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Frugal flyers: Millions of Aussies opt for budget airlines when travelling

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Millions of Aussie travellers are using budget airlines to cut the cost of holidays, according to Finder.

A Finder survey of 1,097 respondents revealed a third (35%) of Australians – equivalent to more than 7 million people – have flown with a low-cost carrier in the last 12 months.

Of those who had flown with a budget airline, more than half (59%) said they'd experienced an issue with their airline.

The most common issue faced by low-cost flyers was delayed or cancelled flights, with 30% saying they'd experienced this, while 16% were stung by hidden fees as part of their flight.

Poor service affected as many as 10% of budget airline passengers, with the same amount (10%) saying their baggage was lost.

Younger generations were more likely to take a budget friendly flight, with more than half of gen Z (53%) and 2 in 5 millennials (43%) saying they've done this.

Angus Kidman, travel expert at Finder, said budget airlines are becoming a popular way to keep travel costs low.

"The rise of low-cost airlines has made travel more affordable for many by offering basic flights at a discounted price.

"Saving on flights puts more money back in your pocket to spend while you're away, but always check your fare covers everything you need.

"On low-cost carriers, basic inclusions such as luggage and seat selection will cost extra, and connections aren't guaranteed."

The Finder survey also found 42% of Australians have taken an international trip in the past five years, spending on average $6,765.

That's $57.6 billion spent on travelling abroad since 2019.

The most is spent on accommodation, with Aussies forking out $2,343 on average, closely followed by flights ($2,153).

Food ($748), activities ($547) and car hire ($311) round out the top five international travelling costs.

Kidman said higher demand for international travel keeps pushing prices up.

"International travel has become more costly as pent-up demand and the peak European summer season coincide.

"It's not just flights and accommodation, it's the day trips, transport, meals and insurance.

"The cost of living crisis has put international travel out of reach for many Australians."

Kidman said travelling on a budget can be fun and save you money as long as you do your research.

"It's often true that you get what you pay for and lost luggage or flight delays can add unwanted stress to your holiday.

"Choose a holiday that fits within your budget – ski vacations and long-haul travel are among the most costly.

"International trips are very expensive, so safeguards like travel insurance can give you some added peace of mind when you travel by offering benefits such as covering lost luggage or cancelled accommodation," Kidman said.

Have you had any issues with low-cost carriers in the last 12 months?
Yes, my flight was delayed or cancelled30%
Yes, there were hidden fees16%
Yes, the service was poor10%
Yes, my baggage was lost10%
Yes, other3%
Source: Finder survey of 382 respondents who have flown with a budget airline in the last 12 months, July 2023
How much have you spent on your most recent international trip (in Australian dollars) for each of the following categories?
Pre-paid activities (e.g. tours, short cruises)$547
Car hire$311
Meals and groceries$748
Source: Finder survey of 462 respondents who have taken an international trip in the last 5 years, July 2023

Going on a trip soon? Here's how to protect yourself from travel trouble.

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