The world's largest phone expo was due to be held in Barcelona this year but it's just been cancelled amid coronavirus, or COVID-19 as its now known, concerns. While it's an unfortunate circumstance, it's good news for bargain hunters looking for cheap flights for an impromptu holiday. Treat yourself.
The Mobile World Congress (MWC) 2020 was due to take place from Monday 24 February to Thursday 27 February but was cancelled after a number of major brands pulled out due to concerns about the outbreak of coronavirus. This means hundreds or thousands of flights will likely be changed or cancelled and accommodation providers will scramble to fill those bookings. Barcelona, being a very popular tourist city, is not likely to feel too much of a sting from the MWC announcement but it means if you're wanting to travel there in the next two-to-three weeks, you might be able to find a bargain or two.
If you're flying from Perth, it's looking pretty good for you too with the cheapest flights starting from $1026 with Qatar Airways.
The only trouble is, these flights are within 10 days and for most of us, we'll need at least a month to have annual leave approved. If we take a look at those flights, they're still pretty good. An Asiana Airlines flight is going for $990 but you'll just have to deal with a painfully long layover in Seoul's Incheon airport on the way there. For a more palatable flight experience, there's an Etihad option for $1085 with a far better layover experience.
To get these cheap prices, however, you'll need to risk using third-party resale sites, which generally have thousands of concerning user reviews regarding poor or non-existent customer service. I've always booked through these sorts of sites in my desperation to save a good $1000 on flights during peak seasons and never had a problem but that's not to say it doesn't happen.
When booking through those third-party sites, I immediately use the ticket details to log in to the airline carrier's site to confirm the ticket went through and never look at those sometimes-sketchy sites again. The problem usually arises when there's an issue with the site buying your ticket so it's always good to research which one is offering the see if they have a presence in Australia so you can report to the relevant agencies if necessary, like the ACCC, and consider if the downright terrible user reviews outweigh the few hundreds or thousands you might be saving.
Alternatively, you can find the prices on Skyscanner and then head to the airline carrier's site to see if they're offering a similar amount to keep peace of mind. But if not, sometimes you take risks to get a great bargain and a much-deserved holiday.
In terms of accommodation, it's likely that a bunch of hotels that were booked out will free up due to the MWC cancellation and that means you might be in for a bargain. According to AirBnb, 45 per cent of places in Barcelona have been booked. That's fairly low but it's also out of the peak season for the city so it's not exactly clear if that's being affected much by MWC's cancellation.
A number of four-star accommodation providers are offering rooms for just over $100 a night, which is pretty great for a major tourist city. If you don't need luxury, you can stay in hostels or three-star hotels for the week for under $500.
So if you've been convinced, study up your Español and Catalan, research your favourite tapas and pintxos and enjoy the architectural genius of Gaudí. You're going to Barthelona.
Before you get on the elevator up the Sagrada Familia, you should know: the only way down is the stairs. This time on Hack Your City, we got your tips on Barcelona, capital of Catalonia, Spain. There’s some disagreement over just how tourist-friendly the area is; like many popular destinations, there’s some pushback from the locals. So behave respectfully and learn some phrases in Catalan (not Spanish) — speaking the language charms locals everywhere. Now let’s look at the best tips of the week.
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