Travel: Departures: Doubtful savings

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The Independent Travel
ANYONE tempted by the present frenzy of price-cutting on summer '95 holidays should study the small print. The headline figure from the big retail agents is 15 per cent off. However, this applies only if you buy insurance through the agent, which costs rather more than you might expect. For two weeks in Europe, for example, the premium is pounds 29.95 per person when you book through Lunn Poly, Going Places, Thomas Cook or Co-op Travelcare. The commission that the travel agents make enables them to offer the discount on holiday packages.

Thomas Cook and Going Places do not allow the full 15 per cent discount on every tour company; most notably, they give only a 5 per cent discount on holidays by Thomson, the biggest tour operator. Lunn Poly gives 15 per cent off every holiday from any of the 352 tour operators it sells. Co-op Travelcare extends its discount to cover charter flights. The Co-op gives pounds 15 off in every pounds 100 on any operator's holidays, but the discount applies only to whole units of pounds 100. So a holiday costing pounds 299 earns a discount of pounds 30, while one costing pounds 301 gets pounds 45 off.

All the big agents have 'low- deposit' schemes. The Co-op's is best: no payment is required until March; its competitors insist on a pound or a fiver upfront.

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