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piggy bank airline ticketsI’ve just booked the kind of deal that makes me feel like I’m a great explorer.

I’m Marco Polo stumbling onto an overland trade route to China or Magellan finding his way around Cape Horn. In my mind, I have discovered something truly sensational — dare I say something that could even change the way that people look at the world … of great deals on airfare.

I’ve booked a deal for a roundtrip transatlantic flight for more than $1,400 less than the normal ticket price by adding on a rental car.

Normally, if you’re booking a trip for a week or so, you only get a cheap fare if you stay over at least one Saturday. Book a Monday – Friday flight, as many business travelers do, and the airlines gouge you. However, if you fly British Airways and book a package deal through its Web site (flight + rental car, hotel, etc.), you are granted access to the super-secret cheapo rates.

Evidence my booking. I was looking for a flight from London to either Philadelphia or New York, and after a few hours of searching, the lowest fare I found was £1,497 (a little over $2,300) on the British Airways Web site. But when I clicked on the “flight + car” package option, the total price dropped to £555 (about $880).

Tips for Finding Cheap Airfare

Unable to believe my eyes, I called one of BA’s agents, who confirmed that, indeed, you can get this kind of deal routinely by booking a package. “When we’re selling holidays, we’re a tour operator and we have preferential rates, which we’re able to pass … on to the consumer,” said Tracy Long of British Airways Holidays. “If you’re booking anything more than just a flight, you’re able to take advantage of deeper discounts.”

In my case, booking a package may also have dropped me into the leisure travel category, which usually offers cheaper rates than those for business travelers.

So enjoy your discounted flight and rental car or hotel stay courtesy of IndependentTraveler.com, and when you brag about the deal to your friends, be sure to claim the discovery for yourself.

See Our Latest Airfare Deals

— written by Jamey Bergman

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6 Responses to “A Clever Secret to Getting a Cheaper Airfare”

  1. lee laurino says:

    yes, but do they still charge more for passengers traveling solo?
    double for the hotels for example?

    • Hi Lee,

      You’d have to check on that with your individual airline when you book, but I did a quick test on British Airways and did find that the cost for two people was a little bit less per person for a flight/car package, probably because the cost of the car rental was divided between two people. I’d imagine the same would apply for a flight/hotel package. That said, even for a solo traveler it was still cheaper to book the flight and the car rental on the dates I tried (a Monday through Friday) than to book the flight alone.

      Hope that helps.

      Sarah Schlichter

  2. Pete Maclean says:

    This could be one of the best airfare tips I have come across. But I wonder about two things. First, what happens if I book a flight-plus-car deal and then do not take the car? Does my return flight get canceled? I suppose I could always pick up the car, park it in an airport parking area for the duration and then return it before departing. Second, what extras am I obliged to pay for the car rental? Is a deal like this structured so that I can get away without paying any of the usually numerous fees, required insurance premiums, taxes and so on?

    • Hi Pete,

      We definitely would not recommend not taking the car, as you’re right — your failure to show up for that could invalidate the rest of your reservation. If you don’t actually need a car, you could try booking a flight + hotel package instead to try to get the discount.

      And yes, you would need to pay any applicable taxes and fees on the car rental, just as you’d have to pay applicable taxes and fees on your flight.

      Hope this helps.

      Sarah Schlichter

  3. Mary says:

    This does work as I have used it a few times myself.
    You have to look for ways to save if you want to travel.
    So you have money for the next trip :)

  4. Peter Piper says:

    I absolutely cannot believe the prices to Europe these days. A rock-bottom round-trip fare these days is about $850 from the east coast of the U.S. — and that is if you are lucky.

    During the nineties I flew regularly for $350 round trip.

    Apparently the culprit is the extremely high oil prices and the exhorbitant ‘taxes’ that some countries have placed on travel into or out of their countries. Still it’s made the whole idea of budget travel extremely difficult because such a large part of your budget is used up by the flight itself.

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