Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Packages - Less Expensive Than Airfares

Buying more and paying less. Who doesn't like that concept?

It is fun to beat the airlines at their own game. After all, air travel is a game--the rules are always changing, players come and go (mergers, bankruptcy, dropped routes). Even when you think you have it all figured out, you don't!

Sometimes travel packages cost less than the airfare.

Take a moment to let that sink in...

Yes, travel packages can cost less than just the airfare.

A travel package is a combination of travel components--like airfare, hotel, rental car, and/or activities (meals, attractions). So, it would make sense that if the airfare is combined with lodging and rental car, then the price would go up. Not so fast, my friend! The airline world is not the real world.

The other day I looked for a flight between the East coast and Honolulu. The lowest airfare was $1,660, because the departure was the next day. A travel package (with the same airline) was $1,374. By ADDING hotel and rental car (7 nights, in this case), you save almost $300. Note that $300 savings is from the airfare. The savings are much more if you factor in the costs of lodging and rental car.

Travel packages include various components (like air, hotel, and car) BUT you do not have to use them all. People will buy travel packages simply to get lower airfares (as above). I have heard of people using their hotel only a couple of days during their trip, and even not at all. Same with the car.

Even more fascinating is that travel packages are offered by the airlines (through their vacation desks). It is not a sneaky tactic; just simply click the "Vacation" tab on the airline's website. So, while the airline offers a $1,660 fare, the airline's vacation desk offers a $1,374 vacation (including air, hotel, and car). Classic!

This is just one recent example. I have seen much more dramatic differences, like $799 packages and $1,800 flights. Packages generally have less restrictions than airfares, such as no Saturday night and advanced purchase requirements.

Please share your experiences with travel packages or any of the other concepts, by adding a comment or sending e-mail.

© 2008, Charles McCool

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