At a time when border rules are changing almost by the day, it’s understandable many of us have been hesitant to lock in getaway plans.
But if you’re regretting not booking a trip for the weekend before Australia Day – which, coupled with a Monday annual leave day, will give many Australians a four-day weekend – it’s actually not too late.
While last-minute flight bookings are traditionally a money trap, data from Skyscanner shows prices have actually dropped in the lead-up to Australia Day 2021, and you can still nab a bargain to key destinations such as the Gold Coast and Byron Bay, even if you book today.
“Australia Day celebrations may look a little different in 2021 but there are some great flight prices available for Australians who might be thinking of tagging on some annual leave to make it a last-minute break away or a visit to family and friends,” Skyscanner’s flight expert spokesperson told news.com.au.
“Historically last-minute travel bookings – and flights in particular – have been notoriously inflexible and expensive. However, the events of the past few months have forced airlines and hotels to take a more flexible approach, coupling amendable bookings with extremely attractive pricing.”
According to data released by Skyscanner on Thursday, the current cheapest available price from Sydney to Alice Springs is $213, which is a 45 per cent drop on the 2019/20 average.
Travellers can fly from Melbourne to Byron Bay and back for $256, which is 40 per cent down on the previous average. If you book today to fly from Adelaide to the Gold Coast, return flights cost $270 – 34 per cent less than previous prices.
Here are some of the best deals going right now, according to Skyscanner.
FLYING FROM MELBOURNE
Byron Bay: Best return economy price is $256, a drop of 45 per cent on 2019/20 average
Hobart: $108, 24 per cent drop
Launceston: $111, 12 per cent drop
FLYING FROM ADELAIDE
Hobart: $237, 34 per cent drop
Gold Coast: $270, 34 per cent drop
Brisbane: $251, 30 per cent drop
FLYING FROM BRISBANE
Cairns: $169, 26 per cent drop
Hobart: $261, 23 per cent drop
Hamilton Island: $180, 20 per cent drop
FLYING FROM SYDNEY
Alice Springs: $213, 45 per cent drop
The Whitsundays: $189, 35 per cent drop
Gold Coast: $136, 10 per cent drop
Travellers from Sydney should note Queensland’s border remains closed to 35 local government areas in and around Greater Sydney. Travellers from other parts of NSW are able to fly to Queensland via Sydney Airport if they do not leave the airport and have not been in a declared hotspot for the previous 14 days.
The Northern Territory has identified nine Sydney local government areas as COVID-19 hotspots and travellers from those locations are restricted from the territory.
But before you jump in, Skyscanner recommended travellers still opt for a flexible ticket – just in case something pops up expectedly.
“With the ever-changing travel restrictions, we’re seeing more and more travellers wait until the last minute to book travel but it can be daunting for anyone thinking about a last minute break to book with peace of mind,” the spokesperson said.
“The best way to make sure you’re covered is purchasing a flexible ticket – you can use the flexible search filter on Skyscanner to select flights with policies which entitle you to a refund, even if you have to cancel at the last minute, while others let you rearrange for another date if circumstances change.
“Travel insurance and the right level of cover is also more important than ever. Make sure any existing policy you have in place covers you for the travel you are looking to book.”
Skyscanner also said mixing and matching the airlines you choose to fly with can cut costs.
“Fares don’t have to be booked as returns, so compare prices and look at flying out with one airline and back with another to save dollars for holiday spending when you’re there,” the “Also, if you can consider travelling a day before or a day after your original departure dates, flying on less popular days of the week is always cheaper.”
Another option for saving money is to let the cheap prices dictate where you go, rather than having a specific detail in mind.
“Everywhere” search filters, such as on the Skyscanner website, will suggest destinations to you, based on price for your chosen dates.
If you’re travelling interstate, check the border entry requirements for your destination and ensure you have any necessary border permits ready.