You know how your mom always told you that if something seems too good to be true it probably is? Well, for the most I part subscribe to my momma’s sound adage. However, every now and then the improbable happens. Enter the Delta vacation package deal. But let me back up a little…
Planning a Christmas Vacation
Last year B and I decided we wanted to try spending the Christmas holidays somewhere new. Since B just sent us to Australia, it was more or less my turn to pick our destination. I really want to go to Romania. Like really really. Now, there is a twist in the story line: both B and I have been racking up the Delta SkyMiles and we wanted to use them for this trip. Delta allows you to book flights about 11 months in advance. So around November of last year, I was patiently waiting for my window to book tickets to Bucharest, Romania.
When I first started tracking, a round-trip ticket cost about 60,000 miles. This is a very reasonable amount of miles for an international flight from lil ol’ Boise. However, as the time got closer and closer to the end of January (the earliest window for booking a Christmas-time trip) the prices skyrocketed. They just about doubled, which is way more than we wanted to use for this trip. I was pretty heartbroken, I’ll be honest.
Expanding the Search
I decided to open up the search and see where I could go for around the original amount of SkyMiles. Sadly, I didn’t have much luck getting anywhere in Europe for under 100,000. But then I noticed that flights to Amsterdam, Netherlands, were surprisingly inexpensive and close to our target range. I had to wait for B to get home from Australia, but the night she did, I launched a plan on her: we could fly to Amsterdam and ride the Eurail around the Netherlands and Belgium for Christmas! My good friend, G, spent some time in Bruges, Belgium, and spoke so highly of it that I have wanted to check it out for a while.
Strike while the iron is hot
From Boise, the round-trip ticket was 80,000 miles or 60,000 miles plus $350. Since jet lag got to B before I could convince her to buy another international trip, we put off buying tickets for a day until her cognitive processes returned to normal. Imagine my disappointment when the prices had gone up the very next day. We’ve been burned by this in the past (more than once actually) and usually strike while the iron is hot. But since we did not strike, we had some non-buyer’s remorse for not booking the tickets and went back to the drawing board.
Add the car rental or hotel
About a week later I was doing some research on how to maximize SkyMiles and travel around the holidays. I found an interesting blurb that said sometimes purchasing a car rental and/or hotel with a flight from Delta could save a lot of money. I’ve done this on Expedia and Orbitz before and it usually gives you some savings, but I’ve never saved that dramatically. However, I figured I’d might as well give it a try. And something incredible happened when I did…
Discovering Delta Vacation Package
To begin, I went to Delta’s website and put in our dates from Boise to Amsterdam and found tickets for $1,400 each, or around 120,000 SkyMiles. Not great. But then I went back to the homepage and clicked on the ‘Vacation Packages’ tab and selected a flight plus a rental car. When the price for the trip popped up at $1,450, I thought, well that’s about the same. But when I looked closer, I realized the price was $1,450 total, not per person. I then clicked through to the car rental screen and it looked similar to what I’ve seen on other sites; it showed the type of car and listed how much it would be to select that car.
Really, add the car!
However, I noticed something I’ve never seen before: some of the amounts listed next to the cars were negatives. Confused, I clicked on a mini car and saw our total price for the package go down by $100. By adding a car, we essentially cut our ticket prices in half! Plus, we got a car rental. (Enter mom’s voice.) We suspiciously decided to follow through with the booking process to see when the other shoe was going to drop…but it never did. So, after months of angst and stress, we got our Christmas holiday booked for about $675 each. This is, hand’s down, one of the cheapest deals to Europe I’ve seen out of Boise in at least a decade. We didn’t use our SkyMiles, but at that price, we would have been crazy to.
Tour package clause
The article I read said that by booking a hotel and car with the flight, the fares get bumped into a “tour package” category and that’s why they can be sold at a discounted price. I was curious if our Amsterdam package was just a fluke and tried some other hypothetical vacations. I found a flight + car from Boise to Paris in October for just about the same price as our screaming deal to Amsterdam. I then tried Boise to Berlin in September and the price came in around $1,700. However, when I tried Seattle to Oslo, the price jumped significantly–comparable to a plane ticket without the car. I should also mention that before we booked the Amsterdam package, I checked to see if there was a package for Bucharest. There wasn’t.
It doesn’t always work
It appears that there isn’t a real rhyme or reason for the car + flight deals, but it is DEFINITELY something you should look into if you and a +1 are going to a destination where you will fly in and out of the same airport. B and I talked about getting the flight + hotel in Amsterdam, which we would just leave on days we wanted to spend in other cities. Since we were planning on moving around, though, we opted for the car. One caveat the article I read did mention was that you can’t just not get the car or not check into the hotel. I don’t know what happens if you try to pull a fast one, but I don’t plan on trying it out.
I am still a little dubious about the deal we got. It has since showed up on both of our Delta Apps and my credit card was charged the amount we were quoted. So I suppose this is one of those times when it is good and it is true. Regardless, we will be spending Christmas in Bruges, Belgium, eating waffles and sipping hot chocolate. I can’t wait! If you are searching for tickets and are open to various destinations, take a look at the Delta Vacation Packages options. You could score something amazing, just like we did.
After a Jane Sees the World reader saw this post, she booked the same package as B and I for $60 less than what we paid. Score! There are deals to be had booking travel this way and if you are planning an adventure soon, this could be an economical option. Let us know if you landed a great deal!