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Are the ‘frills’ worth it? Expert compares costs of flights on major airlines with budget airlines

June 13, 2019 Loyalty No Comments Email Email

Do low-cost flights really offer a bargain, or do the included extras in full-service flights justify the higher pricing? Independent platform for one of Australia’s biggest communities of frequent flyers and rewards point experts Point Hacks ( has done the research to deliver the answer.

Point Hacks compared the total costs of Qantas and Virgin Australia with Jetstar and Tigerair by flying one-way from Sydney to Brisbane, and including minimum 20kg luggage, in-flight catering, seat selection, and in-flight entertainment and wi-fi.


Qantas’ ticket price comes out as the most expensive of all the four airlines at $185 plus payment fees (credit card surcharge and booking fees). Although the priciest, the ticket price includes all the extras such as seat selection, 23kg of checked luggage allowance (in addition to 14kg of carry-on baggage) and in-flight catering and entertainment.

Standard seat selection and full meals and beverages are always complimentary with Qantas, but extra legroom seats can be purchased for an additional $25. Entertainment wise, wi-fi is not equipped on all of Qantas aircrafts, however in-flight entertainment is always available.


A fare with Qantas’ subsidiary Jetstar costs $97 plus payment fees, which does not include any extras besides a 7kg carry-on allowance. However, Jetstar has the option to add a bundle to your booking (starting at $40), which includes extra checked baggage, standard seat selection, and in-flight food and drink.

Not happy with your standard seat selection? On top of the bundle price, you can pay $12 for an upfront seat for quick exits or $13 for a seat with extra legroom. The bundle also includes a meal, but it can be purchased individually and prices range from $6-15. Currently, in-flight entertainment is only available on Jetstar’s international flights.

Virgin Australia

The second most expensive fare goes to Virgin Australia, which charges $165 plus payment fees for flying from Sydney to Brisbane. This price includes 23kg of checked baggage, as well as food and beverage.

Virgin provides the option to select a standard seat free of charge or an Economy X seat for $35, which gets you extra legroom and preferred overhead lockers. When it comes to food, Virgin offers a complimentary snack with a choice of drink, however they also provide an onboard menu where customers can choose heavier food or drink items and prices range from $3.50-18. Similar to Qantas, Virgin provides in-flight entertainment, however a selection of internet packages is subject to the aircraft.


Tigerair offers the cheapest fare out of the four at $79.95 plus payment fees. Like Jetstar, all extras besides two carry-on items with a combined weight of 7kg can be purchased at an extra cost. Virgin Australia’s subsidiary does not offer bundles, so additional baggage, meals or seat selection must be purchased individually.

When it comes to selecting seats, Tigerair charges $5 for a standard seat, $10 for a seat at the front of the plane, and $16 for a seat with extra legroom. Pre-ordering meals when booking is currently unavailable, but customers can purchase meals during the flight. Wi-fi or in-flight entertainment is not available on Tigerair, so bringing your own entertainment is recommended.

Frequent flyer expert and Point Hacks’ spokesperson, Daniel Sciberras, says: “Deciding whether to go with a full-cost or low-cost comes down to personal preference. When basing it on price, Jetstar and Tigerair work out to be cheaper even with the add-ons, however Qantas and Virgin Australia are known for their superior service and provide in-flight entertainment on most flights. Full-cost carriers also give you peace of mind, especially when travelling with check baggage, as low-cost carriers can charge a hefty cost when you need to add on extras at the airport. If checked baggage, seat selection and meals are the least of your concerns, then Jetstar and Tigerair’s ‘no frills’ flights deliver good value for money to more price-conscious travellers, with their fares costing only half of what the full-service carriers charge.”

Overall cost for each airline for a one-way trip Sydney-Brisbane:

Airline Base fare Baggage allowance Seat selection In-flight catering Total cost (excl. payment fees)
Qantas $185 ·         14kg carry on + 23kg checked baggage

·         $45 per bag in excess

·         Free

·         $25 for extra legroom

Yes $185
Virgin Australia $165 ·         7kg carry on + 23kg checked baggage

·         $39 per bag in excess

·         Free

·         $35 for Economy X

Yes $165
Jetstar $97 ·         7kg carry on + no checked baggage

·         $40 for 20kg (bundle)

·         Free with bundle

·         $7 for standard seat

·         $12 for front seat

·         $13 for extra legroom

·         Yes – with bundle

·         $6-15 per meal

Tigerair $79.95 ·         7kg carry on + no checked baggage

·         $20 for 20kg

·         $5 for standard seat

·         $10 for front seat

·         $16 for extra legroom

No – onboard meals available for a fee[1] $104.95

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