It’s a rare sight that you’ll find an all-inclusive carrier offering the cheapest fares on a domestic route.
So if that blue moon doesn’t appear, when can you expect an all-inclusive airline like Qantas or Virgin Australia to be better value than a budget airline like Jetstar or Tigerair?
The answer, according to an analysis by finder.com.au, is when you weigh up the cost of your flight extras. Particularly, heavy oversized checked luggage.
Focusing on the specific domestic route of Sydney to Adelaide, finder.com.au compared costs across Qantas, Virgin Australia, Jetstar and Tigerair in various scenarios.
These included opting to choose your own seat, grabbing an in-flight meal and adding checked luggage, all of which are luxuries that are absorbed within the price of an all-inclusive flight but that cost extra with budget airlines.
What was found was that generally, even with purchased extras, budget airlines still came out cheaper and by a reasonable amount too.
It was only when baggage reached a sizable weight and shape that all-inclusive started to become better value, with only a $26 difference between the two types of travel each way.
Couple this with the cost of an in-flight meal and seat selection both ways and all-inclusive flights begin to become the more cost-effective option.
To reach this point, you need to fly with 21kg of checked luggage that’s classified as an oversized item, such as a set of golf clubs or a backpacker’s pack.
This is undoubtedly an extreme and highly irregular scenario, but if you’re tossing up between flying all-inclusive or budget, there are some extra benefits to flying with a luxury airline. For example, flight cancellations.
“A cheap flight can quickly become more than you’ve bargained for if you choose to change your booking at the last minute or you need to cancel,” said Angus Kidman, travel expert at finder.com.au.
“And let’s not forget that you can accumulate points to put towards your next holiday when you choose to fly with an all-inclusive airline.”
If you’re happy to board with hand luggage and minimal fuss, a bargain fare on low-cost carrier can be a great way to score a cheap getaway.
However, if you’re travelling with overweight and oversized baggage, all-inclusive can give you the added weight and space that you need.
As a bonus, even fairly elementary membership levels of Qantas’s Frequent Flyer program or Virgin’s Velocity program can award you increased luggage allowance, so that you can bring more for less.