PRICES SOAR FOR HALF-TERM SKI FLIGHTS
24th January 2019 | Jane Peel, Chief Reporter
Last modified on January 13th, 2020
£1,500 for a return flight from the UK to Austria during the February half-term. Prices are getting absurd. PlanetSKI reports.
A return flight from London to Innsbruck, travelling on 16th February and returning on 23rd February, costs a cool £1,522 per person.
Others over the period are more than £1,000.
The cost of going on a ski holiday in the most expensive week of the year seems to be getting more and more expensive.
February half-term is the most popular time to hit the slopes in Europe.
The school break is just a week long and around 95% of the country’s school pupils will be off at the same time, meaning everyone will want to travel on the same few dates.
The principle of supply of demand has always pushed up prices.
But is this year worse than usual?
Fraser Wilkin, Managing Director of Snow-Wise, has been putting together tailor-made ski holidays to the Alps for more than 20 years.
He says he’s found flight prices that are ‘increasingly outrageous’.
And he says that in recent years he’s noticed a disproportionate increase at peak times, particularly at half-term.
Earlier this week he alerted us to these examples:
Gatwick to Geneva
A one-way Easyjet flight from Gatwick to Geneva, leaving at 8.10am on Saturday 16th February was £759 without luggage.
Adding an item of hold luggage and a return a week later at a sensible time of day and the total came in at more than £1,300 per person.
Gatwick to Innsbruck
A return flight, travelling on 16th and returning on 23rd costing £1,522 per person.
Snow-Wise have been working to find ways to keep the costs down for their customers.
“Snow-Wise have access to the whole range of flights between the UK and the Alps, so can often find cheaper ways to access the major resorts on peak dates,” Fraser tells us.
“We can’t promise it will be cheap, but we can often find ways to avoid the really crazy half-term prices by targeting airports that might not be on everyone’s radar (excuse the pun) such as Basel, Munich and Milan.”
Some cheaper (but not cheap) flights are available if you’re prepared to fly at inhospitable times.
Very early morning flights or those landing late at night generally cost less.
According to a new survey of 1,600 UK travellers by Travelzoo, more than half would sacrifice convenient travel times in order to save money.
But that’s not necessarily ideal if you have a young family in tow.
If you opt for Sunday to Sunday travel it will be cheaper than Saturday to Saturday.
PlanetSKI did a quick search earlier this week for flights from London airports and found a few cheaper than those mentioned above but nothing you could call a bargain.
All prices quoted include one item of hold baggage.
Easyjet, Luton to Innsbruck return, travelling out on Sunday 17th February:
But opt for Saturday travel from Gatwick and the cost is more than £500 each way:
And this was the cheapest available on British Airways for travel out from Heathrow to Geneva on Saturday 16th:
So how can you keep the cost down if you want a last-minute DIY ski trip this half-term?
As Fraser mentioned, you could try the less obvious air routes for slightly less expensive trips.
You could drive, which is likely to be cost effective if you’re a family, though you might have to travel overnight to avoid traffic jams getting to your resort.
You could head to eastern Europe.
The low-cost airline WizzAir quoted us £453.78 for return flights between Luton and Poprad-Tatry with 20kg of hold luggage, travelling out on Saturday 16th February.
Poprad is very close to Jasna in Slovakia, which also has the advantage of being much cheaper than the Alps and, in our view, offers some decent skiing.
You could even head over to Colorado where the snow is incredible at the moment.
Surprisingly, we found return flights to Denver that were cheaper than those to Geneva on the same dates, with outbound travel on 16th February.
Norwegian Airlines quoted £639.80 for a Gatwick-Denver return while Swiss Air quoted £665.34 for a Heathrow-Geneva return, both with one piece of checked baggage.
But there are downsides to heading over the Atlantic for a 7-day holiday.
The flight takes 9 to 10 hours.
You’ll probably just about be getting used to the jet lag when it’s time to come home.
And other costs in the USA – such as lift passes – are high.
If you’re still looking and hoping, keep a close eye on the airlines’ websites.
When we checked prices for Swiss to Geneva a couple of days after our first look, we found the cost had gone down by almost £100.
The prices are for a late flight out, arriving in Geneva at 2205hrs and an early one back, departing Geneva at 0715hrs: