For any of my friends with European wanderlust, I tell them to join AARP. That’s right- Laura and I are card-carrying members of the American Association for Retired People. Aside from getting interesting newsletters about Medicare- we get a benefit that blows all other travel benefits out of the water, at least for us. And here’s the thing: Everyone always thinks you have to be of a certain age to join AARP but the reality is that anyone can sign up for membership. It’s $16 a year, and it might just save you $800 off your next flight across the pond! How? 

We’ve been the lucky recipients of a great benefit provided exclusively to AARP members: Discounts on flights marketed by British Airways. British Airways offers AARP members $65 off economy tickets, $130 off premium economy, and $400 off business and first class tickets. At the moment, it’s got an end date on this offer though: You’ve got to book by October 31, 2015 and fly by March 31, 2016 to get this great benefit. It might got renewed, but for now, if you’ve got travel hopes from now until March 31st, it’s a great deal!

Update: Via One Mile at a Time, it looks like this AARP discount might be extended through March 31, 2017! Awesome news!

But here’s the crazy thing: British Airways is having an  INSANE two-day business class airfare sale that ends tonight. I’m talking business class from many cities in the United States to Europe for $2,015. And while that alone isn’t a bad price, there’s a chance to really get these tickets for under $1,000 out-of-pocket.

Consider the following:

The total cost is $2015 after taxes and fees, but folks are finding some airfare for even lower than that. I decided to explore the possibilities and plugged in a variety of European destinations: Barcelona, Glasgow, Lisbon, and London. All came back with pretty ample availability and a cross-section of OneWorld carriers. You could fly British Airways A380 business class. Check out American Airlines 777-300, or try out Iberia (nothing really exciting to say on that one).

AARP discount

With the $400 discount from AARP, the total price of tickets become $1615 a person. NOT BAD AT ALL. But wait, cue infomercial, there’s more!

British Airways AARP

Using Avios to lower it even more

They’re also offering an insane deal right now where you can use Avios to get a further discount. If you’re the lucky owner of any Ultimate Rewards credit cards like The Chase Sapphire Preferred or American Express Membership Rewards cards such as the no annual fee Amex Everyday, you can transfer the points you’ve acquired, in most cases INSTANTLY, to British Airways.

The current redemption rate is about 2.5 cents per point, a great deal! And if you have 60,000 avios, that would get you $1535 off your booking! You can see the other savings opportunities below.

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Now reports are that it has been funky here and there, but I tried to look at what it would cost for our family to jump on this deal. I’m talking two adults and an infant. Most people presume lap children fly free, but that’s domestic only for most airlines. After that, it gets really complicated. But British Airways is great because they’re straight forward: The cost of an infant is 10% of what the adult pays, be that in cash or points. Great!

So how much would it cost two adults and a lap child to fly in business class to Europe and back? After applying the AARP discount and the 60,000 avios discount, the cost came out to a pretty reasonable:

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To break that down even further:

The out of pocket cost per adult would be $1024.30. The cost for infant would be $197.99.

Earning some of that money back

Here’s the crazy thing though: There’s a way to earn a large amount of miles on this trip, so the cost to you is even less. Let’s play with the Barcelona route.

If you credited an LAX-Barcelona flight connecting through London to your American Airlines account, these are the miles you’d earn:

~12,000 base miles roundtrip. 

~3,000 class of service bonus because you earn extra miles from AA when flying business class.

~12,000  elite bonus miles if you are platinum or above or ~3,000 miles if you’re gold.

So worst case you earn 15k, best case you’ve earned 27,000 miles.

And yet, shockingly, there’s more! If you fly by January 31, 2016 on this deal, you’ll earn a bonus 25,000 miles. And you can do that five times, to earn up to 125,000 miles. The full details are here. 

And so now let’s look at our new worst/best case for earning miles:

40,000 miles earned if you fly by January 31, 2016, or 52,000 miles if you happen to be platinum or executive platinum.

That’s a deal!

So if you’ve got yearnings for Europe, look today.

– The $2,015 a ticket sale is good for travel through August 31, 2016.

-To use the AARP discount, you need to fly by March 31, 2016.

-To get the insane amount of bonus miles, you need to fly by January 31, 2016.

So don’t make your dreams of retirement wait. Sign up for AARP, Europe awaits!

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