Agents joined the frenetic scramble for flights and accommodation this week after four English football teams made it to European finals.
Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur fans are heading to Madrid for the Champions League final on June 1, while Chelsea and Arsenal supporters travel to Baku in Azerbaijan for the Europa League final on May 29.
Agents were deluged with travel requests but were forced to find innovative solutions as availability tightened and prices rocketed. To get to Baku meant potentially booking transfers, trains, different airlines and stopovers.
Thomas Cook Sport put return day trips from Stansted and Liverpool to Madrid on sale from £559 to supporters with official match tickets, and from £979 for Baku.
Thomas Cook said a lack of aircraft due to the grounding of B737 Maxs and only one airline operating to Baku compounded the situation.
Ascot Travel House manager Sarah Busby booked indirect flights and accommodation for one night in Madrid for a Spurs fan and his son for £2,478, but said securing the hotel proved far from straightforward.
“I researched lots of options, like going to Barcelona and getting a train to Madrid, but my client’s time was limited,” she said.
“By the time I’d found a hotel and checked with my client, the price had trebled or wasn’t available. I had flights on hold until 4pm and managed to book the hotel at 3pm. I was panicking!”
Tiffany Woodley, owner of Liverpool-based Myriad Travel, bagged cheap deals by booking straight after the Reds’ unexpected semi-final win against Barcelona.
She said: “We were quick and did it on the night, so the first few got the whole trip for £350. We booked passengers into Malaga the day before the match and a train to Madrid on the Saturday, returning to Malaga on Sunday and flying home on Monday.”
Myriad decided against arranging a charter flight following difficulties last year when one of four it organised for Liverpool fans travelling to Kiev was cancelled at the last minute, leaving the agency to deal with the “horrific aftermath”.
The CAA launched a campaign this week to warn fans of the dangers of booking without financial protection.
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