Christmas rip-off: UK travel routes on five-day Christmas break up to 105% more expensive

David Banks
Authored by David Banks
Posted Sunday, December 13, 2020 - 6:21am

New research by travel money experts, FairFX, has revealed Brits planning to travel across the UK during the relaxed five-day Christmas break could end up paying more than double compared to just a week earlier.

Analysing the cost of one-way tickets for popular flight, train, ferry and coach routes during the period of relaxed Covid-19 restrictions, FairFX found an average price increase of 105% compared to just one week earlier, with some routes as much as 215% more expensive.

The research comes following announcements from all four UK Governments confirming travel restrictions will be eased for five days from the 23 December to 27 December, giving families and friends across the UK the chance to meet.

But with travellers potentially set to pay the price when it comes to travel, FairFX is urging people to do their research, plan ahead and consider alternative routes and dates within the period of eased restrictions to avoid being stung by higher costs. 

Flying home for Christmas 

FairFX’s investigation looked into some of the most popular routes and travel methods likely to be used by Brits who will be travelling across the country this Christmas. 

Comparing one-way flights from airports across the UK including Bristol, London Heathrow and London Gatwick, FairFX revealed flights on 23 December cost an average 186% more than the same flight just one week earlier.

Flights from London Gatwick to Belfast increased by a shocking 200% - a cost increase of £146 per person. Meanwhile, flights from Bristol to Edinburgh increased by 172%.

Comparison of costs of flight routes

Flight route

Ticket cost for 17 December 2020

Ticket cost for 23 December 2020

% Increase

£ Increase

London Gatwick (LGW) to Belfast (BHD)





London Heathrow (LHR) to Edinburgh (EDI)





Bristol (BRS) to Edinburgh (EDI)






Travelling cross-country by train 

Research from the travel money expert revealed train ticket prices increased over the festive five-day break by 119% on average, compared with the same routes on 23 December

Brits looking to travel from Cardiff to Exeter could see prices increase by £45 per person, a hefty rise of 151% in comparison to the week earlier. A trip from London to Manchester on 23 December will also cost travellers an extra £31, as ticket prices increase by 95% compared with a week before. 

Comparison of costs of train journeys

Train route

Ticket cost on 17 December 2020

Ticket cost on 23 December 2020

% Increase

£ Increase

Cardiff to Exeter





Liverpool to London





London to Manchester






Coach trips face price spikes 

FairFX’s investigation found coach journey ticket prices rocketed by 100% over the five-day Christmas period, which means Brits are likely to pay £23 more per person for their ticket on average.

Travelling from Plymouth to Bath could cost 215% more during Christmas week – that’s an increase of £54 per person. Travelling from Cardiff to London would cost £7 more per person, as ticket prices increase by 33%.

Comparison of costs of coach trips

Coach route

Ticket cost on 17 December 2020

Ticket cost on 23 December 2020

% Increase

£ Increase

Plymouth to Bath





Bristol to Birmingham





Cardiff to London






Ferry fares face price hikes too 

With families now free to travel across borders, many may be set to take a trip across the Irish sea. But FairFX’s investigation revealed travellers could be paying more than 20% more during the Christmas getaway.

Comparison costs of ferry journeys

Ferry route

Ticket cost on 17 December 2020

Ticket cost on 23 December 2020

% Increase

£ Increase

Scotland to Ireland





Liverpool to Belfast





Fishguard to Rosslare





Analysing the cost of a ferry trip for one traveller in a car, FairFX found people travelling from Scotland to Ireland could face the biggest increase as the cost for a ticket jumps by 23%. Journeys from Liverpool to Ireland on 23 December also increase by 15%, or £26, compared with the same routes a week earlier.

Ian Strafford-Taylor, CEO of FairFX, said: “It’s no surprise that trips over the Christmas period will cost more as there is an obvious supply and demand mechanism. However, some of these price hikes are shocking, and penalise those who are acting within the rules. 

“Many people will be keen to see loved ones over Christmas, especially after the best part of nine months in lockdown, but in doing so, they could end up paying well above the odds for their travel.”

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