Airlines cut price of holiday journeys

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FOR THOSE who are already sick at the thought of spending the next few days with their in-laws, or who simply can't face the Brussels sprouts, there is a way out.

Airlines and travel agents have failed to sell many of their much-hyped and expensive millennium holidays, and are offering flights to exotic climes for "absurd" prices. Anyone prepared to leave on Christmas Day and return on New Year's Day can fly to Brazil for pounds 177 including tax. Flights to New York, leaving on 31 December and returning on 3 January, were priced as low as pounds 105.

Tim Murray-Walker, of Journey Latin America, said seats on planes on those dates were traditionally harder to fill and British Airways, which is offering the flights to Brazil, obviously wanted to try to fill the planes rather than fly half empty. "It would normally be around pounds 900 to fly to Rio for the new year. Now the airlines have realised that people are staying at home, they have brought the prices right down," he said.

But, be warned - these deals do not include accommodation and it may be hard to find hotels at such short notice, Mr Murray-Walker said. "Some people are flying out to Rio on 30 December and are not even going to try to get a hotel. It's just a case of get off the plane and party until it's time to fly back."