Fare comparison: The pros and cons to consider when booking domestic flights

When booking a domestic flight, for many of us, nabbing the cheapest possible fare is our top priority.

But sometimes paying more upfront can work out more cost-effective in the long-run, should your travel plans change.

Be warned, though – a ‘flexible’ fare might not be as flexible as it appears, and sometimes a ‘refundable’ fare doesn’t actually mean you’ll get your money back.

Here’s a guide to the domestic fare types offered by Air New Zealand and Jetstar, and the pros and cons of each.

READ MORE:
* The truth about airfares and why they can be so expensive
* The truth about flexible airfares and flight credits
* What are your rights when your flight is cancelled?

Air New Zealand

Air New Zealand has four domestic fare types, from seat only to fully refundable.

Ricky Wilson/Stuff

Air New Zealand has four domestic fare types, from seat only to fully refundable.

Seat/Seat+Bag

Pros:

– This is the cheapest option – especially if you opt for seat only (a checked bag will cost $20 extra per leg, or $40 for the return journey).

– You’ll earn Airpoints (unless it’s a Grabaseat Greenlight deal, or you pay using Airpoints dollars) and status points (unless you pay using Airpoints dollars).

– Despite it being the cheapest fare, there’s no difference in service onboard – you get an in-flight snack and beverage just like everyone else.

Cons:

– You’re charged $5 to select a seat (although this is free if you’re an Airpoints Gold, Elite or Koru member).

– If you end up needing to change the flight date or time, you’ll be charged $50 per leg, per person. You’ll also have to pay the difference if the new flights are more expensive – this can be substantially more if booked at the last minute.

– You’re not eligible for a refund if you have to cancel.

Best for: When you’ve managed to pick up flights for a reasonable price, and you aren’t too bothered about ditching your plans and losing the money if you’re unable to travel.

Flexichange

Pros

– You can change your flight date, time and route prior to the day of departure, with no change fee.

– On the day of departure, you can change to an earlier or later flight that same day if one is available, for no extra cost.

– Includes a checked bag.

– Includes seat selection.

– You’ll earn more Airpoints than you would with a seat/seat+bag fare (unless it’s a Grabaseat Greenlight deal, or you pay using Airpoints dollars) and status points (unless you pay using Airpoints dollars).

cons

– Costs $20 more per leg than a Seat+Bag fare.

– If you do change your flights, you’ll have to pay the difference if the new flights are more expensive – this can be substantially more if booked at the last minute. And you won’t get any money back if you swap to a flight that is cheaper than the original fare.

– You’re not eligible for a refund if you have to cancel.

Best for: Business travelers who may need to chop and change flights (and whose companies don’t mind paying any significant fare differences). But this can also be a good option for those who may have to change a flight but don’t need to travel at a particular time, so can rebook based on when they can find new fares worth the same as the original amount paid.

Flexirefund

Pros

– Fully refundable if you have to cancel.

– You can change your flight date, time and route prior to departure, with no change fee.

– On the day of departure, you can change to an earlier or later flight that same day if one is available, for no extra cost.

– Includes two checked bags.

– Includes seat selection.

– You’ll earn more Airpoints than any other domestic fare (unless it’s a Grabaseat Greenlight deal, or you pay using Airpoints dollars) and status points (unless you pay using Airpoints dollars).

cons

– Costs $40 more per leg than a Seat+Bag fare.

– As with Flexichange, if you change your flights, you’ll have to pay the difference if the new flights are more expensive.

– If you forget to cancel your flight before it departs, you’ll have to pay a $50 no-show fee to be able to claim your refund.

Best for: Those who are uncertain of their travel plans and know there’s a chance they may have to cancel – especially if the airfares are expensive in the first place, that extra $40 per leg may be worth paying as insurance.

Jetstar

Jetstar has a range of fare options and add-ons for travelers to navigate.

SUPPLIED

Jetstar has a range of fare options and add-ons for travelers to navigate.

Starter

Pros

– This is the cheapest option.

– You’ll earn Qantas points.

cons

– No checked baggage included – you’ll have to pay more to add this on (it costs $14 for 20kg).

– If you end up needing to change the flight date or time, you’ll be charged $60 per leg, per person. You’ll also have to pay the difference if the new flights are more expensive – this can be substantially more if booked at the last minute.

– You’re not eligible for a refund of any kind if you have to cancel.

– You’re charged $5 to select a seat.

– No in-flight snacks.

Best for: If you’re traveling light, and aren’t too bothered about ditching your plans and losing the money if you’re unable to travel.

Flex

Pros

– If you have to cancel your flight, you get a credit voucher.

– You can change your flight date or time with no change fee.

– On the day of departure, you can change to an earlier or later flight that same day if one is available, for no extra cost.

– Includes 14kg hand luggage.

– You’ll earn Qantas points (but no more than the Starter fare).

– You can select an upfront or standard seat for no added cost.

– You get an in-flight snack.

cons

– Costs from $29 more than the Starter fare.

– No checked baggage included – you’ll have to pay more to add this on (it costs $14 for 20kg).

– If you change your flights, you’ll have to pay the difference if the new flights are more expensive.

– You can’t change the origin or destination of your flights.

– No option to get your money back if you have to cancel (just the credit voucher).

Best for: With the lack of luggage and the ability to change on the day, this fare has been designed with business travelers in mind. The credit voucher offers added peace of mind – although you’d have to be happy to fly with Jetstar again for it to be worth it.

Plus

Pros

– You can change your flight date or time with no change fee.

– Includes 20kg of checked baggage.

– You’ll earn more Qantas points than the Starter or Flex fares.

– You can select a standard seat for no added cost.

– You get an in-flight snack.

cons

– Costs from $29 more per leg than the Starter Fare.

– You’re not eligible for a refund of any kind if you have to cancel.

– If you change your flights, you’ll have to pay the difference if the new flights are more expensive.

– You can’t make same day changes.

– You can’t change the origin or destination of your flights.

Best for: Travelers who need a checked bag and may need to shift their flights. But if you’re not worried about that flexibility, it’s better value to just purchase the Starter fare and add baggage on.

Max

Pros

– If you have to cancel your flight, you get a credit voucher.

– Includes 30kg of checked baggage.

– You can change your flight date, time and route with no change fee.

– On the day of departure, you can change to an earlier or later flight that same day if one is available, for no extra cost.

– You’ll earn more Qantas points than any other domestic fare.

– You can select the best seat available for no added cost.

– You get an in-flight snack.

cons

– Costs from $60 more per leg than the Starter fare.

– If you change your flights, you’ll have to pay the difference if the new flights are more expensive.

– No option to get your money back if you have to cancel (just the credit voucher).

Best for: This option costs from $31 more than Flex, but offers very similar flexibility benefits. But if you’re keen to fill up 30kg of luggage, you really care about your seat, and you want those sweet Qantas points, go ahead and book this one.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *