Heathrow hotels "cash in" on stranded passengers

By Becky Paskin

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: British airways, Baa limited, Virgin atlantic airways

Flight delays and cancellations have given airport hotels a surge in custom
Flight delays and cancellations have given airport hotels a surge in custom
Hotels situated near London Heathrow have been accused of cashing in on the plight of thousands of stranded airline passengers by charging up to 300 per cent more for rooms than they would for next month.

The data, gathered by online booking service Hotels.com, has revealed that demand for hotel rooms near the UK’s major airports has soared since Saturday’s heavy snowfall, with searches for Heathrow alone up 95 per cent on the same period last year.

The heavy snow hitting all parts of the UK has halted air travel at many airports since the weekend, leaving passengers desperate to get home for Christmas stranded.

Hotels near Gatwick airport, which reopened its runways on Saturday but continues to work through a backlog of flights, had also hiked their prices too, with rooms 74 per cent more expensive than January 2011 prices.

Alison Couper from Hotels.com said: “Room rates are definitely going up but some providers are charging far more than others.

“Clearly, availability for rooms around Heathrow is at a premium as travellers find themselves stranded as a result of the severe weather conditions - and prices rise as demand outstrips supply.

“There has been a big surge of activity on our website as people try to find rooms near Heathrow rather than bed down in the terminals.”

Price surge

A search of available hotels on the booking website on 21 December, for a standard double room on 22 December for one night, showed Thistle London Heathrow’s price at £234. A second search for the same room for 19 January for one night returned a price of just £59.

The story was the same for Comfort Hotel Heathrow, whose 22 December price was £129, falling to just £69 for 19 January.

Couper added: “There is still availability around London’s airports with some reasonable deals but the increase in demand is having a varying impact on the pricing structures of operators.”

Ash cloud similarities

Airport hotels were placed in a similar situation back in April 2010, when a volcanic ash cloud engulfed the UK​ and prevented flights from taking off.

Stranded passengers fought to obtain hotel rooms until they could fly, with many hotels near the major UK airports reaching maximum occupancy.

However most resisted the urge to increase their prices. Sofitel Gatwick, and its sister properties the Mercure and Arora hotels in nearby Crawley, struck an agreement with airlines locally to offer discounted pricing to passengers, and turned its 220-cover conference room into a "rolling buffet" for those stranded.

Related topics: Hotels, Trends & Reports, Business

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