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Why Are Australians Still Paying Double For Flights & Car Rental?

We supposedly live in a global market, where the consumer is king. Never before has the consumer had access to so many products and more competitive pricing. Apparently. With the arrival of online booking systems, travel has become more affordable than ever. So they say. If that’s the case, why then are Australians still paying double than Americans and Canadians for flights and car rental?

According to the Sydney Morning Herald last Sunday, Australians are being charged up to double the price of airfares and cruises than travelers who book the same journeys from overseas. Australians flying from Sydney to London return over Christmas on Singapore Airlines are being charged $2800. But buying a return ticket from London to Sydney costs only $1800. A return flight from Melbourne to Bali over Christmas on Garuda will set you back almost $1800. Buying a return ticket from Bali to Melbourne, however, is almost half the price at $925. As for car rental, my husband and I experienced first hand just how much Australians were being discriminated against on a road trip earlier this year across New England, in the USA. 

Our story begins with an initial quote from Budget’s online booking service for one month’s car rental in the US. With insurances, our total rental price came to $1821.93, double what Americans and Canadians would pay for the same rental period. Fed up with paying more for car rental, along with flights and everything else, than the rest of the world, my husband, Peter decided to find a way around this. Here’s what he did:
  • Peter noted that all car rental companies asked for a stipulation of the country we were booking from if we booked online or via the automated 1800 phone booking system. These systems thwarted non-US citizens from getting the best rates. Unable to get around this, Peter decided against booking our car rental online or over an automated phone booking system.
  • Waiting until we arrived in the US, Peter selected a car rental company that was not represented in Australia. In this case, we chose Dollar car rental.
  • Peter Googled Dollar’s branches in the city we were calling from, in this case it was Chicago, avoiding any toll free numbers. When he reached Dollar’s main call center, he asked to speak to an actual person, again avoiding any automated phone systems.
Because Peter had spoken to an actual person at Dollar, who took our car rental order without questioning where we lived or what country our credit card was from, we were able to get the same car rental rates as a US citizen. All in all, we saved ourselves US$900, a substantial amount which went towards our holiday. 

While we were thrilled with our saving, despite the small hassle, our blood boiled at the plethora of things that Australians pay too much for: flights, car rental, accommodation. So why does this happen? You can blame it on the strong Aussie dollar, with the airlines and car rental companies wanting a bit of the action. You can also blame it on supply and demand, with pricing faring higher the location of demand. Whatever. All I know is that, as a frequent traveler who works hard for her money, in the words of famous film “Network”, “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore!”

If you’re Australian, we’d love to hear how you’ve been able to get more competitive flight and car rental rates! Do drop us a line or add a comment to our comment box.

Posted by Victoria Ugarte on 11th December, 2012 | Trackbacks
Categories: Travel Tips
Tags: Flight, Australians Paying Too Much, Car Rental, Sydney Morning Herald

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