TOURISM MATTERS: Making most of holiday prices
FOR AS LONG as I can remember, it has been one of the most contentious laws in the United Kingdom (UK) for many years. Until a landmark court ruling last week, local education authorities had the right to charge and judges or magistrates enforce fines on parents who took their children on holidays outside of recognised school holidays.
The reasons parents do this are obvious. Often prices for an almost identical holiday can cost double what they are when taken during school term times. Like most commodities, the travel industry is market driven with the same sort of supply and demand concept that applies to most products, but there is perhaps a stronger fundamental moral dilemma facing mothers and fathers wishing to give their children the best possible holiday experience at an affordable price.
In this particular case, judges ruled that a council could not legally enforce the fine imposed on 44-year-old father, Jon Platt, for taking his daughter on holiday during term time. As a result, the British government announced that it is considering making alterations to the law.
Flight search website, Cheapflights, said: “Families could save up to 45 per cent travelling during term-time” citing the example of a return flight from the UK to Lanzarote in September for £204 compared to £374 in August.
Their managing director Andrew Shelton stated: “Hopefully this ruling will lead to some relaxation of the rules to flatten out those peak demand periods, giving everyone the chance to enjoy the benefits of a family getaway”. He added that “for those who don’t want to take their kids out of school for holidays they could save money by booking flights at the right time”.
“Tuesdays are the cheapest days to book and generally the best fares are advertised about 50 days ahead of departure with the most expensive being three days before travel”.
Logically, Friday is consistently the most expensive day to fly because of the increased demand for those trying to get away for the weekend. Barbados and the Caribbean generally are not immune from what many consider opportunistic price gouging. Officially, school holidays will take place between July 19 and August 31 this year in the UK with some regional differences.
Putting this into practice and looking online for the lowest price economy flights from Gatwick to Barbados and if you fly London/Barbados on July 6 and return on July 20 the ticket is £566 with Virgin Atlantic and £783 with British Airways (BA).
Move those dates to flying out on July 20 and back on August 4 and the identical fare jumps to £1 327 with Virgin and £1 634 with BA. Again comparing like-for-like flights Gatwick/Barbados on August 16 returning August 30 are £1 107 with Virgin and £1 293 with BA.
Of course, it does not just end with the airline portion. Often tour operators and individual accommodation providers adjust their prices accordingly to the extent a family of four could well be spending thousands more for an indistinguishable holiday, but travelling on different dates.
Probably the recent court ruling will not significantly affect bookings and occupancy periods this year, but for sure, there will be some contract negotiating and adjustments for summer 2017 taking place soon.
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