Being "seniors", most of our travel is planned some time in advance. However, sometimes events arise that require plans to be made at short notice, such as travelling to Canberra for a funeral.
Of course, the only fares on both Qantas and Virgin at our preferred travel time were significantly more costly than the cheapest fares available at other times (including later in the day on which we wished to travel ... but we didn't have the necessary flexibility). Such is the price of booking close to the date of travel and not having a great deal of flexibility.
Even so, for a single booking at our preferred time, the fare shown was what might be regarded as a "intermediate" amount, so things could have been worse. But, when I tried to book for 4.....a higher figure was shown!
Hmmm. I revised the booking down to 2 people, and, yes, the lesser (intermediate) fare was available. It seems that if a booking is for a number of seats that exceeds the number available at the cheaper figure, then the whole booking will be processed at the higher cost (I've encountered this before). In our case, the 2 remaining family members travelled instead on Virgin, which fortunately operated a nearly parallel flight (at a nearly parallel cost).
Happily, there seemed to be plenty of accommodation available in Canberra for our night there, and we got a good rate for this. And car hire rates at the weekend in Canberra seem to be a lot cheaper than during the week. There were certainly a lot of unused cars in the hire car carpark.
But how to avoid the credit card fees charged by the airlines? Virgin allow you to do a direct debit (via Poli)...there are a few steps, but it's not hard. But with Qantas, it's much more restrictive. Within 7 days of travel, Qantas don't allow the use of BPay. You can only use a Visa or MasterCard debit card, which I don't have (although I'm thinking about getting one), and even that costs $2.50
per passenger. Use of a credit card attracts a surcharge of $7.00 for each passenger.
How Qantas justify their $7.00 surcharge in light of the RBA Guideline eludes me, but perhaps this is an issue for another time.