Life Travel With the cost of domestic air fares tipped to rise, this is when to book to snag a deal

With the cost of domestic air fares tipped to rise, this is when to book to snag a deal

With international travel off the cards, the Gold Coast is proving to be Australia's most popular domestic destination. Photo: Getty
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Recent coronavirus border closures forced many Australians to scrap their holiday travel plans at the last minute, and some are now setting their sights on the Easter period instead.

Although there are still some bargain air fares to destinations including Hobart on offer, holidaymakers are being warned that the prices are likely to rise sharply.

Cancelled Christmas travel has led to pent-up demand that will trigger steep price increases for key travel dates, including the April school holiday season, according to analysis of flight prices by travel search engine Kayak.

Domestic air fares are already up 19 per cent year on year, Kayak found, and flights for the upcoming holiday period are expected to spike in coming weeks.

The coronavirus pandemic has made future prices difficult to predict, but Kayak’s analysis of historical data suggests that a 20 per cent increase in current prices for Easter is expected to occur within the next month.

To avoid paying a premium, travellers should aim to book their Easter holiday flights before February 7.

“Even though flight searches are down (-22 per cent year over year), Australia has been one of the fastest-rebounding domestic tourism markets globally and following a Christmas of cancelled plans for many, pent-up demand is quickly driving prices up for travel dates in early 2021,” Kayak’s Ben Connell said.

Historical data shows January is usually the best time to book flights to beat the predicted price hike for April holiday travel.”

For those planning a getaway for the winter holiday period in June and July, Kayak data suggests that booking flights in March to mid-April will allow travellers to beat price hikes.

Australia’s most popular domestic holiday spots

Since COVID-19 forced international travel to a halt, Queensland has proved to be the most popular destination for Australians.

The Sunshine State is home to three of the top five domestic holiday spots, according to Kayak’s analysis.

The Gold Coast topped the list, with the average price of a ticket up 28 per cent year on year to $246.

Tasmanian capital Hobart came in second, but it’s still a bargain for travellers with the average ticket price down 2 per cent year on year to $232.

Third was Brisbane, with the average cost of a ticket pegged at $272, up 17 per cent year on year.

Cairns was the fourth most popular holiday spot, with the average plane fare up 15 per cent year on year to $341.

Sydney came in fifth with an average price of $209, up 2 per cent year on year.

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