Virgin Holidays becomes first to abolish extra charges for single parents

Good news for single-parent holidaymakers.
Good news for single-parent holidaymakers.

Virgin Holidays has become the first to abolish stealth hotel charges for single-parent families to a string of long-haul destinations.

Traditionally, single mums or dads who book rooms abroad are forced to pay prices based on two adults sharing.

But from October 1, single-parent holidaymakers travelling with Virgin could save hundreds of pounds on trips to the Caribbean resorts.

The move could save families up to £1,000 and comes after it was revealed almost half of 500 single parents polled had no idea they are charged more for their holidays.

There are almost two million single-parent families in Britain with figures show this number has increased by 15 per cent in the past 20 years.

And 46 per cent of single parents admit the charge for two adults has led to them abandoning plans for a holiday altogether or looking at cheaper options closer to home.

Fifty-six per cent have even invited a friend or relation on holiday with them to get their money's worth.

Virgin's partnership with Elite Island Resorts Caribbean means single parents will avoid hefty room fees in 10 Caribbean resorts, including hotels in Antigua, St Lucia and Barbados.

NEW PRICING STRUCTURE

The current pricing structure of long-haul holidays is usually based on two adults sharing one room, meaning a single parent travelling with one child would have to pay for two adults.

The new pricing structure from Virgin offers a reduction for the second occupant if they are a child.

UK charity Gingerbread - which provides specialist advice, support and advocacy to single parents - welcomed the move and highlighted the important role companies needed to play in supporting parents across the country.

Rosie Ferguson, CEO of Gingerbread, said: "Families come in all shapes and sizes, and single-parent families make up one in four families with children in the UK.

"But we constantly hear from single parents who find themselves 'priced out' of family activities.

"All too often we see tickets, deals and memberships that offer family discounts - but only for couple families.

"That isn't just frustrating for single parents; it's also short-sighted of businesses, which are ignoring two million potential customers."

PARENTS' ANGER

The poll of single parents also found 84 per cent feel angry at the prospect of having to pay more because they are travelling alone with their offspring.

But seven per cent say they find it harder to travel as a single-parent family, with more than three-quarters saying the cost can prove too much to fund alone.

And almost eight in 10 have had to make sacrifices to be able to afford a holiday with their children, including cutting back on luxuries for themselves, selling personal items and taking on a second job or overtime.

THREE MONEY-SAVING TIPS FOR HOLIDAYING AS A SINGLE PARENT:

1. Book early: Book early for the best choice of flights and accommodation, and if possible look to avoid peak travel periods

2. Plan ahead: Purchase many of your excursions and experiences before leaving home, as travel agencies will always offer helpful advice and the best deals in advance

3. Think local: Don't be afraid of local transportation, such as coach systems, and local customs, such as 'happy-hour', to make the pound stretch further.