The best deals, the latest hot spots and what's new in travel

Nine weeks from today, the main summer holiday season gets under way - but scheduled passengers to Florida's holiday capital could be paying £1,000 return for a basic economy-class seat.

Virgin Atlantic set up the route between Manchester and Orlando 10 years ago. The airline is quoting £970 for departure on 22 July, returning a fortnight later. Even with a discount for children, a family of four could be paying close to £3,500 for the tickets alone.

"This is the busiest time of year and there is huge demand," says Paul Charles, spokesman for Virgin Atlantic. "The early bookers, as always, will get the better price."

On average, fares are 10 per cent higher than at the same time a year ago, which the airlines blame on higher fuel prices. Yet fares from London to Los Angeles, which is two hours' further flying time, are significantly lower.

One effect of the high level of economy fares across the Atlantic is to make the business-class-only airlines look more attractively priced. For the past six months, Eos and MaxJet have flown premium passengers between Stansted and New York JFK, and MaxJet has announced flights to Washington DC. In addition, Silverjet aims to launch a twice-daily service between Luton and Newark New York, using Boeing 767s converted to hold 100 "inclined flat beds". The target fare is around £1,000 return.

THE HYPE surrounding the release of the film version of The Da Vinci Code appears to have forced up fares to the French capital; the opening scenes are set at the Louvre. Another factor may be the newly restored Orangerie, where Monet's works are shown in the manner that the artist intended. As a result, finding a weekend day-trip for less than £100 is difficult.

This week The Independent Traveller found that for a day trip on 3 June the lowest Eurostar fare was £129 return. British Airways is charging £217 return from Birmingham; Air France's fare is £495. From Heathrow, BA's fare is £112; Air France charges £186.

Among the low-cost airlines, easyJet quotes £101 return from Luton and £160 from Liverpool; from Bristol, Flybe's best fare to Paris is £418.

All these fares are likely to increase as the departure date approaches.