10 Tips: How To Save Money On Holiday Flights Before Christmas

With the cost of flights and travel sky-high, we’ve compiled ten useful tips and tricks to save money and get a good deal on flights.
Last modified: 8th April 2024
William Jolly  |  

The cost of flights has taken off in the past couple of years, pun intended. In Australia, the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) found that the cost of international travel, mainly airfares, was up more than 12% from 12 months to June 2023. Globally, average ticket prices have risen at twice the rate of inflation!

Given the Christmas holiday period in December and January is usually the most expensive time to fly, it’s more important than ever to try and snag a bargain.

No matter what time of the year you’re reading this article, or whether you’re flying overseas or somewhere in our own backyard, it contains ten tips and tricks to save money and get a good deal on flights.

On this page:



Where are Aussies headed this Christmas?

Australians love to travel, and December is usually the busiest month. In December 2022, the ABS recorded more than 1.5 million departures ahead of the Christmas holidays, a monthly increase of 337,860 trips. November saw 1,177,430 overseas departures from Australia, an increase of 162,610 trips compared to October.

According to the ABC, here’s where Aussie travellers went between December 1 and January 15 2022, based on accommodation demand from Expedia:

Most Popular Travel Destinations for Australians in December

Rank

Overseas Destination

Domestic Destination

Bali, Indonesia

Melbourne

2.

Tokyo, Japan

Sydney

3.

Singapore

Brisbane

4.

London, United Kingdom

Gold Coast

5.

Fiji

Adelaide

6.

Phuket, Thailand

Perth

7.

Queenstown, New Zealand

Cairns

8.

Los Angeles, United States

Hobart

9.

Rome, Italy

Maroochydore

10.

Bangkok, Thailand

Canberra

We can expect to see these destinations full of Australians again this Christmas.

How much is the average international airfare?

While it can be challenging to find an up-to-date average price for international flights due to their sheer number, 2022 data from Aviation analytics firm Cirium reported that return airfares to Europe in 2022 cost $2,109 on average. Expedia, meanwhile, found the average international return ticket price was approximately $1,761 for economy class.

Those numbers are likely much higher now. In June-July 2023,  travel search engine Kayak found that among the top 10 most searched international destinations for Aussies, only one (Auckland) saw a drop in airfares compared to 2022.

Most-searched destinations

Average return economy airfare

% change since 2022

  1. Bali, Indonesia

$897

18%

2. London, UK

$2,751

13%

3. Bangkok, Thailand

$1,080

N/A

4. Manila, Philippines

$1,051

+ 6%

5. Tokyo, Japan

$1,370

N/A

6. Athens, Greece

$2,933

+ 36%

7. Singapore

$1,095

+ 24%

8. Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

$990

N/A

9. Auckland, New Zealand

$588

  - 18%

10. Paris, France

$2,625

19%

Source: Kayak, via The New Daily. Data for the June-July school holiday period.

 

Are domestic airfares cheaper?

Domestic flights are usually much cheaper than flying overseas, although that’s not always the case due to the distance between some of our cities. Sometimes, flying to New Zealand or Bali can be cheaper than flying to Perth!

However, we found the average domestic flight is much less expensive compared to the figures in the table above. Our analysis of domestic airfare prices from the Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics (BITRE) shows the average of the lowest available prices across all domestic routes in 2022 was $396. But the cheapest airfare (on average) when flying from Perth to Sydney in 2022 was $755: nearly double the average!

Top 10 tips to save on holiday airfares

See the top 10 tips for saving on flights below - you can click the links to jump to each one.

Book as soon as possible

Booking your flights well in advance, preferably several months ahead, can often secure the best deals. Airlines tend to offer lower prices for tickets booked early, especially for popular travel periods like Christmas.

There’s plenty of data to back this up. 2018 research by Skyscanner showed that booking your flights 17 to 18 weeks before Christmas offers a huge 30% saving on average. More recently, Expedia reported a similar number: international travellers who booked flights six months in advance saved 25% on average, while domestic travellers saved 30%. 

Book flights for specific days

The price for a flight to the same country from the same airport can vary drastically from day to day, and certain times of the year are much more expensive than others. The most expensive times of the year to book flights coincide with the major holidays: Christmas, school holidays and Easter.

Weekend flights are also typically the most expensive and highest in demand. But booking your flight on a weekend (not the flight date itself) is often cheaper than doing it on a weekday. Travellers who booked on Sundays instead of Fridays tended to save about 20% on average.

According to Skyscanner, the 21st of December is the most expensive date to fly out of Australia, with fares on that date 12% higher than the average for the month. As it turns out, Christmas Day is the cheapest date in December due to low demand, with flights on the day 9% cheaper than the monthly average.

In comparison, the cheapest month to fly tends to be May, which is just before our winter hits, but summer is just beginning in Europe and North America. According to more Skyscanner research, May flights are 13% cheaper than average.

Being flexible with your flight dates can lead to considerable savings.

Can you fly from a different airport?

Consider other Australian cities to depart from if you have the time and the costs of getting there aren’t too much. Smaller or less busy airports may offer more competitive fares. For example, driving to the Gold Coast from Brisbane and flying from there can be cheaper, even if you’re flying overseas.

This can also apply to your destination city as well. Whether you’re flying domestic or international, arriving at a secondary airport can be cheaper. It’ll all depend on how thoroughly you research your flights before booking!

Compare flights from different websites

Use flight comparison websites such as Skyscanner, Webjet, Flight Centre and more. As well as apps to compare prices across multiple airlines and booking platforms. You can also use these sites to watch for exclusive deals and discounts.

An even better way to do this is to compare flights from third-party websites, then go to the airline and book the flights directly. Flight comparison sights often receive a small commission from sending traffic to airlines, so you can avoid this by going straight to the source.

