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Save on BA short-haul flights by throwing in a car or hotel!

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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  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.

Flight only 2

Same flights but add in the smallest car which you do not bother to collect:  £412 for two people, saving £89

Car and flight 2

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

Hotel 2

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, make sure you compare the price with a car or a hotel included.  You might actually save money!

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  1. The ability to choose seats on a non-HBO fare applies to all regardless of status. It is just that those with higher status can choose earlier. But a non-status passenger can still choose at checkin unless they are on HBO fare.

  2. It’s also worthwhile checking flight+car/hotel when purchasing long haul midweek seat only fares where by default you will only be eligible for the fully flexible Y/W fare. WT and WT+ have worked in the past for me in this way.

  3. Irons1980 says:

    But important to note, you won’t earn status / points on the hotel stay if it’s part of a chain and you do choose to stay in the hotel

  4. Probably worth adding that this isn’t unique to BA either. For many years travel agents like Trailfinders have offered Inclusive Tour or “IT” fares. They can offer you a cheaper price for the flight if you take some ground arrangements from them, although every fare seems to be different – some you just need to book a hotel for a couple of nights, with others you have to have a car for the entire duration etc.

  5. Doesn’t work for LCY to EDI! 🙁

    • I’ve found for Scotland, taking the last flight from Gatwick then a late afternoon return to city can be a complete bargain! You get the whole thing for less than just the flights and no need for a taxi to the airport at sparrow’s fart. ..

  6. The Mrs and I jumped on about half a dozen long weekend packages using BA flight + hotel over the last 18 months or so. Some very good value to be had. Only niggle is regarding the “bonus” avios that BA advertise prominently with these packages: I’m yet to have these post automatically. They require numerous emails and/or calls and much frustration. In my experience if you don’t chase, you will not receive these bonus avios. Would be interested to hear if others have had a similar or different experience

  7. That’s lovely as long as you’re flying with someone else. All of BA’s holiday deals seem to be priced for 2 people. I’ve yet to find any way of getting the same price for one person, as the hotel bill is halved in the per person comparison to make it look better.

    • Irons1980 says:

      You just select a flight for 1 person – hotel rooms are usually charged on a per room basis, not a per person anyway

      • I tried various combinations of hotel and car hire, but none of the flights are any cheaper for a single person. Single person flight £122. Single person flight plus car hire £188.

        Yes, rooms are charged per room, so the headline rate of £X pp means that it’s more if you’re a single traveler, as the room charge is split in half.

        • Irons1980 says:

          I think the point is that on occasion it’s cheaper – for example, I have had return flights to Amsterdam coming in at £300+ but when booking with a hotel coming in at around £250 or at least the same price as the flight alone (thus saving me the hotel night)

          It doesn’t always work – it’s best to try it when flights are coming in particularly high for a destination you are interested in, especially midweek for business trips.

  8. Thunderbirds says:

    This feature of BA ticket classes has been around for some time. In fact when making a booking like this in Club Europe + Car to Malaga or Gibraltar it was possible (Winter 2013/2014) to end up with ~12,500 Avios (with Silver) for £285 which was nice earner for Tier and Avios. The change to 2 Avios per £ (rather than a straight 5,000) and Silver downgrade from end of April just shows how much the develauation has been.

    • Yes, that flat bonus on 5,000 Avios for any BA Holiday booking was a good one – albeit rather too generous!

      • Thunderbirds says:

        I agree it was generous, but the devaluation of the holiday bonus is what pushed me to switch to Monarch on those routes. Monarch Gold still gives extra legroom seats free. Again a long way from when Monarch Gold used to have extra legroom, preferential check-in and boarding, meal, lounge access and newspapers included. No longer, but usually a lot cheaper than BA for those not needing a connection. How things change.

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