By Ariana Arghandewal
Most people think of AARP as a senior-citizens’ organization. While AARP does market itself to people over 50, anyone can join regardless of age. That’s good, since AARP offers some substantial travel discounts. Whether you’re a frequent traveler or take one vacation a year, AARP’s travel discounts can dwarf the $16 annual fee.
Here are some of AARP’s best travel deals, and how to take advantage of them.
British Airways Discount: AARP’s most substantial discount by far is the British Airways airfare discount. Members who book round-trip airfare through a designated link get $65 off economy fares, $130 off premium economy, and $400 off business and first-class fares.
The real value here is the $400 premium cabin discount. You may not have $4,000-plus lying around for a first-class ticket, but occasionally British Airways and Virgin Atlantic get into a fare war that results in business-class fares from the West Coast to London going for as little as $1,800 round-trip. Since the AARP discount has no fare restrictions, it can be used to drop that price to $1,400.
Better yet, these fares aren’t relegated to the slow travel season, when nobody wants to fly across the pond to experience zero-degree weather. Just in the past few weeks, several airlines published $1,400 summer business-class fares between the West Coast and Europe. Back in September, British Airways offered business-class fares between several West Coast cities and Milan for $2,100. Tons of travel hackers utilized their AARP discounts to bring the fare down to $1,700. Not bad for a full flatbed seat on a 10-hour flight, better food and service, extra baggage allowances, and airport club-lounge access.
Hotel Discounts: On a week-long vacation, hotel expenses often exceed airfare costs, especially when you factor in things like breakfast and on-site amenities. Major hotel chains, including Hyatt, Hilton, Starwood, and Wyndham, have partnered with AARP to offer member discounts of 5 percent to 20 percent on standard hotel rates. These rates often include complimentary breakfast, waived resort fees, or a credit to be used at the property any way you want. Benefits vary by property, but the rate discounts are:
- Hyatt: 10 percent
- Hilton: 5 percent-10 percent
- Starwood: 5 percent-15 percent
- Wyndham: 20 percent
Rental Car: Budget, Avis and Payless offer AARP members significant discounts on rental cars. Avis is currently offering a flat $40 discount on select vehicle rentals of five days or more. Budget is more generous, with 30 percent off plus an additional $25 per rental. The Payless discount is paltry in comparison, at just 5 percent. However, in cases where Payless’ rates are substantially lower, the 5 percent discount is an added bonus.
Cruise Discounts: At just 5 percent, cruise discounts offered by Norwegian and Windstar aren’t AARP’s most substantial, although every bit of savings helps to stay within your travel budget. On a $1,000 cruise, that $50 saved can go towards souvenirs or perhaps a great restaurant at one of the ports. Windstar also throws in an extra 10 percent discount on onboard purchases, which can be applied towards spa treatments and other expenses not included in the cruise package.
Ariana Arghandewal is the creator of http://www.pointchaser.com, a fun and informative look at travel deals across the internet and around the world.
Photos from AARP.com, britishairways.com, and LATimes.com.