Holidaymakers looking to rent a car are being hit with massively inflated prices during the school holidays, a consumer watchdog has warned.
According to research conducted by Which?, Car hire prices in both Europe and the United States went up as much as 176 per cent between June and the main UK school summer holiday period in August.
Prices for package holidays themselves also shot up by around 30 per cent during the final weeks of school term time in the summer.
The news is unlikely to sit well with parents, who are being increasingly penalised – sometimes with legal action – for taking their children on holiday during term times.
Under new rules – which are currently being debated in the House of Commons – parents face a fine of £60 per child for each unauthorised absence.
Which? found that the biggest price rises occurred at Barcelona airport. A fifty-year-old driver would have been charged £50 per week to rent a small car in June. Come August, that price had risen to £138. Travellers landing at Malaga airport fared little better, with prices rising 152 per cent from £49 to £123 over the same period.
Prices fluctuated less severely in the USA, where car hire remains more expensive year round. However, prices at hire desks at New York airports rose by around six per cent, regardless of vehicle type, during the June-August holidays.
Factoring in all of the different price inflations – something Which? claims could add as much as 30 per cent onto the total cost of a family break for four – parents may find it cheaper to accept a fine from schools and simply take their kids on holiday during term time.
A Which? spokesman said: “ If you do have to go away during the school holidays, try to reduce the cost by flying midweek rather than at weekends. We found Tuesday is the cheapest day to fly.
“Don’t be afraid to bargain with travel agents.”
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