<p>British Airways and Virgin Atlantic are charging a premium </p>

British Airways and Virgin Atlantic are charging a premium

Christmas air fares soar as airlines charge thousands for flights

Lowest prices on some Heathrow to US flights in economy now over £2,300 – but much cheaper for 25 December departures

Simon Calder
Travel Correspondent
Friday 19 November 2021 11:27

Airlines are cashing in on strong demand for Christmas and New Year escapes, raising prices to well above usual levels.

Between London Heathrow and Barbados, the cheapest British Airways flight on Wednesday 22 December with a return two weeks later is currently priced at £2,001 – with cabin baggage only on the outbound flight.

Virgin Atlantic has flights on the same route for £1,374 on the same dates, with a maximum of 10kg of cabin baggage.

To Cape Town – the most popular destination in South Africa, which was on the UK’s “red list” for almost a year – economy and premium economy seats are unavailable on BA flights for return journeys on New Year’s Day and 2 January.

With an outbound flight on Saturday 18 December and a business-class return on 1 January, British Airways has one seat remaining at a lowest return fare on either of the two daily departures of £4,800.

US carriers are commanding extremely high fares across the Atlantic. The Independent looked at flights departing from the UK on Sunday 19 December, returning on 2 January.

The lowest fare on American Airlines between Heathrow and Miami is £2,653.

Delta’s cheapest Heathrow-New York JFK return on those dates is £2,320. Passengers travelling out on Christmas Day, returning on New Year’s Eve, can get a fare of just £467.

On its nonstop flights between Heathrow and San Francisco, United has one seat left at a fare of £1,471 return. Exactly a month later, the same journey costs as little as £399.

Closer to home, easyJet’s Christmas Eve flight from Manchester to Tenerife, returning on 5 January, is currently selling at £758 return – excluding baggage.

For a short break over Christmas to the Canaries, Ryanair has a Birmingham-Gran Canaria return for £110, travelling out on 24 December and back three days later.

On Jet2 from Leeds Bradford to Faro in Portugal, the outbound journey on 23 December is £136, but the cheapest of three return flights on 2, 3 or 4 January is £290.

Outbound flights on the route on those dates are available at a flat £29.

Ski flights are in demand too. On 22 December, business class is sold out on one of the three British Airways departures from Heathrow to Geneva, the main airport for the French Alps. For a flight out on that date, returning on 3 January, the lowest fare with hand baggage only is £640.

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