribe to, but it’s always worth comparing prices and in-flight service, as well as less obvious factors such as the flight schedules, type of aircraft you’ll be flying on, where the aircraft transits, and for how long. If you’re flying to London, for example, always try to book an A380 flight (with Singapore Airlines, Qantas or Emirates), which has a bigger seat width and a deeper seat pitch. Here are our members’ top 10 time- and money-saving tips:

1. Book early. Sign up to airline e-newsletters that alert you of cheaper airfares, such as Jetstar’s Friday Frenzy, Qantas’ Red Deals and Singapore Airlines’ 2-to-go deals.

2. Search on travel websites such as www.webjet.com.au, www.expedia.com.au, www.hotwire.com.au, and www.jetabroad.com.au and www.tripadvisor.com. Remember to clear your cookies and keep refreshing your page, as the prices on some travel websites increase as soon as you navigate away from their page and re-visit later.

3. Check the airlines’ own websites as well as comparator sites before booking – there may be cheaper deals found only there. Virgin Blue, for example, posts its bargain fares between 12pm-1pm daily. Also, check for where the airline transits, as well as its codeshare (see below) partners or subsidiaries to avoid flying with lower-quality carriers.

4. Look for travel websites that offer lowest-price guarantees If you find a flight with an Australian travel agent or airline that’s cheaper than a flight you found at Flight Centre, they will beat the price by $1 and give you a $20 voucher, or even fly you for free.

5. Find out if there will be airport delays or how to navigate around an airport where you’ll be in transit, as well as the weather conditions when you land at your destination at www.flightstats.com.

6. Find the best seats at www.seatguru.com. This tells you exactly how much seat space you have on a Boeing 777- 300ER compared with a Boeing 747-400. You can see a layout of where the galley is (to get your food faster) and where the bathrooms are (stay far away).

7. Always check-in online or over the phone to get the seats you want, especially if you’re traveling in groups. If you don’t, you’re likely to be slotted separately and/or get the worst seats.

8. Check the time of arrival at your destination to make the most of your holiday time. Remember to include the time spent at transit – less is more.

9. Always under-pack. Excess baggage costs for a Qantas flight from Australia to Europe, for example, costs $175 for 5kg.

10. Pack your own food if you’re flying with a budget airline. Even if you’re OK with the menu (which you can find on the airline’s website), sometimes the food gets sold out, especially if you’re seated at the back of the plane.

 
 

Codesharing explained

Under a codesharing agreement, the airline that operates the flight provides the plane, crew and ground handling services – but is different from the airline that sells the tickets. For example, a Qantas flight from London includes
a codeshare with British Airways, which means you may fly at least one leg of your flight with BA even though you booked your ticket through Qantas. Codesharing allows airlines greater access to cities without having to provide extra flights. Qantas, for example, does not fly to Italy directly, but codeshares with Cathay Pacific to Rome via Hong Kong or via London with BA.

Sister airlines, such as Virgin Blue/Pacific Blue and Qantas/Jetstar, also codeshare. Codes are usually shared between members of the two major airline alliances: Star Alliance, which includes Singapore Airlines, Lufthansa, United and Thai Airways, and Oneworld Alliance, which includes Qantas, Cathay Pacific, Japan Airlines and British Airways. When booking your flight online, always check the fine print and whether your preferred airline includes a codeshare – otherwise you may end up booking your flight with a carrier whose services or seats you don’t like.

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