Build your own business class fare sale with vacation packages

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Lately, we have published some great ways to get cheap business class plane tickets. Whether showing how you could buy points to score a great deal on business class or discovering an an all-out fare war and showing you how we found it so you can be on the lookout for the next big sale, we’ve covered some solid strategies to fly comfortably for less. Today, we’ll look at another way to save big on the cost of business class to Europe — particularly if you’re starting from the west coast or a smaller-market city. However, today’s method can help you save on flights from many cities across the country and to a variety of destinations.

Vacation packages often sound appealing on the surface, but savvy travelers find that packages peddled by online travel agencies don’t often provide a savings over booking separately. This is because the most expensive piece of the package is airfare, and OTAs have very little flexibility in regards to discounting it. The one entity with nearly unlimited flexibility in the price of the airfare is the airline itself. And therefore, we find that buying packages directly from the major airlines can sometimes result in massive savings over the cost of buying tickets separately — with flights sometimes being significantly cheaper when packaged with hotels or rental cars.

How much can you save?

Savings can be considerable. For example, here are current business class prices for 2 travelers from Charleston, South Carolina to Barcelona, Spain from May 24th-31st according to Google Flights:

CHS-BCN Business Class 2 Travelers Google

As you can see, business class airfare out of Charleston is quite expensive — starting at $9,311 for two people.

However, if you purchase a package from AA Vacations that includes two round trip business class tickets on the same dates bundled with a couple of nights at a hotel, the savings can be considerable:

AA CHS-BCN Package Prices

As you can see, booking a package that includes a few nights of hotel accommodations is less than half the cost of the tickets alone at just $4,510.64 for two people. Don’t want to stay at the Hotel Porta de Gallecs?  No problem — with the $4,800 you just saved, you can take your pick as to where to stay.

Opportunities for big savings are not limited to the east coast. Flights from San Francisco to Barcelona on the same dates — May 24-31 — are similar in price from Google Flights:

SFo-BCN Google Flights

The price on the Turkish flights may be influenced by this week’s surprise electronics ban announcement. American rings in at over $9,200.

And here are the two least expensive hotel + flight packages for flights on the same dates:

AA barcelona

Yes, these packages include business class airfare for two.

From San Francisco, round trip business class packages come in thousands less than the price of airfare alone — from $4,842.88 for two people. Similar savings can be found from many different cities.

And this phenomenon is not limited to American Airlines. Delta loyalists will be happy to hear that there are deals to be found with the Delta Vacations booking engine as well. For example, business class airfare for two from Savannah, Georgia to Paris, France from June 14th-21st would be over $6,000 according to Google Flights:

SAV-CDG Google Flights

But the price for two people booked through Delta vacations for the same dates with six days of car rental is just $4,355.70.

SAV-CDG Step 5 Total Price for 2 pax

You’ll have to trust me that those are business class flights. The connections across the pond can both be on Air France for the same price.

Booking American Airlines packages

The process of booking these vacation packages is simple and straightforward. For example, American Airlines has a dedicated AA Vacations site for booking vacation packages. You do not need to book the hotel through AA Vacations for the entire length of your stay — American requires at least a 3-night hotel stay. Maybe you plan to visit multiple cities or you prefer to book your hotel separately on points, but you still want to enjoy the savings of a vacation package. If this is your aim, you will want to click “More Search Options” from the home page before starting your search:

AA Vacations Home Page More Search Options

From there, you can select the box that says, “Hotel dates different than flight dates” — though note that AA will require you to choose a hotel booking of at least three nights.

AA Vacations Hotel Dates Different

That’s not to suggest that the rates for packaged hotels aren’t a good value — on the contrary, packages including hotel for the length of your stay might be well worth your while. For example, airfare alone from Oklahoma City to Milan from May 24th-31st currently starts at $6,166 for two people at the time of writing. A package from American Airlines Vacations including 6 nights at the Doubletree Milan comes to a grand total of $5600:

Oklahoma City Doubletree Milan

While I can’t speak to the location or quality of the hotel, cash rates at the time of writing start from 132 Euros a night (for AAA members). At today’s exchange rate, that is about $854.13 total for 6 nights (arriving 5/25 and departing on 5/31). Two business class tickets and an $854 hotel room for $566 less than the price of the tickets alone looks like an excellent deal.  Whether you are looking for a different location or class of hotel, there are many opportunities to snag a deal.

Booking Delta Vacation Packages

Delta vacation package searches can be started directly from the Delta.com home page by selecting the “vacation packages” tab and choosing which options to bundle. To narrow down your search to business class, you’ll want to choose the advanced search options link at the bottom:

Delta home page

From there, the booking process is fairly intuitive. I chose to bundle a flight and car. First. you will select the flights you prefer and build your itinerary.

