It's getting more expensive to chase frequent flyer status in Australia

Ryan Pierse/GettyImages

Domestic airfares in Australia are falling again, according to new analysis from Commsec.

But if you’re chasing frequent-flyer status, it’s likely that you’re paying more.

Using data provided by Australia’s Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics (BITRE) today, Commsec found that discount economy fares fell by a massive 8.8% in August, the third month in row that a decline had been reported.

In smoothed terms, that left discount fares down 5.6% on the levels of a year earlier, the steepest drop in the 17 months.

For those flying with Qantas, discount economy fares include “Red e-Deal” or “Super Saver” fares. For Virgin Australia passengers this includes “Getaway” fares. For other airlines please find further details here.

Source: Commsec

“The bargains are back for domestic airfares,” said Craig James, chief economist at Commsec.

“Discount airfares have fallen for the past three months, sliding 16% over that period.

“Discount airfares are not just lower than a year ago, but in inflation-adjusted terms are near the lowest levels on record,” he added.

However, if you’re trying to boost you frequent-flyer status by purchasing restricted economy fares, the news was nowhere near as good for travellers.

Unlike discount fares, they actually increased by 1.6% after a 1.9% lift in July, leaving them up 5.4% on a year earlier in smoothed terms, the largest rise in 20 months.

So to retain the privileges associated with being a frequent flyer, travellers are having to fork out more to do so in the middle of 2017.

Restricted economy fares are “Flex” for Qantas customers and “Freedom” fares flying with Virgin Australia.

For those lucky enough to fly at the pointy-end of the plane, business class fares also increased over the year, albeit by a far smaller amount.

Commsec said they fell 2.3% in August, seeing annual growth in smoothed terms slow to 1.2%, the weakest level in four years.

In order to construct the survey, the BITRE takes the lowest available fare in each fare class, weighted over selected routes, on the last Thursday of every month.

NOW WATCH: Executive Life videos

Business Insider Emails & Alerts

Site highlights each day to your inbox.

Follow Business Insider Australia on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.