Location: Carlisle
Wanted: Mum, dad and daughter (10) want to go overseas for a holiday but their daughter is autistic, so require an autism-friendly facilities and advice on coping at airports.
Budget: £4,000

Dawson & Sanderson
31 Lowther Street
91%
Staff looked professional, alongside a good selection of brochures and special offers. The agent asked about my daughter’s needs and spoke to an advisor at Enable Holidays. The agent knew about airport assistance for hidden disabilities, and her recommendations had an indoor play area for arts and crafts and other quiet activities. Both quotes were for seven-night holidays, flying from Newcastle in April, staying at THB Tropical Island, Playa Blanca, Lanzarote. The first was Enable Holidays and cost £3,077, including private transfers and airport assistance. The second was Jet2holidays and cost £2,076, including coach transfers and airport assistance. The agent was interested in finding out about autism-friendly holidays and keen to find the right resort. When she realised the same hotel was available through alternative providers, she sourced a better deal.

Thomas Cook
13-15 English Street
55%
I was given a range of choices, as the agent attempted to match my requirements to suit my daughter’s needs, and I was emailed quotations later that day. Both quotes were seven nights with Thomas Cook in April, departing from Manchester, with private taxi transfers. The first was Suite Hotel Atlantis, Fuerteventura, for £2,121 including private taxi transfer. The second was Sunwing Fanabe Resort, Tenerife, for £2,657. They were not the hotels I viewed in the shop; were not with flights from Newcastle; and only offered one bedroom with a partitioned area for my child.

Cumbria Travel
31-33 Fisher Street
53%
I was shown on-screen options but not given enough time to study details of each resort. I didn’t get the impression the agent was confident about my specific requirements and I wasn’t asked any open questions about her special needs. Both quotes were seven-night holidays in April, departing from Newcastle. The first was with Thomas Cook, at Costa Adeje Gran, Tenerife, for £2,293. The second was with Jet2holidays, at Caybeach Sun, Playa Blanca, Lanzarote, for £2,247. I would have expected to be offered more as the budget was there.


Winning agent

Lyndsey Campbell Casson, assistant manager

“We get quite a few inquiries about holidays for disabled people, such as wheelchair users, and we’re getting more for those with special needs. There are more options than there used to be, and the airports and airlines have more facilities too.”


Verdict

Dawson & Sanderson was the only agency to offer an option from a company that specialises in holidays for disabled travellers – and sourced a cheaper holiday too. Thomas Cook and Cumbria Travel both offered mainstream operators with holidays that were well under budget.