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Airport Hassles Put Parents Off Travelling With Toddlers

Posted Mar 22 2010 10:01pm

Car hire broker calls for better support for frazzled parents who feel let down

As families get ready for the Easter escape, lengthy airport delays, long waits at the baggage carousel and rude passengers top the list of parents’ biggest bug-bears when travelling abroad with kids, new research reveals today.

For just over two millioni families, the sheer hassle of getting to their destination is enough to put them off holidaying aboard with their children completely, according to the new report by leading car hire broker Holiday Autos.  

The Holiday Autos ‘Travelling with Tots’ study shows three in five parents (61%) get frazzled by long queues, while a third (33%) hate hanging around at the baggage carousel for buggies to finally arrive.  Over a quarter (26%) resent being stung for extra charges levied by airlines to take items like car seats with them and nearly one in five (18%) begrudge the lack of space to change nappies on the plane.

The report reveals that one of parents’ biggest worries is the availability of suitable car seats when they eventually reach their destination and jump in the hire car to their hotel.

With one in ten families saying they’ve been let down on car seats by car hire firms in the past, Holiday Autos is calling for better practice across the industry so parents have one less thing to worry about this Easter.  The car hire broker is working with its suppliers to ensure that suitable child seats are readily available when parents arrive at the destination.

In addition to putting off flying abroad to avoid the hassle of car seats, over one in six (17%) opt to drive to foreign destinations rather than take a risk on borrowing unfamiliar baby seats.  Over a quarter admit to lugging their car seats with them on the plane, often at a cost of £20 a piece, to ensure total peace of mind.

Commenting on the report, Stuart Nassos, MD of Holiday Autos says “Travelling with kids can be tough at the best of times. After a stressful flight minding the children, the last thing parents want is to be let down when they go and pick up the hire car.

“At Holiday Autos, we are championing on behalf of parents and across the car hire industry to ensure car seats are readily available.  We are working closely with our suppliers to guarantee child seats if they are booked at least 7 days in advance of their car rental and, if necessary we’ll pay for a new car seat if a customer finds themselves stranded without one.  However, there is still a lot more that car hire firms and the travel industry can do to make travel more family-friendly”.

The Travelling with Tots report looks at what Mums and Dads most want from car hire firms and what changes they would most like to see:

Over 90% want more cast-iron guarantees that car seats booked in advance will be available at pick up

Four in five parents (79%) want to see cheaper prices

Nearly three quarters (74%) want airlines to waive the cost of taking your own car seat if needed 

72% want better guidance on how to fit the car seats at the destination

And almost half (47%) want to see priority pick up for young families at car hire check-in desks

Mumsnet, who carried out the research on behalf of Holiday Autos says: "Flying with children is hard enough without the anxiety of wondering whether there will be a safe and suitable car seat available at your airport destination. Anything Holiday Autos can offer that takes some of the stress out of travelling will be welcomed by Mumsnetters."

Stuart Nassos, from Holiday Autos continues: “More often than not, car hire is the last part of a holiday to be arranged.  To avoid missing out on either the car you want or the car seats you need, it’s vital that families book early, especially this Summer.”

Indeed, 2010 will continue to see a shortage of car hire availability across the board due to the impact of the recession.  The economic crisis of 2009 saw many hire firms unable to buy as many new cars due to a combination of significantly reduced car manufacturing output and tighter credit available to hire firms to purchase vehicles.  This has resulted in smaller car fleets being made available for hire in 2010.

The cut-backs have been experienced by car hire firms big and small and, while some are shifting fleets to more popular destinations, travellers could be left disappointed if they don’t book early.  Meanwhile, others could find that if they leave it too late, they may pay over the odds for car hire, have to hire a larger (and so more expensive) car or worse case scenario – find car hire has run out in their particular location.

About Holiday Autos:

Holiday Autos is the world’s largest car hire broker operating in over 5,000 locations around the world.  Working with partners including Avis, Alamo, Europcar, Sixt, Hertz, National, Thrifty and Budget, Holiday Autos offers competitively priced car hire and a high level of service to all its customers.  As well car hire, holiday autos also offers campervan hire, van hire, prestige and hybrid car hire as well as chauffeur drive services through its consumer website.

Travellers can book directly at  or by calling one of the customer services team on 0871 472 5229 between 7am to 10pm, 7 days a week.

Holiday Autos has compiled several essential guides to popular European and Worldwide destinations which are hosted on their consumer website.  For more please visit:

1 13% of families admit to not travelling abroad due to the associated hassles. There are 17.1 million families in the UK (source: ONS, PFMA, Sheffield University 2007)

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