Airlines are raising prices as fewer seats, higher demand and fuel costs put pressure in capacity.
Premium seats are hardest hit, as airlines bring more planes out of mothballs to meet demand.
Travellers out of Melbourne and Brisbane are reported to be hardest hit, with data provided by Webjet showing business class fares on routes like Melbourne-Los Angeles and Brisbane-LA on average $12,071 and $9925 return.
The Financial Review reported recently that Bali and Singapore flights were more affordable, with fares at $1317 and $2421 return.
Exploretravel spoke to several agents who said some prices had shot up as a result of seat shortages. One airline was even charging $800 for baggage.
One Sydney travel agent who wanted to remain anonymous said that fares to Europe had increased from $2,500 to $4,000 return.
She and other travel agents attributed the increase to the lack of availability. Limited destinations are open, so the demand is higher than usual, pushing prices up.
She said: “There are a lot of deals to Asia. We’re getting enquiries for Bali and Indonesia. Fiji is completely sold out for the next couple of months.”
The Sydney based travel agent said that there’s nothing on sale and it just comes down to availability. Austrian Airlines and Lufthansa had good deals but it depends on the dates that you are looking to travel.
She’s had enquiries for December and January for Europe and that period is never cheap. She said that her clients were happy with the price and it worked for her.
Everything Travel’s Marketing and Leisure Consultant, Krystal Brazel said she’s found cheap fares to San Francisco. United and Delta have some great fares. So does Singapore Airlines to Singapore if you can get cheap seats. She expected fares to come down as regions opened up.
“When Vanuatu, Cook Islands and Samoa open up, Fiji will reduce their fares to be more competitive.”
Getting seats was difficult as a travel agent at Knox Travel in Melbourne said.
“There are no seats to London. You can’t get a fare for $2,000 or $2,500. There’s no availability. It’s acute.”
She said that even business class had gone up and had quoted a business class fare for $13,000 to Toronto. You can’t get a fare for $8,000 anymore.
She suggested looking at different airlines and said that Virgin Airlines was much cheaper than Qantas. She had quoted Melbourne to Launceston on Qantas for $722.25 but when she looked at Virgin Airlines it was only $254.
She warned that when you book a cheap fare you need to look at the conditions of the fare.
“Malaysian Airlines is supposed to be a full service airline but they don’t allow baggage and if you want to add baggage it’s $800 each way.”
Don’t Forget Travel Group director Andrew Sullivan said business class seats were proving hard to come by in the northern summer period, with return fares as high as $14,000 for London flights, compared to $5000-$7000 pre-Covid.
As a result some travellers were flying economy from Australia to Singapore, and then changing airlines in order to fly in a premium class to Europe.
“We’re finding deals of $7000- $8000 (in business return) with Turkish Air or Lufthansa for example, but that’s still above what you would’ve paid before the pandemic,” Mr Sullivan said.
“There’s just a general shortage of flights and capacity because airlines are still recruiting and retraining staff and recommissioning aircraft to get back to 2019 levels.”
Experts said the border policies of countries like China and Japan were holding back the travel recovery by restricting flight capacity.
As one of the airlines hardest hit by the drawn out pandemic, Hong Kong-based Cathay Pacific continued to operate at a fraction of its 2019 capacity to Australia.