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Woman shocked by $1700 quote for Qantas domestic flights

A travel expert has outlined productive steps for finding the cheapest flights online to minimise the fare shock.

An Aussie is outraged after being quoted $1,700 for Qantas domestic flights between Sydney and Queensland — but a travel expert has advised there are several steps people can take to find a better fare.

London-based traveller Hayleye has plans to return to Australia for the festive period, but was astounded at the prices when looking for a domestic flight to link up with her international arrival. Searching for Qantas flights to travel between Sydney and Hervey Bay in Queensland on December 27 and returning January 8, she was quoted £880 ($1710) from online travel agent booking.com.

"This is what they are charging from NSW to QLD. This makes me beyond angry!" she said.

Left, Qantas plane can be seen in the sky. Right, screenshot of the Aussies flight prices.
An Australian traveller was being offered return flights with Qantas from Sydney to Hervey Bay for just over $1,700 (equivalent to £879). Source: Getty and Facebook

Hayleye admits it was not the cheapest available but couldn't believe the airline would charge so much. One person suggested the price was higher because she was booking outside of Australia, but that's not always the case.

Australian Traveller Managing Director Quentin Long says several factors come into play in determining a quoted fare, and shared steps people can take to find the best price.

"There's all sorts of flight pricing algorithms that influence exactly what price you get shown," he told Yahoo News. "You've got the margin that some of these third party groups put on top ... You've got to understand how they make their money, and what they're trying to achieve."

Factors that impact cost of booking flights online

Mr Long's first tip would be to shop around for the best price. He recommends using a site like Skyscanner that searches multiple travel sites, and then you can compare offers.

A quick search shows these particular flights were available on Tuesday directly through Qantas for a total of $935, significantly less than the price she was quoted, and those fares appear to be also available if booking from overseas.

Mr Long said there are several factors which impact the price of flights online, such as your location and type of fare, as well as whether you are a loyalty scheme member or using a third-party platform to book — like this woman was.

He also recommended "flexibility" on variables like dates, layovers and airlines when seeking the best price. "The more flexible you are, the more options you'll have."

Direct flights on budget carrier Jetstar for close to the same departure times, are less than half the amount of the Qantas fares but don't include baggage. Travelling a day later, if possible, saves about $85 on the Qantas fares, while travelling away from the summer peak period would achieve significant savings.

Mr Long said when using third-party booking platforms be careful to check what they are charging you, including their fees and the conditions of the fare they are selling you.

Many online were quick to respond to the traveller's complaint online. Some shared their frustrations with Qantas prices and others passed on booking suggestions. Some advised getting family members to check if the price is cheaper if bought in Australia. Another said booking a flight to a regional airport during the peak summer period is bound to attract a premium fare.

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