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Heavy air bookings as families flee tests

AIRLINES this week reported a surge in bookings by parents trying to make the most of the half-term and May bank holidays to take their children for a break after national tests.

But parents who feel their youngsters need to escape from school to sunnier climes have found it nearly impossible to get flights in the weeks following the tests.

Karen Robson, of Guilsborough, Northamptonshire, has two daughters both sitting national tests. Last December she decided on a trip to America in May. She tried to book a flight five months in advance: "I started ringing round the airlines and was told it was already very heavily booked because of the post-SATs rush. And this was by an American company! I could not believe my ears.

"Eventually we got a flight with Northwest Airlines but I had to try several companies first. I do think it a sign of how much parents are concerned about the tests that they want to take their children outof school immediately afterwards. People are talking about nothing else."

Although schools have flexibility in the timing of the tests, most will be done by next week.

A spokeswoman for Virgin Atlantic said: "The week beginning May 21 is certainly a very busy period for us with lots of families travelling. Exams and school holidays do have a noticeable effect on bookings, and many people also take their children away after GCSEs and A-levels."

A spokesman for British Airways said: "That week is the close to the start of our peak period which runs more or less from Easter to the end of September. Families are booking very heavily at this time and half-term, like any school holiday, certainly does have an effect. It's hard to say whether the exams are having a specific effect but it is certainly true to say we will be extremely busy with family bookings from that point onwards."

Uneasiness over tests, 10-11

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