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For the uninitiated traveller, choosing the right time to book travel and mastering the art of cutting air fares without cutting corners can feel like one of life’s great mysteries. The constant fluctuation of airfares can make or break your travel budget.

Australia’s premier luxury travel advisory group, the Goldman Group shares its air travel hacks to avoid busting the budget, and take the chore out of planning travel.

Surpass the surcharge

If you’re not in a rush to get to your destination, choose to fly into a satellite city. For example, flying into Manchester is almost always significantly cheaper than flying into London. For domestic travel, booking flights midweek will avoid weekend surcharges that many airlines have – or plan to introduce.

Seek advisory

A good deal is often not the best deal, which is why it’s essential to seek advice from an expert. There is a common misconception that using a travel advisor is costly in comparison to booking online, but if done incorrectly, booking online can wind up costing a pretty penny.

“Travelling has never been easier than in 2019 thanks to accessibility, the internet and social media, but more often than not, the fine print is ignored. As a rule of thumb, we tell clients that if the deal sounds too good to be true – then it most likely is. The amount of online bookings we have amended, resulting from a customer not acknowledging the fine print and booking incorrectly online, is outstanding…from hotel bookings for hotels that don’t even exist, to additional hidden fees – we have seen it all,” says David Goldman, joint managing director of the Goldman Group.

Goldman’s best advice is to have a budget in mind before approaching your travel advisor and avoid cutting corners when shopping for fares. Travel advisors are privy to special fares, hotel deals, and agent-only sales that consumers won’t find online, and can access upgrades, complimentary inflight Wi-Fi and more. This will not only save the customer money but enhance the customer’s experience.

The best seat in the house

Selecting the best possible seat on a flight is an important part of travel preparation for many. Those who spend a lot of time in the air tend to have a strong preference for where to sit, and that’s typically near the front of the cabin next to the aisle or window – never in a middle seat.

When flying Qantas, you can choose your seat as part of the booking process. However, what you may not be aware of, is the ability to review your seat choice 80 hours before departure. Pending availability, you can significantly improve your position in the cabin.

This seat hack arises as Qantas restricts access to certain parts of each cabin to elite frequent flyers. The most sought-after seats at the front are reserved for platinum-level customers and above, while the next few rows are accessible to gold status holders and above. Silver and bronze members are only able to select seats further back. These restrictions are lifted 80 hours before a flight, which means all passengers can access the seats that remain unallocated. So, if you want to get the best possible spot in the plane, check your seat allocation 80 hours prior to departure.

Hotel (friends) with benefits

While obtaining hotel status is no easy feat, signing up to the rewards programme is. Many hotel reward programmes offer complimentary Wi-Fi – even if guests aren’t frequent visitors. Many credit card programmes also offer rewards with hotel chains, which can result in an effortless fast-track to a room upgrade or complimentary services.

“Ultimately, booking travel through a travel advisor will result in the most cost effective, tailored and benefit-friendly travel plans – with little or no room for errors, that stem from not reading the fine print,” says David Goldman, joint managing director of the Goldman Group.