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Airline showdown: budget or all-inclusive?

Flight experts compared the four big Australian airlines on cost, baggage and food. Find out which one came out on top. 

We’ve all looked at a flight sale and done a double take. Surely it can’t be that cheap?

It’s a question that has been dabbled with by luxury and budget flyers alike.

Are low-cost flights really worth it?

Now Independent frequent flyers community Point Hacks have come to the rescue.

Australia’s most prominent airlines were put to the test in the ultimate showdown. Points Hacks compared the price of one-way flights between Sydney and Brisbane on Qantas, Virgin, Jetstar and Tigerair. In addition to the ticket price, Points Hacks looked at the Australian airlines based on a 20kg baggage requirement, in-flight catering, seat selection, in-flight entertainment and WiFi. 

So how did the domestic Australian airlines stack up?


Qantas was the most expensive of the Australian airlines ($185 plus additional fees), but the ticket included all the extras.

Australian airlines Qantas

Qantas Australia

The luggage allowance was 23kg & 14kg of carry-on, as well as included meals, drinks, seat selection and entertainment.

Australian airlines welcome drinks

The welcome drink on board Qantas Australia

WiFi isn’t always available with Qantas, but in-flight entertainment is.


The cost of the Jetstar ticket was $97, plus extra fees.

Australian airlines Jetstar

Onboard Jetstar Australia

It included none of the add ons, which means sticking to a 7kg carry-on. You can, however, add a $40 bundle with checked baggage, seat selection and drinks.

The bundle also includes a meal, but it can be purchased individually and prices range from $6-15. You can check out the menu here.

In-flight entertainment is only available on international flights.


Virgin is a close second on price. Their flight costs $165 fare, plus extra fees. The ticket includes meals, drinks, seat selection and 23kg of baggage.

Australian airlines

Virgin Australia

Virgin offers a complimentary snack and choice of drink, as well as an onboard menu with prices ranging from $3.50- $19. You can find the menu here.

Virgin Australia | Australian airlines

Inside Virgin’s Boeing 737-800 economy class cabin on flight Sydney to Brisbane.

WiFi isn’t always available onboard, but in-flight entertainment is.


Our most affordable of the Australian airlines is Tigerair, with an airfare of $79.95 plus extra fees.

Australian airlines Tiger Airways

Tiger Airways is the cheapest Australian airline

The flight includes 7kg of hand luggage, all extras can be purchased for an additional cost. Tiger does not have Wi-Fi or in-flight entertainment.

Summary: Australian airlines compared


Base fare: $185
Baggage allowance: 14kg carry on + 23kg checked  baggage, $45 per bag in excess
Seat selection: Yes
In-flight catering: Yes
Total cost (excl. payment fees): $185

Virgin Australia

Base fare: $165
Baggage allowance: 7kg carry on + 23kg checked  baggage, $39 per bag in excess
Seat selection: Free, $35 for Economy X
In-flight catering: Yes
Total cost (excl. payment fees): $165


Base fare: $97
Baggage allowance: 7kg carry on + no checked  baggage, $40 for 20kg (bundle)
Seat selection: Free with bundle, $7 for standard seat, $12 for front seat, $13 for extra legroom
In-flight catering:  Yes – with a bundle, $6-15 per meal
Total cost (excl. payment fees) $137

Tiger Airways

Base fare: $79.95
Baggage allowance: 7kg carry on + no checked baggage, $20 for 20kg
Seat selection: $5 for standard seat, $10 for front seat, $16 for extra legroom
In-flight catering:No – onboard meals  available for a  fee
Total cost (excl. payment fees): $104.95

Australian airlines

Which Australian airline is right for you?

So which one should you pick?

 “Deciding whether to go with a full-cost or low-cost comes down to personal preference,” Frequent flyer expert and Point Hacks’ spokesperson, Daniel Sciberras, says.

“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.”

Read more: 

Experts say you should never do this on a flight

What people really want on long-haul flights

In-flight hacks for more economy class comfort

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