The longer that England’s remarkable progress in the World Cup - and the heatwave - continue, the more miserable the travel industry is becoming. In a desperate bid to get passengers on board, airlines and holiday companies are slashing prices for departures in the coming week.
Our travel editor Simon Calder has been tracking prices - and can also offer a tip or two when it comes to grabbing a bargain!
WHAT HAS CAUSED THESE CHEAP DEALS?
Simon's always on the lookout for a bargain and the World Cup is helping to provide them: “Normally when July begins, the holiday firms know they can sell almost everything at good prices. For tour operators and travel agents the first six months of the year were pretty good. But since late June sales have slumped - with a double-digit drop since the team qualified for the semi-final - aided by the heatwave. Because there are hundreds of thousands of unsold holidays still available, package prices and air fares are tumbling.”
WHAT ARE THE BEST DEALS ON THE MARKET
At the moment you can jet off into the sunshine for the price of a train ticket: "Prices you would normally only see as last-minute deals in mid-October are appearing at the moment. For a time on Saturday TUI, Britain's biggest holiday company, was selling package holidays to Turkey, departing from Manchester on Tuesday, for less than the price of a train ticket to Torquay: £117. That was understandably snapped up during the afternoon, but similar deals continue through the coming week. Thomas Cook is selling a week on the Greek island of Zante, departing from Birmingham on Thursday, for £222.”
WHAT ABOUT DIY HOLIDAYS?
You don't have to resort to package holidays, you can still go down the DIY route: "In parallel with the holiday price slumps, there are plenty of cheap flights at levels that were probably last seen for July around 1966. Plenty of people have just touched down in in Mallorca from Gatwick for £49, including a return flight a week today. For traveller who prefer the mountains in summer, Ryanair has been offering return flights from Stansted to Grenoble on the same dates for £37."
WHAT ABOUT DEALS FURTHER AFIELD?
You can bag yourself a bargain to get to the other side of the world too: "TUI selling a week's fly-drive in Florida for an almost unprecedented £507, based on two people travelling together and staying in self-catering accommodation, flying from Manchester on Tuesday. Even from Scotland, where the schools have broken up, there are good deals to Orlando. And if the heat is proving too much and you'd rather swap it for midwinter in Australia, there are plenty of seats to Sydney for under £1,000 return."
WHEN WILL THESE DEALS END?
These bargains might last a longer than you might expect: "Once the final whistle blows in Moscow on 15 July, prices will start rise and the holiday companies will breathe a sigh of relief. But with sales below trend, there could be some bargains continuing into August."
WHAT IF I WANTED TO GET TO RUSSIA FOR THE FINAL?
There's still time to grab some of that World Cup fever: "England are guaranteed to be playing in Russia next weekend. My tip, having seen Croatia play earlier in the tournament, is to book a flight to Helsinki - you can see the 3rd place final in St Petersburg on Saturday, and continue on to Moscow for the final on Sunday."
Thomas Cook has a week’s self-catering from Bristol to the Greek island of Zante, leaving on Monday 16 July for just £221 per person.
TUI is selling a week to the same island, departing from Luton next Tuesday, 17 July, for £289. And that’s for a proper three-star beach hotel, with breakfast.
In parallel with the holiday price slumps, there are plenty of cheap flights at the sorts of levels last seen in high summer in 1966. There are plenty of seats from Newcastle to Palma de Mallorca for £46 leaving tomorrow, including a return flight a week later, on Ryanair. For the same dates, TUI has a flight-only deal under £50 from Bournemouth to Mallorca.
For travellers who prefer the mountains in summer, Ryanair has a week’s round trip from Stansted to Grenoble next Wednesday for £46 return.
Further afield, TUI selling a week’s fly-drive in Florida for an almost unprecedented £507, based on two people travelling together and staying in self-catering accommodation, flying from Birmingham to Orlando (on a Boeing 787 Dreamliner) on Thursday.
And if you want to take the really long haul to Australia, there are plenty of seats from Heathrow to Sydney tonight or tomorrow for around £1,000 return.
Cruise lines are even keener than the rest of the travel industry to fill all available capacity. For departure from Southampton on Sunday 22 July, the starting weekend of the school holidays for many families in England, P&O Cruises is selling a week’s cruise to the marvellous Norwegian fjords aboard Britannia for £849 - including all meals. Just don’t mention how little you paid to people who booked much earlier at normal summer prices.