When Alitalia staff are working normally (rather than being on strike), the Italian airline's fares look good value. The New Year promotion is outstanding value, however. The low fares apply for departures until 15 June, with exclusions during school holidays and half-terms. The sale offers flights from Heathrow to Catania at an all-time low of £110 return, but you must change planes at Rome or Milan. If you wish to go no further than these cities, Milan is on sale for £80 return, and Rome for £90. Book on 0870 544 8259 or through by 27 January.


The "web specials" from Swiss provide cheap, short-notice weekend ski trips or city breaks. Each Monday at 11am GMT, the airline posts special offers on its website,, for travel the following weekend. They remain on sale until 11am on Friday. Last week, Basel was on offer from Heathrow for £105 return; this week it is Zurich from Birmingham for £117. Swiss also offers short-notice trips via its hubs in Basel and Zurich to destinations elsewhere in Europe. From Birmingham or Heathrow, you could reach Barcelona for around £140 return, Athens for £155 or Budapest for £170. Destinations change each week, but prices remain fairly constant.


Selling ferry crossings over the Irish Sea in winter, especially midweek, is a tricky business. That is why Stena Line (08705 707070, has cut its five-day return fare from Holyhead to Dublin between now and the end of March. A car plus driver costs £139 return, so long as you travel between Tuesday and Thursday.