Q. Last August I booked a flight from Gatwick to Lanzarote for November 2012 and paid £160 return. Looking at booking well ahead for November 2013, I was staggered to see that the price had gone up 73 per cent to £277! All airlines I checked seemed to have hiked their prices this year - are they in collusion?
A. The bosses of Monarch, Thomas Cook Airlines and Thomson Airways will be wryly amused by your question. The main carriers that connect the UK with the Canary Islands are just as fiercely competitive to Lanzarote as they are for many other desirable destinations. That is why Britain, and specifically London, is the best place in northern Europe to begin a journey to many Spanish locations.
November is a splendid month to claim a reviving burst of sunshine, still-warm sea and relaxation in one of the finest Spanish islands. Lanzarote has a winning combination of great beaches, weird volcanic scenery and architectural flourishes by Cesar Manrique.
More pragmatically, November is the cheapest month of the year in which to travel, with no school holidays intruding to push up prices.
I expected to find return fares in the £150-£200 range, and without any trouble I found plenty of availability on Monarch at around £170 or £180. Fares on Thomas Cook and Thomson were typically £100 higher – but frankly only someone desperate to lock in to specific dates would pay nearly £300 for a return flight. The two holiday companies may sell a few at that sort of price, but in fact their focus is on using most of the capacity to sell inclusive packages. With almost a year to go, they can both be relaxed about the level of bookings, knowing that there will be a surge of interest come September when everyone finishes their summer holiday and seeks a winter break. By the start of October, you can expect much keener prices from both – and with a few days to go, prices for complete packages will probably fall to £200 or lower.
I can imagine your impatience to get a holiday booked, but please relax. I have been lucky enough to fly to the Canaries, including Lanzarote, many times in November, and none of those has been on a full aircraft. So even the day before, you can expect to get a good deal.
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