Set up price alerts

Signing up for fare alerts or notifications from airlines and travel websites can be a great way to save on flights. This way, you can receive notifications when ticket prices drop for your chosen destination, allowing you to book at the best possible rate.

Everyone wants to go to Japan, Paris, London, or any of those ‘top 10’ destinations we discussed above. But if you want to save money not just on flights but the overall cost of your holiday, why not try somewhere off the beaten track?

Instead of a ski trip to the French Alps, how about some lesser-visited European countries, like Bulgaria, Hungary, or Croatia? Backpacker favourites like Indonesia, Thailand, and Vietnam can also offer cheaper flights, plus the added bonus of a good exchange rate, making your money go further.

If you’re unsure which country to go to, Google Flights has a search option that doesn't require entering your destination. Instead, you can enter your city of origin and preferred travel dates, and it’ll show you all sorts of places you might have never even thought of on your own. 

Take the long route

No one likes being on planes for hours at a time or waiting around at the airport gate with heavy eyes. But flying overseas can be much cheaper if you’re willing to cop a stopover. Flying direct can be a lot more convenient, but it can have a massive impact on the cost of your tickets, especially if you’re crossing an ocean.

This theory is backed up by a quick look at flights from Sydney to Los Angeles. The cheapest flight for a return ticket for one week (October 24 2023, to October 31) is $1,221. This flight has a four-hour stopover in Honolulu (Hawaii), but comes with a 15-hour stopover. 

The fastest flight, meanwhile, is a direct flight from LA to Sydney, taking just 14 hours in total with no stopover. However, this return flight will cost $3,800, more than three times the cost of the cheapest connecting flight!

If you’re not in a rush to reach your destination or don’t mind a night in a new city, then taking the long way to your destination can be a great way to save.

Book two one-way tickets

In some cases, booking two one-way tickets with different airlines can be more cost-effective than a return ticket. Although not always the case, return flights can often cost more for their convenience.

Compare prices for one-way and round-trip options to find the best value.

Compromise with cheaper accommodation

Sometimes there just isn’t much you can do about the high cost of airfares. But you still have control over most other aspects of your holiday budget. In most cases, accommodation is the second-biggest travel cost behind flights, so this is where you can make the biggest savings. For example, a couple travelling to Europe for two weeks might pay over AUD $4,000 for accommodation.

Consider staying in budget-friendly accommodations, such as hostels or vacation rentals, instead of a four or five-star hotel. Other ways to save on accommodation include:

  • Booking in advance: Especially during peak seasons, booking well in advance can help you secure better rates.
  • Using booking websites: Platforms like Booking.com or Airbnb might offer deals or discounts.
  • Consider homestays: Staying with locals can be cheaper and offers a more authentic experience.
  • Look for Package Deals: Some travel agencies offer package deals that combine flights, accommodations, and activities.

Average Daily Accommodation Cost (AUD)

USA

$201

UK

$151

New Zealand

$108

Indonesia

$51

Japan

$94

Australia

$106

Source: budgetyourtrip.com, accurate as of September 2023. Dollar amounts are based on 'mid-range' travellers.

Pack light!

Finally, a good way to save a surprisingly large amount is to pack light and avoid baggage fees at the airport. There are usually limits to the number of bags you can check in for your flight and the weight of these bags. 

Our two largest airlines - Qantas and Virgin - charge quite a lot for additional or overweight baggage. For example, Virgin will charge extra for luggage weighing over 23kg with a maximum limit of 32kg.

According to their websites, you can be charged the following as of 2023 for domestic flights:

QantasVirgin
Additional baggage$100$65 - $170
Overweight baggage$50 (per piece of baggage)$60 (per piece of baggage)
Accurate as of 23/10/23. For domestic flights only.

These fees can be even greater for international trips. Some tips to avoid these fees before getting to the airport include:

  • Travel with just a carry-on bag if possible, and buy what you need at your destination.
  • Pack versatile clothing and plan to do laundry if necessary during your trip to reduce the need for excess luggage.
  • Buy a lighter suitcase, or borrow one from a friend.
  • Weigh your luggage before you head to the airport.
  • If you’re over the limit, put some heavier items in a travelling companion's suitcase if they’ll let you.

Personal loans for your flights

According to our data, holidays and travel are among the most common reasons for taking out a loan. When you consider how much flights alone can cost, let alone the cost of an entire holiday, using a personal loan to fund your next trip is entirely reasonable.

A Jacaranda Express Holiday Loan can provide up to $25,000 for your next holiday. You can apply in just 5-12 minutes1 and receive your funds on the same day2. What’s more, you can check if you qualify first without impacting your credit score at all!

Thanks to our fixed interest rates and flexible loan terms, you can repay this loan over time with manageable instalments suited to your budget.

Check out our Holiday Loans today, or download our app below and get started on an application.


The information on this website is for general information only. It should not be considered professional advice from the website owner - Jacaranda Finance. Jacaranda Finance is not a financial adviser, and the content on this page does not consider your objectives, financial situation or needs. You should consider seeking independent legal, financial, taxation or other advice to check how the website information relates to your unique circumstances.

Jacaranda Finance is not liable for any loss caused, whether due to negligence or otherwise arising from the use of, or reliance on, the information provided directly or indirectly by the use of this website.

Written by - William Jolly

Content Manager
William is the Content Manager at Jacaranda Finance. He has worked as both a journalist and a media advisor at some of Australia's biggest financial comparison sites such as Canstar, Compare the Market and Savings.com.au, and is passionate about helping Australians find the right money solution for them.

You can get in touch with William via williamj@jacarandafinance.com.au.
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