If you’ve ever searched for flights on the Qantas website, you’ve probably noticed that flights on Qantas’ wholly-owned low-cost subsidiary, Jetstar, also appear in the results. Perhaps you’ve even been tempted to book a Jetstar flight that you found on the Qantas website. But this is often a rip-off, and you could be paying a lot more to get less!
In fact, some Jetstar flights cost more than three times the price when booked on the Qantas website, compared to Jetstar’s own website! This is particularly the case when booking Jetstar Max fares, which are significantly more expensive on Qantas.com.
For example, Jetstar flights from Melbourne to Sydney on many dates (such as 2 March 2021, which is shown below) cost $131 on the Qantas website for a Starter fare or $453 for a more flexible Max fare.
If we take JQ528 (the 8.55am departure) as an example, the same flight can be purchased directly on the Jetstar website for just $39.
Now, the $39 Jetstar flight does not include checked luggage. The $131 ticket on the Qantas website does include a 20kg checked bag.
But it only costs $23 to add a 20kg bag when booking on the Jetstar website. That brings the total price to $62, which is still less than half the price on the Qantas website.
If you were to book on the Jetstar website, you could alternatively pay $45 on top of the $39 fare ($84 in total) to add a Plus Bundle which includes 20kg baggage, as well as Qantas points & status credits, seat selection and a meal voucher – which aren’t included with the ticket sold by Qantas.
But the most outrageous price discrepancy is with the Max fare. On the Qantas website, you’d be paying $453 for a Jetstar Max ticket from Melbourne to Sydney. But you could book an identical Jetstar Max fare – with the same inclusions – for a total of $124 on the Jetstar website. (That’s $39 for the base fare, plus $85 for a Max Bundle.)
That’s less than the cost of a Starter fare on the Qantas website, and less than a third of the price of a Jetstar Max fare on the Qantas website.
This phenomenon can be replicated on many other routes. For example, a Jetstar Max fare from Brisbane to Cairns costs $427 on most dates on the Qantas website.
But we’ve found Jetstar flights on the same date and route, with a Max Bundle included, for as low as $172 on the Jetstar website.
Why is there a price discrepancy?
Although Jetstar is 100% owned by Qantas, they use different reservation systems. There is no direct link between Qantas, which uses Amadeus, and Jetstar’s more basic Navitaire booking system. AFF member henrus explains…
Qantas doesn’t have a direct link to Jetstar’s booking system and instead books it like a normal travel agent. In the process, Qantas literally books via the GDS and because Jetstar only releases a limited number of tickets via the GDS in a small number of fare classes and overpriced fares, this is all Qantas has access to.
– henrus, 14 February 2021
Furthermore, Jetstar told us that its regular sale fares are exclusive to jetstar.com and are not available via third party channels, which includes travel agents and partner airlines.
When booking on the Qantas website, the ticket will be issued on Qantas stock and be subject to Qantas’ terms & conditions. Theoretically, this would also mean that you’d need to contact Qantas – not Jetstar – in the case of any changes or cancellations to the Jetstar flight. (If you have Qantas Platinum or Platinum One status, that could be useful as you might be able to reach the Qantas contact centre a lot quicker. If not, it probably wouldn’t make much difference – and in fact, some AFF members report that Jetstar has been quicker to refund cancelled tickets than Qantas.)
When booking through Qantas, you may also be covered by Qantas’ more generous COVID-19 change policy.
Jetstar said that its website “is designed to provide choice and flexible booking options for customers wanting a basic starter fare, as well as those wanting to add products (bags, food, seat selection, added flexibility) or bundles”.
On the other hand, Jetstar Starter fares purchased on the Qantas website automatically include checked baggage. Although, as we’ve seen, the price difference can still be enormous even after accounting for such inclusions.
If you wanted to pay with a Qantas voucher or combine Qantas & Jetstar flights on a single ticket, booking on the Qantas website could still make sense. But if you’re booking a Jetstar flight, you should also check the price of booking direct with Jetstar – which in most cases is cheaper.
Join the discussion on the Australian Frequent Flyer forum: Price difference booking Jetstar flights on Qantas website