Dubious discounts: Which? warns consumers over potentially misleading Black Friday flight and holiday ‘deals’

Which? is warning consumers about the risk of misleading Black Friday travel deals after a series of special offers for last year’s event turned out to be exaggerated or non-existent.


On Black Friday in 2018 (23 November), Which? Travel analysed promotions advertised by major airlines and holiday companies – before checking the prices again two weeks later to see whether the deals on offer were really worth snapping up.


Ryanair offered 25 per cent off one million seats purchased by midnight on Black Friday for travel between January and April 2019. While this might have sounded inviting, none of the flights Which? Travel checked were any cheaper on 23 November than they were when checked two weeks later. Two flights – London Stansted to Oslo and London Stansted to Lanzarote – were actually £5 more expensive on Black Friday.


There was also little availability on the ‘deals’. Out of 10 Ryanair flights, only six routes were available at the headline sale price offered on Black Friday. A sale flight from London Stansted to Barcelona, advertised at £4.88, did not appear to exist at all for the dates advertised.


EasyJet’s Black Friday sale claimed travellers could save £50 on 60,000 short city breaks, but out of the 21 holidays that Which? Travel investigated, eight of them were cheaper just two weeks later. What’s more, a three-night trip from London Luton to Barcelona in January 2019 was £26 cheaper – 13 per cent less than the Black Friday ‘deal’ price of £203.


Norwegian Air advertised Black Friday discounts ‘up to 30 per cent off short-haul fares and 15 per cent off long-haul fares’. When Which? Travel investigated, the average saving was just £6. The biggest saving, almost £24, was for a flight from London Gatwick to Buenos Aires, which if purchased on Black Friday cost £226 – a less significant 10 per cent off the price Which? Travel found on 7 December.


Tui offered discounts codes worth £100 or £150 off selected breaks but these codes failed to work on two of the five holidays that Which? looked at. An all-inclusive week in Lanzarote, flying from Birmingham, with a discount of £100 was actually only £32 cheaper than the price available two weeks later on 7 December.


Which? is urging people to think twice before buying a holiday or flight that’s advertised as a Black Friday deal this year and to not feel pressured by time-limited offers.


Rory Boland, Which? Travel Editor, said:

“Nothing beats the feeling of saving hundreds on your next holiday, but that feeling can quickly turn to anger when you discover it would have been cheaper if you’d waited to book.


“Our research reveals that Black Friday travel deals aren’t always what they appear to be. Avoid disappointment by comparing prices and approach attention-grabbing saving claims with scepticism.”


Which? advice for shopping on Black Friday

  • Don’t assume that the deal on offer is good value just because of an attention-grabbing saving.

  • Don’t feel pressured by time-limited offers, such as Black Friday deals. Which? research shows that prices are the same – or even lower – at other times of the year.

  • Try to compare prices elsewhere – like Skyscanner for flights.

  • Read the small print to make sure there aren’t any additional payments you will need to make.

  • Plan ahead and do your research.



  • Which? Travel analysed Black Friday deals in 2018 (23rd November) from five popular holiday companies. It compared the prices available two weeks later on 7th December 2018 to see if the Black Friday deals were as good as they claimed.


Rights of reply


  • Norwegian Air explained that the saving offered was based on the net not gross fares (excluding taxes and charges), but Which? Travel did not consider this to be clear on Norwegian Air’s website.

  • No other companies responded.

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