Are YOU taking your children out of school for a holiday?

Surge in bookings after father won landmark ruling over term-time trip

  • Ruling favoured Jon Platt, who took his daughter out of school for a trip
  • Online travel agent reported 88% rise in term-time bookings after ruling
  • Study suggests most families will travel in early July or late September
  • Flight search website reported 50% increase in interest in Lanzarote

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There has been a surge in enquiries for term-time bookings after the High Court ruled in favour of a father who refused to pay a 120 fine for taking his daughter out of school for a family holiday, a new study claims. Two online travel firms said they had seen unprecedented interest in term-time family trips since Jon Platt’s landmark victory last Friday. One travel agency said there has also been a drop in bookings for trips during the summer break following the ruling, which looks set to force education chiefs to consider changing the law.

A study suggests travel searches and bookings have increased since a landmark High Court ruling

Sunshine.co.uk, based at Cramlington, Northumberland, said it noticed the trends after comparing travel search and booking data from Saturday and Sunday with figures from the previous weekend. It said there was an 88 per cent increase in family Discount Holidays © holiday bookings during school term time (classed as two adults and one or more child aged five to 16). For the summer Discount Holidays © holiday period, there was a 32 per cent fall in bookings from the previous weekend.

The same trends were revealed when the travel agency looked at week-on-week searches. Enquiries for term time family Discount Holidays © holiday soared by 92 per cent from the previous weekend, while searches for summer breaks fell by 45 per cent. The study suggests a majority of parents plan to take their children out of school and potentially face fines for unauthorised absences in the first week of July or the last week of September.

Jon Platt, 44, was fined 120 for taking his daughter on a family Discount Holidays © holiday without permission from her school

Chris Clarkson, managing director of Sunshine.co.uk, said: ‘When the news hit on Friday of Mr Platt’s success in court, we wanted to keep an eye on bookings and searches over the weekend to see what impact it had, especially since the government announced that it would consider making alterations to the law as a result.

‘This would have such a positive impact on parents, particularly in the financial sense, but it seems that many parents are already taking this court case as a sign that they too could get out of a fine if they take their children out of school for a holiday, especially those who’ve already booked.

‘They should be wary though until the law is changed, unless they are prepared to pay the fine.’

Platt, 44, was fined by Isle of Wight Council after he took his family to Walt Disney World in Florida without permission from his daughter’s school. The original 60 fine was doubled because he refused to pay. Platt won the case when the dispute went before Isle of Wight Magistrates’ Court in October. The local authority appealed against the decision at the High Court in London, leading to last week’s ruling.

Flight search website, cheapflights.co.uk found that last weekend there was a 50 per cent surge in searches for flights to Lanzarote during the spring term

Following the ruling, another British travel firm, Cheapflights.co.uk noted a similar spike in searches between Friday afternoon and midnight on Monday when compared with the same time period the previous weekend, reports The Guardian1. The flight search website found that last weekend there was a 50 per cent surge in searches for flights to Lanzarote during the spring term (departing between 4 June and 12 July) and a 21 per cent increase in searches for Malaga flights. While searches for flights during autumn term to each destination were up 32 per cent and 50 per cent respectively.

Cheapflights also found that searches for flights to both destinations during the school holidays had fallen. Andrew Shelton, MD of Cheapflights.co.uk said: ‘It’s unsurprising that families are flouting the rules when it comes to taking children out of school during term time as prices can rise significantly in line with demand during the holidays.

‘A quick search on our site today shows that families can save up to 45 per cent by travelling during term time; a flight to Lanzarote is just 204 in September, which represents a saving of 340 on the adult tickets alone against the August price of 374. Hopefully this ruling will lead to some relaxation of the rules to flatten out those peak demand periods, giving everyone the chance to enjoy the benefits of a family getaway.’

However for anyone who won’t be taking their children out of school for a holiday, Shelton offers money saving tips: ‘Tuesday’s are the cheapest days to book, and generally the best fares are advertised about 50 days ahead of departure with the most expensive being seen three days before travel.

‘The time of your flight departure can also impact flight costs; morning flights tend to be more expensive so those who have the flexibility to travel between 6pm and midnight can benefit from savings.

‘Further, Friday is consistently the most expensive day to fly because of the increased demand of those trying to get away for the weekend,’ he said.

References

  1. ^ The Guardian (www.theguardian.com)

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