Neil Simpson takes an in-depth look at free travel for children (stock image)
Every week, our Holiday Hero Neil Simpson takes an in-depth look at a brilliant holiday topic, doing all the legwork so you don’t have to. This week: free travel for children.
Currency woes and fears of a winter wave of flight, fuel and even hotel supplements are set to make travel bargains thin on the ground for the foreseeable future. But if you book clever, it’s still possible to save by grabbing decent ‘kids go free’ deals. There are three basic types to aim for.
The ‘go free’ deals
These are the best because they include every aspect of a holiday. With package firms such as Thomas Cook, TUI and Jet2, selected deals give children aged 12 or under a seat on the plane and on the hotel transfer, plus a bed in their parents’ room and, in most cases, the same meal plan as the adults.
There are ‘Free Kids’ Place Finder’ tools on each firm’s website and there is still limited availability for winter- sun deals. With TUI, two adults can get an October week at the SplashWorld Resort in Kolymbari, Greece, for £457 each – with a free kid’s place. Looking ahead, booking has just opened for summer 2020 when there’s far more choice of special deals.
With Thomas Cook, two adults and a child can get an all-inclusive week next June including flights, transfers and kids’ clubs at the Sunwing Cala Bona hotel in Majorca for £2,104.
The ‘stay free’ deals
Hotel groups such as Novotel and Hilton are good bets for families. With the former, rooms are designed to accommodate two adults and two under-16s, with no extra cost for the youngsters and breakfast for all four of you. At some of the group’s hotels, you get a 50 per cent discount if you book a second room for the children. With Hilton, the cut-off age for free stays is lower: children have to be 12 or under. If they are five or under, they get free lunch and dinner when you all eat in the hotel.
You needn’t sacrifice style in search of a family holiday bargain. Luxury holiday specialist prestigeholidays.co.uk has a collection of hotels with free children’s places. Top choices include the beachside Anassa Hotel in Cyprus, where under-14s stay and eat free. Or get close to nature at home. Stay on selected Caravan and Motorhome Club sites and under-fives stay free and five-to-17-year-olds pay just £1 a night.
The ‘fly free’ deals
With all airlines, under-16s avoid Air Passenger Duty, knocking £78 off a flight to Florida – but only in economy (stock image)
This sounds generous, especially for expensive, long-haul flights. But there’s a lot of small print. Airline policies vary, but in general travellers are treated as infants if up to 24 months old, children if two to 11 years, or young adults if aged 12 to 16. Fares rise accordingly, and even the youngest fliers normally have to pay.
Take a baby in your lap on easyJet and you pay £25 each way, or ten per cent of the adult fare with Virgin Atlantic.
With all airlines, under-16s avoid Air Passenger Duty, knocking £78 off a flight to Florida – but only in economy. Children who fly in business or first class pay tax in full.
And watch out if your child has a birthday on holiday, as the age for discounts is almost always the age on the return flight. British Airways is one of the few to relax the rule, with kids who have their second birthday on holiday still flying home on the infant rate.