Business travellers booking flights in the busy high season in late December and early January will often see extra flights and larger planse on airline's Christmas and New Year schedules.
As with any busy time of year, there are upsides and downsides to travelling during the holiday period, but there are a few sneaky airline tricks -- and nifty traveller hacks -- to watch out for, so it's time for the annual Australian Business Traveller advice for travelling on business at this time of year.
The upside: get home faster or plan a secret Santa stopover
Extra holiday flights and larger planes can mean that your usual business travel route can become more convenient.
When airlines use larger planes, there's often more last-minute space too -- especially in business class meaning that you have the option of faster and more convenient routings for your last-minute trip and can avoid flying out of your way simply because there are no seats left on the best flights.
When there are extra flights, you may be able to shave hours off your total journey time by taking a later flight or making an earlier connection.
(Alternatively, you might be able to cram in a secret shopping trip in layover shopping paradises like Singapore or Dubai -- tax free if you claim back the local equivalent of GST!)
So even if you fly a route frequently and have a usual preferred flight, take an extra look at the flight options you're presented with when booking.
The downside: wait, where's that flat bed gone?
In addition to more expensive fares you already know about, certain airlines use their higher-density -- and less comfortable -- regional configuration planes instead of the usual long-haul layouts. For them, it means they can cram more people in for the same (or even higher) fares.
But for you, it means the business class flat-bed you paid top dollar for might be quietly swapped for a 1980s-style recliner that isn't worth half the price.
If it's a late change, your carefully picked seat reservation might also disappear, so make sure you keep an eye out for email from the airline.
But the airline is technically under no obligation to tell you about what would be a bait and switch in any other industry. However, you might have a leg to stand on if you feel that the airline has misrepresented what you've been sold.
At the very least, you should receive some frequent flyer points if you've been particularly hard done by. You could reasonably ask for around half the points needed to upgrade to business class if your business seat was really dreadful.
Our advice: check the type of plane scheduled for your flight. Read emails from the airline carefully, especially the ones that have to do with flight timings. You should be able to change your flight without penalty if the schedule shifts significantly.
And if you were expecting a flat bed and you ended up with something worse, complain politely to the head crew person on board (Purser, Inflight Supervisor, etc) asking them to pass on your complaint and write a sternly worded email to the airline following it up.
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