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JYK Oct 14th, 2009 01:00 PM

Question about flexibility of OZ domestic flights
I couldn't think of clearer subject line for this question, hopefully I will get some good responses.

How flexible are OZ domestic airlines, on the day of reservation if we wanted to try to hop on an earlier flight?

For example: Our fligh into SYD arrives around 8:30AM. thinking we would need a couple of hours for immigration/customs, we reserved 1PM flight on Qantas to Cairns. If we get thru the process earlier, and can make the 10:30AM flight, would Qantas let us get on an earlier flight without extra charges?

Similar cases with flights on Virgin Blue and Tiger Airways, just incase we have a change of heart or something and want the flexibility to hop on earlier flights.

thanks for your help! Leaving in 10 days...

emerald125 Oct 14th, 2009 01:09 PM


Depending on your ticket type Qantas may let you change but if its a discount ticket then I very much doubt it. I imagine Virgin Blue and Tiger would be even less flexible... I have heard of people being able to change a Sydney - Melb flight as these are pretty much hourly but Melb - Cairns is less so.

Neil_Oz Oct 14th, 2009 01:42 PM

JYK, the question is a good one but probably moot, as I wouldn't count on getting through customs & immigration in time for an earlier flight. The domestic terminals are about 1 km away from the international terminal, and my experience of morning arrivals at Sydney isn't encouraging (it can be a bit of a zoo*). Apart from that I agree with emerald125 - it's unlikely that the same airline would have departures to CNS so close together.

* (Editorial comment) - and the previous government's privatising of the airports hasn't helped matters, to put it mildly.

JYK Oct 14th, 2009 03:55 PM

We are going from SYD to Cairns, back to Syd, then to MEL back to Syd to go back to US. Crazy amount of flying but best fit for our plans.

Immigration time was the thought behind picking the 1PM flight, Qantas has a 9:30 and 10:30 flight before that.

We are flying Tiger Airways SYD-MEL. Now I'm wishing we will come back to SYD a bit early to have enough time for another ferry ride or something. Oh well..

Neil_Oz: US has privatized security screening! makes me feel really safe when I accidently get by with bottled water. Flying is such a hassel nowadays, as I'm packing 3oz liquid bottles.

Bokhara2 Oct 14th, 2009 04:22 PM

Unless you're on a "Fully flexible" fare, none of the carriers will automatically let you change free of charge, JYK. Qantas MAY, if you're not on the cheapest*, Virgin probably will for a smallish charge if you change 24+hours before the flight.
I don't fly Jetstar but they are notoriously inflexible. Have no experience with Tiger either, but I think the adage "you get what you pay for" probably applies with them, too. They probably would let you change same day if you pay the fare difference and they have capacity, but I imagine that's not what you're asking.

Qantas offered me an earlier flight when I checked in in Melbourne last week, on a pretty cheap fare, but I've been a QF Club member for centuries, so maybe that helped.

Neil_Oz Oct 14th, 2009 05:46 PM

Tiger's problem is that they have a microscopically small fleet, which means that any schedule disruption (weather, mechanical) has a proportiontely bigger chance of causing downstream delays. Qantas in particular has such a large fleet that a replacement aircraft can usually be found at short notice, if necessary pulled out of non-critical maintenance. As Bokhara2 says, you get what you pay for.

"...makes me feel really safe when I accidently get by with bottled water"

JYK, they were much more successful with the bottle of liqueur I stupidly forgot to transfer from my hand baggage to my checked baggage.

Peter_S_Aus Oct 14th, 2009 06:12 PM

Tiger Airways is pretty inflexible, and I’d encourage the OP to adhere to their check in times. If you don’t check in by the advertised time, then they won’t let you board. Don’t be late by even a minute.

“Customer Complaints” is one of Tiger’s busiest departments, and they have not yet got any sort of handle on the concept of customer service.

Susan7 Oct 14th, 2009 09:20 PM

I've been offered earlier domestic flights by Qantas probably half a dozen times, mainly because I'm one of those people who almost always gets to the airport way too early. So I think it's quite possible you could be offered an earlier flight.

dkw Oct 15th, 2009 04:41 AM

Slightly off topic but, we flew Tiger Syd-Mel last week and DH's seat was covered with a plastic garbage bag!?!?! Made us wonder what happened on that seat earlier :) was a $28 flight, but still......

Neil_Oz Oct 15th, 2009 02:44 PM

dkw, I'd say someone in that seat had a very bad fright. Extreme turbulence, maybe.

Neil_Oz Oct 15th, 2009 02:46 PM

Actually I don't see how any airline can last long charging fares as low as Tiger's, so I wouldn't be optimistic about their survival long-term or even medium term.

Bokhara2 Oct 15th, 2009 03:03 PM

Shades of Compass & Southern Cross, Neil?
Even without Hawk & Ables, it is hard to see them running on these fare structures for more than a moment.

Neil_Oz Oct 15th, 2009 03:39 PM

Bokhara, I think Tiger is Singapore (?)-owned, so I guess if they pulled out it would be a strategic retreat more than a Compass-style implosion. It's hard to see anyone mounting a serious challenge to Qantas/Jetstar and Virgin Blue in this market.

dkw Oct 15th, 2009 09:13 PM

Neil, you make a good point. As we were sitting on the plane (with the garbage bag crinkling underneath DH) we were wondering just which corners have been cut to allow a $28 flight. Not very reassuring :(

MissGreen Oct 17th, 2009 02:06 AM

Forget Tiger airlines for changes. They have so few flights so there is really nothing to change to and because they are so cheap they are always booked. Virgin you might have a chance. I was able to get on an earlier Qantas domestic flight as I got to the airport earlier. There was no hassle they just put me on the earlier one as there were seats. I guess, if seats are free on an aircraft about to go, they probably won't be sold, so the airline doesn't mind you sitting in them.

JYK Oct 20th, 2009 08:34 AM

thanks everyone. It sounds like OZ domestic airlines have same issues as US's. As I also paid $28/leg to SYD-MEL, I would be just as happy to travel safely.

4 more days!!

Bokhara2 Oct 20th, 2009 02:37 PM

At least Tiger flies out of Tullamarine with QF & Virgin and not Avalon as Jetstar does, adding $50-$60 to the taxi fare.

Tullamarine to Melbourne CBD is about $50 - $55; Avalon to CBD $107 -$115 according to Silver Top today.

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