In Australia we’re often hit with higher prices than are on offer in other markets when buying goods ranging from cars to songs on iTunes to international flights.
There’s often not much we can do about it but other times the more savvy Aussies will find ways to pay international prices on their purchases. Online shopping has of course been a great source of international prices for Australians, much to the detriment of brick and mortar retailers.
When it comes to international flights, there is also a way to avoid the Australia Surcharge in some cases.
Just to give some background on what I’m on about, here are a few examples of airfares between city pairs in both directions, to illustrate how much more expensive the airfare is when it’s from Australia as opposed to to Australia.
These airfares are before adding taxes and surcharges, just the base fares.
Sydney to Istanbul return with Etihad in business class on the 1st of June: AU$6648
Istanbul to Sydney return with Etihad in business class on the 1st of June: AU$3278
Sydney to Johannesburg with Emirates in business class on the 1st of September: AU$7900
Johannesburg to Sydney with Emirates in business class on the 1st of September: AU$2103
As you can see, there are some pretty significant differences in price depending on the direction of travel. This isn’t always the case of course but this disparity does often exist for fares between Australia and Europe and Australia and Africa. When you’re looking at flights to somewhere that has cheaper fares in the other direction there is a way to sometimes reduce the cost of your ticket even when you’re departing from Australia.
A ticket with an open jaw at origin means the itinerary begins in one city, goes to the destination and then returns to a different city. For example, flying Sydney to London then London to Melbourne. The way this would usually price would be half of a Sydney to London return fare plus half a Melbourne to London return fare. In some circumstances though, when different markets are involved and only with certain airlines, the airfare will price as half an Origin to Destination return and half a Destination to Origin return.
An example that will sometimes work is flying from somewhere in Asia to Europe then back to Australia. This can sometimes price as half an Asia to Europe return fare plus half a Europe to Australia fare. This means there are no fares on the ticket with an origin in Australia. Meaning no Australia Surcharge!
Obviously, this sort of itinerary will require getting to Asia to position for the ticket. Having said that, if you’re saving thousands of dollars, one little flight with AirAsia or Jetstar isn’t the end of the world. Even full service carriers often have fantastic one way economy fares from Australia to Asia. You could then try and upgrade the flight with points. Or not. Or just book a business class one way award ticket to Asia to begin with. Anyway…
Here’s a currently bookable itinerary using this method:
So that’s Bangkok to Berlin and then Athens to Sydney in business class with Etihad (this example also has an open jaw at the destination, making it a double open jaw itinerary). The total price for this ticket? AU$2963 per person including all taxes!
The base fares that are combined in this price are AU$1782 Bangkok to Berlin return and AU$3033 Athens to Sydney return. So the price is half of each of those fares plus taxes. When you compare that to a Sydney to Athens or Berlin business class fare with Etihad for the same dates, both of which are $6648 plus taxes, it’s easy to see how you can save a good amount of cash by booking your flights this way.
There are a few things worth noting if you’re interested in booking something like this:
- There are only a handful of carriers this works well with due to different carriers having different combinability rules in their fares. The best are Etihad, Qatar and Finnair.
- Etihad usually allows double open jaws whereas Qatar don’t, meaning with Qatar you generally need to fly into and out of the same destination city.
- You should never book something like this without, at the very least, an overnight in your Asian gateway. As you will be travelling on two separate tickets, neither airline takes any responsibility for the connection. If you have a same day connection and miss it for any reason you’re pretty much going to need to buy a new ticket.
- These fares don’t always work. It’s a good idea to keep an eye out for sale fares, particularly from Etihad and Qatar, even when those sales don’t involve departures from Australia. When Qatar have their 2-for-1 sales there are usually some amazing opportunities for cheap business class tickets.
- Make sure you’re all over the fare rules. In other markets, airlines will sell non-changeable business class tickets. This is not all that common for fares departing Australia but it’s not unheard of for fares originating in Asia or Europe.
- Keep an eye out for bonus miles promotions. Both Etihad and Qatar often have bonus miles promotions running at the same time as their sales, meaning you might be able to score a heap of miles on top of your bargain airfare.