This week’s airline and hotel changes make last week’s Europe trip 26% more expensive

This past week I had a wonderful time in Europe on a very cheap, quickly planned trip to Europe when I saw opportunistic travel deals for January. My $800 trip last week, assuming same flights and hotels, would cost more than $1,000 this week, simply due to two airline and hotel rules changes. Two of three big travel discounts I used for cheap travel have been eliminated in the past four days.

I flew from San Francisco to Copenhagen for $69 one-way on WOW Airlines with two small carry-on bags, had a section of seats to myself and paid no additional fees. Today WOW allows only one free small carry-on bag. Deal Gone.

I stayed 4 nights at Club Carlson hotels on Gold elite member 2-for-1 rates paying an average of $42 per night in Prague, Czech Republic and Wroclaw, Poland. On Monday, Club Carlson eliminated these hotel rate discounts. Deal Gone.

I flew home to California yesterday, Stockholm to Oakland on Norwegian Airlines for $111 all-in, with same two carry-on bags and a section of seats to myself. Still available, but $135 low fare now.

Czech Airlines from Copenhagen to Prague cost $62 and Norwegian Krakow, Poland to Stockholm ticket cost $17. I paid no additional fees for bags or seat assignments. Technically, I should have been charged for a second carry-on bag based on new rules implemented this month with Czech Airlines. The gate agent allowed me to take my second bag free when I showed her they contained my winter boots.

I traveled by bus from Prague to Wroclaw, Poland for $15 and Wroclaw to Krakow, Poland for $5.

In Prague, I withdrew 2,000 CZK ($80) from an ATM, but only spent 1,300 CZK ($52) in three days. In Poland, I withdrew 600 PLN ($150), but only spent 200 PLN ($50) in four days. I will be back in Poland in 3 weeks and the US Dollar is plummeting in value against Polish zloty (down 2% since last week), so the 400 PLN in bank notes will come in handy next month, assuming our USD does not recover from its 6% decline in past six weeks.

My cash paid for ground transportation, an average two restaurant meals each day and 5 or 6 pints of beer each day in Prague and Poland. Airport bus transportation in Prague cost $1.25. Airport train transportation in Krakow cost $2.

Copenhagen, Denmark, Malmo and Stockholm, Sweden are about 3x to 6x food, drink and transportation prices of Prague, Wroclaw and Krakow. Airport transportation for Copenhagen Airport to Malmo, Sweden cost about $24 round trip and Flygbussarna bus for Stockholm Arlanda to city cost about $24 round trip. I spent around $10 for a grocery store meal in Malmo and about $35 for grocery store food and beer in Stockholm for dinner and the Norwegian flight home to California yesterday.

8 days in Copenhagen, Malmo, Prague, Wroclaw, Krakow and Stockholm travel expenses:

  • $260 airline tickets.
  • $26 train tickets.
  • $46 bus tickets.
  • $150 food and beer for 8 days.

$482 for all expenses, except hotels.

$350 spend for 7 Hotel Nights with approximately $275 in rebate value in hotel loyalty points and gift card cash.

1 night: Clarion Collection Hotel Temperance Malmo Sweden = 8,000 Choice Privileges points ($36 my cost to buy points during 2016 Daily Getaways).

2 nights: Park Inn Prague $87 (Club Carlson 2-for-1 Gold elite member rate)

2 nights: Radisson Blu Wroclaw $82 (Club Carlson 2-for-1 Gold elite member rate) (4 hotel nights earn 20,000 Club Carlson bonus points and next month I will earn additional 30,000 bonus points after 8 nights).

1 night: Holiday Inn Krakow $100 (IHG Bonus points rate) Room stay earns $75 Mastercard rebate and additional 20,000 bonus points with my IHG Rewards Club Accelerate 2017 offer.

1 night Clarion Hotel Sign, Stockholm = 10,000 Choice Privileges points ($45 my cost to buy points during 2016 Daily Getaways).

Total Cost for 9 day Europe Trip = $832

Rebate Value on Hotel Stays = $275

  • 25,000 Club Carlson points (about $100)
  • 20,000 IHG Rewards Club points (about $100)
  • $75 Mastercard gift card.


Don’t Procrastinate on good travel deals.

What a difference four days makes!

Last week I thought I would be home in California this week to write up my expenses as an example of how inexpensively a person can travel to Europe using opportunistic travel deals.

However, since Monday, January 31 two of the deals I used to travel this past week and planned to highlight for travelers this week have been eliminated.

Club Carlson 2-for-1 and 4-for 2 hotel rate discounts gone.

Club Carlson eliminated their 2-for-1 and 4-for-2 Gold elite member hotel rate discounts on Monday, January 31, 2017 after having these deals around for several years. Looking back at my archives, I was writing about these 2-for-1 rates since 2012.

I am fortunate I already booked several stays using these Club Carlson discount rates. They can be canceled without penalty, so I have many 2-for-1 and 4-for-2 reservations booked for February, March and July trips to Europe.

WOW Airlines second small personal bag carry-on for free benefit gone.

And now, today, it looks like WOW Air has again changed their carry-on bag policy. Only one small bag, 17” x 13” x 10”, up to 22 lb., is allowed as a free carry-on bag. Since last August, and until today, passengers were also allowed a second smaller carry-on bag, 17” x 8” x 8” for free.

I traveled last week using the two free carry-on bags for my $69 WOW ticket trip SFO to Copenhagen.

WOW packed

WOW Air SFO to Copenhagen $69 my best low fare deal to Europe ever (Jan 25, 2017).

I can now travel only with my small backpack or pay $51 to travel with a larger paid carry-on bag.

My same trip from last week with the new carry-on rules for WOW Airlines and the elimination of Club Carlson 2-for-1 rates would cost an additional $51 for WOW and $169 for Club Carlson hotel rates for an additional $220 in trip expenses.

My 9-day trip to Denmark, Czech Republic, Poland and Sweden cost $832 last week. The same trip under these new rules would be $1,052 for a 26% increase in trip price.

Great deals don’t last, which is why you should take advantage of discount opportunities while they are around.

About Ric Garrido

Ric Garrido of Monterey, California started Loyalty Traveler in 2006 for traveler education on hotel and air travel, primarily using frequent flyer and frequent guest loyalty programs for bargain travel. Loyalty Traveler joined BoardingArea.com in 2008.

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  1. “The gate agent allowed me to take my second bag free when I showed her they contained my winter boots”

    Looks like you’ve cracked the code to getting luggage on board for free! 🙂

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