Liverpool fans raging at hike in flight prices for Champions League final
Liverpool fans from Northern Ireland have been left fuming after shocking hikes in flight prices to Madrid for the Champions League final saw many of them priced out of the game.
Jurgen Klopp's team completed a stunning comeback at Anfield on Tuesday night to defeat Barcelona 4-3 on aggregate, having trailed 3-0 after the first leg.
Reds supporters were yesterday hit with fares of up to nearly £1,500 for return flights from London to Madrid if they fly out on Friday and back on Sunday - and that was before they quickly sold out.
Others departing from Dublin - as there are no direct flights from Belfast to the Spanish capital - were forced to fork out a whopping €600 (£517) for a return ticket - without taking the exorbitant cost of accommodation into account.
The cheapest deal on Booking.com yesterday afternoon was for the Hotel Madrid Charmartin, at £598 for a twin room.
Massive Liverpool fan Pearse Sharratt (30), a barber, told how he booked a one-way flight on Tuesday night from Belfast to Madrid via Ibiza for €90 (£78) just to make sure he got there without breaking the bank.
"Flights from Dublin just went through the roof last night; I know boys who booked flights with Ryanair straight after the semi-final and it cost them €600 return," he said.
"I managed to get a ticket for the final for £1,000 so I was determined to get there however I could - even if it means going via Ibiza. Most of the flights on the game day were sold out by Wednesday afternoon and I know absolutely loads of people who simply couldn't afford to go because the flights are so expensive."
Pearse, who said he was just back from the semi-final in Barcelona last week, said he was travelling with his Liverpool-based uncle Barry Brennan (37), although Barry hasn't found a flight yet.
"He hasn't booked anything but he'll be there by hook or by crook," he said. "Everyone thinks that I'm the mad fan but he's on another level to me."
Meanwhile, the Belfast native also admitted that he has nowhere to stay in Madrid, nor any plans when it comes to returning home after the match on Saturday, June 1.
"The price of accommodation in Madrid would make your toes curl," Pearse said.
"I haven't got anywhere. If you go on to any normal accommodation websites you're looking at anything up to £1,000 a night for the cheapest, most basic room."
He added: "There's talk of taking a train to Alicante and flying from there to Belfast but to be honest I don't care if I have to go to Timbuktu, I'll be there."
Flights from London to Madrid, priced at £135 on Monday, had risen to £757 following the Reds' astonishing victory over Barcelona in Tuesday's semi-final, with fans slamming the prices on social media as "ridiculous" and "criminal".
One fan wrote on Twitter "these flight prices are ridiculous" and "it's criminal flight companies putting their prices up that much".
Airline bosses defended the costs as "demand-led" and said "we do not artificially increase ticket prices".