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Holiday rip-off: Solo travellers being charged up to 87% more than couples

holiday  sitting on a beach, rear view, Doña Ana beach, Algarve,Portugal
As well as bearing the brunt of higher per person costs, Which? found that those travelling alone are more likely to face restricted choice. Photo: Getty

Solo travellers are regularly paying significantly more per person than those travelling as a couple, sometimes even when opting for a smaller room designed for single occupancy, research shows.

Consumer body Which? analysed thousands of package holidays from the UK’s two largest providers, Jet2holidays (JET2.L) and Tui (TUI.L), to establish the average prices for a range of holidays to popular destinations including Cyprus, France, Greece, Italy, Portugal, Spain and Turkey.

Taking into account all holiday and accommodation types, the consumer body found that on average, a solo traveller holidaying with Tui would pay almost half as much more (47%) than someone holidaying as part of a pair, with the average cost coming in at £1,147, compared with a per person cost of £781 for a couple.

Those booking with Jet2holidays meanwhile were found to pay 36% more on average for their trip than those holidaying as a pair, with solo travellers paying £1,320 for a week’s trip, compared to the £970 paid by those in a couple.

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Which? also found examples of individual travellers paying more per person for all-inclusive package trips, despite the fact a solo traveller would occupy just one plane seat, and could reasonably be expected to consume half the amount of food and drink.

For a week’s all-inclusive trip to Majorca, departing in June with Tui, Which? was quoted £840 per person for two people sharing, and was even offered an upgrade to a larger, one-bedroom apartment for the same price. However, a solo traveller would pay £1,448 for the same package, but without the added benefit of an upgraded room ⁠— that’s 70% more.

As well as bearing the brunt of higher per person costs, Which? found that those travelling alone are more likely to face restricted choice. Both Jet2holidays and Tui had notably fewer offerings for solo travellers ⁠— 10% fewer in the case of Tui, and 20% for Jet2.

Package holidays were far from the only category of trip where travellers faced increased costs, with cruises having some of the biggest discrepancies.

In one case, the consumer body found solo travellers were quoted 87% more for a single occupancy cabin, when compared with two people sharing a larger, double room on a popular Mediterranean cruise route with P&O.

Piraeus, Athens, Greece - June 2022: P&O cruise ship Azura moored in the port of Piraeus while on a visit to Athens.
In one case, Which? found solo travellers were quoted 87% more for a single occupancy cabin, when compared with two people sharing a larger, double room on a popular Mediterranean cruise route with P&O. Photo: PA/Alamy

For a holiday departing in May 2023, Which? was quoted £749 per person based on a couple sharing a double room, including flights. To book the same room as a single traveller, the consumer group was quoted 37% more, at £1,198. However, if adjusting the booking to select a smaller, single occupancy room, the price increased by a further £200.

Jo Rhodes, deputy editor of Which? Travel, said: “Single supplements are a common expense faced by solo travellers, and are often used to cover the cost of one person occupying a room intended for double occupancy. However, our research has found solo travellers routinely paying over the odds, even for smaller, single rooms.

“With inconsistent pricing across the industry, solo travellers can very easily miss out on the best prices. If you are planning a trip, make sure to shop around and wherever possible look for companies that waive single supplements.

“Take your time to compare the total price with the per person cost offered to a couple and check the cost of both single and double rooms. A single room can often save money on hotel stays, but may be a pricier option than a double cabin on some cruises.”

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Elizabeth Knowlson recently took a coach holiday to Llandudno, Wales, with coach company Shearings. She said she was given a dirty room that far from met her expectations ⁠— a bucket was even positioned outside the door to catch drips from the leaky ceiling. While the company acted to resolve the issue and moved Knowlson to a new room, it was a small single.

She told Which?: “I could simultaneously touch the opposite walls with outstretched arms. I don’t mind paying a single supplement, but this room was only fit for one person.”

Shearings has since announced that it will be removing single supplements in as many as 27 of its UK hotels.

With figures from travel association ABTA indicating that as many as one in 10 (11%) travellers holidayed alone between August 2021 and 2022.

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