Tigerair baggage sale signals a new round of airline price wars

Angus Kidman 1 December 2016 NEWS

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If the fares are cheap, something has to be expensive.

So here's a Tigerair sale which isn't about $9 fares for once. Between now and midday AEDT on 2 December, if you book checked baggage at the time of your flight, it will be half price. That means on a flight from Sydney to Perth, you'll pay $8.50 for a 15kg case, rather than $17.

This only applies to new bookings; you can't take advantage of it to add baggage to an existing booking. And it comes ahead of a further change in Tigerair's own fees: from 15 December, the charges if you don't book checked baggage until you get to the airport will go up. At a minimum of $75, they were hardly cheap in the first place.

We can expect to see a lot more messing around with baggage fees. Earlier this year, Qantas tweaked its excess baggage charges to match Virgin's.

One key reason? It's getting tougher for airlines to make money in other ways. One lazy path to making money has disappeared: airlines can no longer charge over-the-top fees just because you book with a credit card. So an effective technique to make money remains jacking up the extra charges, possibly while predicting that flights themselves could be free.

I'm a massive fan of cheap flights. Scoring a trip from London to the South of France for just 1 pence was one of the highlights of my cheapskate life. (Even after taxes were added, getting to Stansted cost me more than the actual flight.)

But I'm also a realist. Airlines need to try and make money somewhere, so if the flights are cheap, something else is going to become more expensive. The best tactic? Learn to pack efficiently with under 7kg in your carry-on luggage, and you won't get slugged with unexpected fees.

Angus Kidman's Findings column looks at new developments and research that help you save money, make wise decisions and enjoy your life more. It appears Monday through Friday on finder.com.au.

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