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. Interesting but I’ve always been nervous of this when booking economy in the hope for a “cheap” pro-active upgrade as I’ve never been convinced they’re still offered with packages. Does anyone know if the upgrades are still offered?

    • BA seem to have changed the pricing structure of their POUG’s. They’re still offered reasonably regularly, but they don’t seem cheap any more…at least not for me.

    • @mkcol says:

      They are still offered.
      I booked flight & car to TFS which per this article was cheaper than flight only. I was later offered the option to upgrade for a nominal fee.

      • The question is, why would you want the upgrade? Short-haul Club Europe has slightly better food and drink – that’s it. If you’ve got status and so can get into the lounges anyway, I don’t see why you’d pay anything extra for a short flight.

        • The_Real_A says:

          I agree – with status i cannot find any compelling reason to travel business on short haul, and most agree as we have seen the removal of the product across Europe. It exists only as extra capacity from connecting long haul business.

          Without status then the perks are nice, but are easily covered by purchasing them separately even on Ryanair!

        • gnarlyoldgoatdude says:

          Yes….If you’ve got status.

          However, sometimes it is worth paying an extra few pounds to get an extra 60 or so tier points in order to reach status….at which point you can then revert to Y.

        • Similarly, it is often worth pushing for BA Gold because – due to the soft landing to Silver – you don’t need to spend a penny on tier point earning flights the following year!

        • gnarlyoldgoatdude says:

          As someone on 295 tier points (but with 20 more booked), I don’t think I could justify an extra 300 within my membership year, but I get the point.

          Raffles, do you have a definitive list of programmes that provide soft landings?
          I received a flyer from Hilton saying that I was now Gold, but could re-qualify for Diamond with 4 stays within 2 months if I registered (which was actualy the link you posted a week or so ago). Looking at my account I am still showing as Diamond, but had expected to drop to blue a month or so ago.

        • Good question. BA yes, Lufthansa yes. American no. No other direct experience recently.

  2. Christian Young says:

    Yes, I had the same thing travelling to Palma, the flight and car option saves about £50.

  3. Another benefit worth noting here is that if you’re booking well in advance, you only pay a deposit for the trip with the balance due nearer departure. So 1) you get to keep hold of the cash and 2) if you need to cancel at a later date, you just walk away from the booking with a limited loss.

  4. Phillip says:

    I book flight and car packages frequently (I need the car anyway) and it works nicely in both Economy and Business class. My best saving was for flights to Cyprus in Club. £600 for flight only, £279 for flight and car. I haven’t seen them this year but throughout January and February last year BA was offering this deal almost as standard! And this can be a particular saver for last minute bookings when flights are generally more expensive, the saving is even bigger if the separate booking class for packages, as Raffles mentions, is available.

  5. What's the Point says:

    Our trip to Prague next weekend was going to be £350 for 2 x BA Flights + £180 for 2 nights at the Hilton.
    Booked via the BA Website (same flight+same hotel together) it came to £320!

  6. The same thing can work long haul generally if you aren’t staying on a Saturday night

    e.g. Mon May 11th — New York return Thu May 14th is £1,236.76 in economy, add in a car and the price drops to £544.00

  7. Worth noting that you can also book a hotel for part of your trip. Not sure if this helps you save on flight costs, though. Also note that you won’t get points for your hotel stay with the hotel’s own programme.

  8. I stumbled on this recently myself when booking a weekend trip to Lisbon for this May – as it happened BA also offered the hotel I wanted. I saved a good deal of cash and got bonus avios too.

  9. Some nice deals there – do you know if these are all ex-London only, Rob, or have BA for once realised they have potential customers elsewhere in the UK? 😉 I’ve looked at some of their deals before but certainly the weekend ones only seemed to let you look at ex-LON

  10. Does this only work for international flights? I’ve just tried a dummy booking on a domestic flight and, although the car hire cost was ridiculously cheap (£25 for 3 days), it was still resolutely showing a Hand Baggage only allowance for the flights.

  11. Heathrow to JFK 20-23rd April in Economy, with out car £1200, with car £615

  12. 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.

  13. 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.

  14. 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

  15. 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.

  16. 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. ..

  17. 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

  18. 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.

  19. 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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