Reader Theo recently emailed me to explain how he had saved a decent amount on a weekend break in Rome by adding a car to his booking via ba.com. Similar savings can be made by throwing in a hotel.
The key point is this – you don’t need to collect the car, you don’t need to stay in the hotel. Nothing bad will happen to you. British Airways will certainly not cancel your flight home.
The reason this works is that BA has a separate ticket class which can only be accessed when it is packaged with a car or hotel. If the price gap between this ‘secret’ ticket class and the cheapest tickets offered to the public is big enough, large savings can be made.
Here is an example. I didn’t ‘fix’ these results by picking the best example I could fine – this is the first one I tried. Note that I did this experiment on the March 10th so these prices may not be available now.
Flight only, British Airways to Rome, 8th to 10th May: £501 for two people
Screenshot below. The flight price is high but I have picked the perfect Friday AM / Sunday PM economy flights to maximise your weekend away. Note that the same flights are used in all of the examples below.
Same flights but add in the smallest car which you do not bother to collect: £412 for two people, saving £89
You also receive 824 bonus Avios when you take this option, on top of the usual Avios earned.
Same flights but add in the cheapest hotel which you do not bother to use: £487 for two people, saving £14
You also receive 974 bonus Avios when you take this option, on top of the usual Avios earned. You could even stay in the hotel if you wanted – or, of course, pay a little extra and get somewhere smarter or more central.
An extra bonus!
The £501 cash price I quoted for this trip in the first example was based on ‘hand baggage only’ fares. As well as no suitcase, these fares no longer allow you to select a seat.
If you book a ‘flight and car’ or ‘flight and hotel’ package, you are actually sold a standard flight ticket which includes luggage. If you have British Airways status, this ticket would also allow you free seat selection which you cannot now get with ‘hand baggage only’ fares.
The lesson is clear – next time you book a short-haul flight on ba.com, make sure you compare the price with a car or a hotel included. You might actually save money!