Airlines all around the globe are currently throwing heavily discounted fares around like confetti at a wedding. Here’s how to book to your advantage. By Alicia Fulton, News & Content Editor.

Every airline is doing their darndest to get us to book a trip right now. Just a few examples of the sales happening right now? Australian budget airline Jetstar is running a 1 Million Seats Sale,  American Airlines are offering to waive the change fee even on their super cheap non-refundable fares purchased up until the end of March 2020, as are premium carrier British Airways (though at the moment only on purchases until 16 March 2020), United Airlines, Delta Airlines and Alaska Airlines who have cleverly named it a “peace of mind” waiver.

And these are for trips which may not have you travelling till as late as February 2021 when the world has a handle on COVID-19. So, what’s to lose, right?

(Anastasiia Ostapovych on Unsplash)

Well there are still other important rules to follow to ensure you don’t end up just throwing your money away or accidentally spending more than planned. Key information can be neatly tucked away in the terms and conditions which – not surprisingly – some travellers never get around to reading. We suggest a quick read through the terms and conditions for each and every ticket you book, regardless of your ‘seasoned traveller’ status and particularly those of those falling into budget fare category.

As well as doing your terms & conditions ‘due diligence’, here are five important elements all Holiday Goddesses may want to consider:

  1. If you find a discount rate through a fare search site such as Skyscanner, Expedia or Kayak don’t hit purchase straight away. Instead head to the website of the airline the search site has you potentially flying with. You may find that they have the same, or even cheaper fare on offer and if that is the case it’s wise to make the purchase directly with the airline.Why you ask? Later down the track, if you find you need to change your flight, it will be a much simpler process and you are less likely to incur penalties (other than those you would have known about when booking the ticket). It only takes a few minutes to do a price comparison and you may save yourself a big headache or two later down the track.

    (Photo by chuttersnap on Unsplash)

  2. Purchasing direct with the carrier can often make it easier to request an upgrade using your frequent flier miles, with the software on most airline’s websites prompting you to add your frequent flier number and also allowing you to easily select an option if you wish to request an upgrade. But once again take the time to read the fare conditions – often the cheapest fares will be classed as “discount economy” so unless you are in the top tier of the carriers frequent flier program, if you are travelling on seriously discounted ticket you are could also be the last to be considered for an upgrade to business or first class.
  3. Check how much baggage is included in the fare, some airlines offer great seat prices but will then slug you fees for anything but your carry-on (fine if you are only going away for a couple of nights but if you need to check luggage and pay the discount may all be disappear – particularly if you plan on doing some shopping at your destination).
  4. Know that purchasing travel insurance won’t necessarily result in a successful claim. For example: if you bought an airline ticket or booked a hotel back in November 2019, when COVID-19 was yet to appear, and are now unable to travel due to the virus impacting your destination, your insurance company should pay up.

    However, if you booked the ticket after the government advice on that country/area was to avoid all non-essential travel, the insurance company won’t need to pay up – they factor in that you would (or should) have known about the risk in buying the ticket, but still chosen to buy anyway. So always run a quick check of your federal government websites like the ones listed below before you buy in case the travel safety status of the destination has been upgraded:

Australian Government Smartraveller Advice

United Kingdom Foreign Travel Advice

United States Travel Advisories

  1. While all travellers should be treated as equal once on the plane, if you are travelling on a heavily discounted ticket and the airlines is overbooked you may be in the first group to be approached to move to another flight. Which isn’t always a bad thing – if you are flexible and helpful (and you’re not in a rush to get to your destination) you can also turn the situation into opportunity and request a better seat on the next flight they have available and if you can’t get on a flight the same day request the airline provides you with an accommodation voucher to stay in a hotel for the night.If it’s absolutely essential that you get to your destination by a date and time (for example for a wedding, concert or funeral that will go ahead regardless on if you are held up) then you may want to consider buying full-priced fare that gives you more security you’ll get to the destination on time.

Humbug Mountain State Park, USA  (Andrew Ly on Unsplash)

Alicia Fulton

About Alicia Fulton

Holiday Goddess Weekly News by Alicia Fulton, News and Content Editor