Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

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

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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 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.

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


How to earn Avios points from UK credit cards

How to earn Avios from UK credit cards (August 2022)

As a reminder, there are various ways of earning Avios points from UK credit cards.  Many cards also have generous sign-up bonuses!

In February 2022, Barclaycard launched two exciting new Barclaycard Avios Mastercard cards with a bonus of up to 25,000 Avios. You can apply here.

You qualify for the bonus on these cards even if you have a British Airways American Express card:

Barclaycard Avios Plus card

Barclaycard Avios Plus Mastercard

25,000 Avios for signing up and an upgrade voucher for spending £10,000 Read our full review

Barclaycard Avios card

Barclaycard Avios Mastercard

5,000 Avios for signing up and an upgrade voucher for spending £20,000 Read our full review

There are two official British Airways American Express cards with attractive sign-up bonuses:

British Airways BA Premium Plus American Express Amex credit card

British Airways American Express Premium Plus

25,000 Avios and the UK’s most valuable card perk – the 2-4-1 voucher Read our full review

British Airways BA Amex American Express card

British Airways American Express

5,000 Avios for signing up and an Economy 2-4-1 voucher for spending £12,000 Read our full review

You can also get generous sign-up bonuses by applying for American Express cards which earn Membership Rewards points.

EDIT: Until 25th October 2022, there is an exceptionally generous sign-up bonus on The Platinum Card. You will receive 60,000 Membership Rewards points – double the usual amount – and £200 to spend at Amex Travel. You need to spend £6,000 within six months to earn the bonus.

American Express Amex Gold

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold

Your best beginner’s card – 20,000 points, FREE for a year & two airport lounge passes Read our full review

American Express Platinum card Amex

The Platinum Card from American Express

60,000 points, £200 travel credit and an unbeatable set of travel benefits – for a fee Read our full review

Run your own business?

We recommend Capital On Tap for limited companies. You earn 1 Avios per £1 which is impressive for a Visa card, along with a sign-up bonus worth 10,000 Avios.

Capital On Tap Business Rewards Visa

10,500 points bonus – the most generous Avios Visa for a limited company Read our full review

You should also consider the British Airways Accelerating Business credit card. This is open to sole traders as well as limited companies and has a 30,000 Avios sign-up bonus.

British Airways Accelerating Business American Express card

British Airways Accelerating Business American Express

30,000 Avios sign-up bonus – plus annual bonuses of up to 30,000 Avios Read our full review

There are also generous bonuses on the two American Express Business cards, with the points converting at 1:1 into Avios. These cards are open to sole traders as well as limited companies.

Amex Platinum Business American Express

American Express Business Platinum

40,000 points sign-up bonus and a long list of travel benefits Read our full review

American Express Business Gold

20,000 points sign-up bonus and free for a year Read our full review

Click here to read our detailed summary of all UK credit cards which earn Avios. This includes both personal and small business cards.

(Want to earn more Avios?  Click here to visit our home page for our latest articles on earning and spending your Avios points and click here to see how to earn more Avios this month from offers and promotions.)

Comments (37)

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

  • Tim says:

    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?

    • GaryC says:

      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.

      • Brian says:

        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.

          • Rob says:

            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.

          • Rob says:

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

  • Christian Young says:

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

  • tony says:

    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.

  • 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.

  • 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!

  • Simon says:

    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

  • Brian says:

    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.

  • Leo says:

    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.

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

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