SAV-CDG Step 2

Next, you will select your preferred car class. When choosing a car rental, there are many upgraded options presented. To keep your package at the price initially displayed, you want to look for the car that says “+ $0” or “included in package price”:

SAV-CDG Step 4

From there, the booking process is the same as booking a flight alone — but much cheaper.

What about United?

United also offers vacation packages, but I really struggled finding a business class package to Europe that was more attractively priced than airfare alone. I expect that it is every bit as possible. United Vacations searches can be initiated directly from the United.com home page — perhaps you will have better luck with your search.

Bottom Line

Hotel and flight or car rental packages can offer significant savings over booking flights alone. If you are planning a vacation, it can be well worth your while to take a look at the packages on offer from the airlines — even if you don’t intend to use their hotel or car rental, you can still save a bundle on your flights. And if you need a car anyway or can save a few dollars on bundling a hotel, they can essentially result in more value for less money. Additionally, there are often promotions for dollars off or bonus miles on top for booking these packages. Prices aren’t always more attractive and departures from some cities will offer more value than others, but there are many opportunities to save big by building your own business class fare sale with vacation packages.

 

About Nick Reyes

Nick Reyes is a (fairly) regular guy with an animalistic passion for maximizing the value of miles and money to travel the world in comfort and style. There is little in life that he loves more than finding a fantastic deal and helping you shop smarter & harder to achieve your travel dreams.

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Comments

  1. As far as miles earning goes, are the fare codes for these actual J? Or is it a discounted bulk rate that will earn fewer miles?

  2. Good reminder to check on some tickets I would like to purchase for travel a few months from now…except the aavacations.com site has been down since you posted this! I’m blaming the tens of millions of Frequent Miler readers who immediately went there to book discounted business class tickets. 🙂

  3. Do hotels booked through this count credit/points? When booking through OTAs they don’t, when booking through FHR or LHR or Prestige, they do.

  4. If you reserve a vacation package and don’t want to use the hotel – do you just not check in? If so does that affect your return airline reservations?

    • I don’t have personal experience to report on this, but according to the Flyertalk thread I linked to above, you don’t have to check in and it won’t affect your flights. In the Wiki on that thread:

      “Q. What happens if I don’t use the ground part (hotel, car, etc.)? Will they cancel my return flights?

      A: Nothing. You can use it or forget it. No flight cancellations ensue. See [link]AA Vacations – not checking in at Hotel[link] Some purposely book the cheapest pricing for their trip knowing they’re choosing a “throwaway hotel” they won’t use.

      Though one AA Vacations agent actually said “always book with us and just book the cheapest hotel for 3 days and throw it away”, don’t you say it’s your intent.”

      And in the AA Vacations thread linked to in that part of the Wiki, see this comment:

      http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/25480422-post11.html

        • I believe you can — again, those same Flyertalk resources indicate it’s no problem, anyway. The reason I had the AA Vacations bundled with hotels is because they would not come up with any flight results when trying to bundle with a car — I’m not sure if that was an international restriction or a Europe restriction. The Delta example I gave was bundled with a car as that was cheaper.

        • Thanks. Looking at some random dates I could save a lot of money by bundling it with a car for just a few days and then not picking up the car. I just want to make sure that doing so wouldn’t cancel our return flight.

  5. Who, other than a blithering idiot, would pay those obscene rates to fly biz? Substantial savings? Give me a break.

  6. Also I was just wondering if it is possible to fly into one airport and out of another by calling, for example, AA or Delta vacations. I don’t see a way you can do this online.

  7. Greg

    Does Nick’s job security depend on how many deals, loopholes, little known gems he can massacre?

    He’s doing a fantastic job

      • I believe a company named Marriott has vacation packages as well. I believe post-merger there was so much blog talk about the use of the package to get SW companion that guess what that loophole is closing in a week. So yeah…vacation packages…

        And then a few days ago the Marriott 5 night trick of calling foreign offices. Sure another blog wrote about it first, but that blog is tiny compared to you guys. So yeah it’s a little worrisome wondering what’s next.

        Without being facetious though, he is actually doing a good job with 95% of his posts. Pretty seamless addition. (Unlike that “sirtheta” guy DoC is trying to bring in lol)

  8. This is not really related but I need some info on the deal I got ASAP. It’s sounds too good to be true but I was wandering did anybody heard of either one of this company. I’ll appreciate any input. UnlimitedTravelPackages.com and charges to Booked Travel Concepts Llc. The offer -$798 to attend 4d/3n Vacation Sale Tour and then get Bonus 8d/7n Getaway 1 Bdrm unit in 29 US/International destinations + 8d/7n Cruise entry-level inside cabin + 2 Round Trip Air tickets + +5d/4n Exotic Caribbean Getaway and some smaller bonuses.

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