I am looking to book flights to the US next June. The British bank holidays are significantly cheaper. Is this a good thing or is it because the airlines expect there to be disruption to travel? Michelle Morris, Blackpool
This year, the royal wedding bestowed us with an extra public holiday; next June, Britain gets a bank holiday bonus to commemorate 60 years of Queen Elizabeth II's reign. The first weekend of June is to be extended to four days, with the normal spring bank holiday moved to Monday 4 June and the following day designated the Queen's diamond jubilee holiday.
Already some short-haul air fares have risen as travellers seek to fly away for a long weekend. But fares on the bank holidays themselves, particularly outbound on the Monday, are likely to be lower because of soft demand.
Going west across the Atlantic, demand for flights on Mondays is usually high due to business travellers starting trips. Assuming most of them are taking a couple of days off, airlines will need to keep fares low in order to fill seats. The current fare levels for non-stop flights from Manchester and London to New York are around £450 return, which is likely to remain fairly constant for the next few months.
Regarding the risk of disruption: at this stage there is no reason to imagine that the long holiday weekend will be any more susceptible than any other time. As recent experience has shown, anything from Icelandic volcanoes to Caribbean storms can ground flights; some British holidaymakers are still stuck in New York after dozens of flights were cancelled last weekend after Hurricane Irene.
To limit your financial exposure in the event of disruption, book with an EU-based airline such as British Airways or Virgin Atlantic. They have an unlimited duty of care to delayed passengers; non-European airlines do not.