Trying to track down cheap flights? Knowing when tickets go on sale is an important strategy. Here's when to strike to find the best deals on Australian domestic carriers.
Picture: Getty Images
Most of Australia's domestic airlines now hold regular sale days, and knowing when these are going to happen is a good strategy for scoring cheaper tickets. In most cases, the easiest way to stay informed is to sign up for sale emails from the relevant airline. We've included links for each in the discussion below, as well as mentioning when their regular sales happen and including links to their pages listing currently on-sale fares.
Not all sales happen on a predictable basis, but being signed up to an airline's email list means you'll be notified when a sale is happening. Bargain tracking sites such as OzBargain are also a useful way of identifying one-off deals.
While sale tickets can be great value, they're not the only way to locate good-value fares (and you'll rarely see tickets during popular periods such as school holidays). Check out our guide to tactics for locating cheaper flights for more tips.
Jetstar's weekly Friday Fare Frenzy sees selected routes on sale between 4pm and 8pm. The sale announcement email is sent in advance, so you'll have a chance to check prices for return tickets before the actual sale begins.
Picture by Simon Sees Virgin's Happy Hour sale happens each Thursday, again between 4pm and 8pm (detecting a pattern here?) Again, there's an advance email so you can do preliminary research. If you're keen to track sales, there's even a flight sale app available on multiple platforms (Android, iOS, Windows, Windows Phone and BlackBerry).
Picture: Getty Images Qantas doesn't stage a fixed weekly sale, but does regularly discount fares. You can sign up for alerts from an individual city, which is useful if you're at a regional airport and don't have so many other choices.
Tiger doesn't have a designated sale day as such. However, checking my archive sale announcements, it had three sales in May and four in June — close to a weekly offering in practice.
Always consider the total cost
The biggest trap with buying tickets on sale is that they're often only one-way and on specific dates. Before signing up, make sure you've checked the overall cost of the return flight as well. A little tweaking of dates might mean you can score a similar overall fare without the sale.
Also factor in baggage costs if you won't be able to survive purely on hand luggage. Only Qantas includes checked baggage as standard on all flights (though Virgin frequent flyers also usually have a free luggage allowance). If you do need to check luggage, pay for it in advance — it's much cheaper than on the day.
Lifehacker Australia editor Angus Kidman loves a cheap fare, but he loves the right fare more. His Road Worrier column, looking at technology and organising tips for travellers, appears each week on Lifehacker.