There are quite a few websites where you can get great airline ticket prices online. Some of them include Expedia, Hotels.com, Kayak.com, Travelocity, and Priceline. Some of these sites may have slightly wider availability for certain airlines or airports, but for the most part, they offer deals that are within a few dollars of each other.
However, Priceline has one feature that sets it apart from the other sites – the “Name Your Own Price” option. You can use Priceline the same as these other sites and purchase tickets immediately, or you can save over 40% on your airline ticket by bidding on a lower ticket price by using the Name Your Own Price option. While saving 40% on your purchase sounds great, it may not be the best option for everyone. If you choose the Name Your Own Price option, you won’t know your airline or flight time until immediately after you make your purchase – and the tickets are non-refundable.
How to shop for discounted airline tickets with Priceline
Choose Your Flights and Times. The most commonly used option is choosing your flights and times. This option is basically the same as all the other discounted travel sites. You search for tickets based on the time and date and choose the option that best meets your need. It’s important to note that tickets purchased through Priceline and most other discount travel agencies are non-refundable and non-transferable, though you may be able to exchange them through the airline for a fee. Most flights purchased this way are eligible for frequent flier miles.
Name Your Own Price. This option can save you a lot of money, but you need to have flexible travel plans in order to take advantage of these offers. When you select this option, you choose the date and airport(s) you are willing to travel from. Then you enter a bid price (name your own price), enter your credit card information, and click submit. Once you do this you have made a binding offer on the ticket and if the bid is acceptable to the airline, they will sell you the ticket. The only issue is that you will not know which airline you are flying, flight times, or even the airport you are flying in and out of (if you selected multiple airport options) until after you buy the ticket. Priceline’s Name Your Own Price is only a good option if you have flexible travel plans!
Here is some more information from Priceline about Name Your Own Price:
- Flights and airlines shown immediately after purchase.
- Domestic flights are scheduled to depart anytime between 6am and 10pm unless your city pairs require off-peak travel.
- International flights can depart anytime on your travel dates.
- We always look for non-stop flights first, however, priceline flights may make up to one connection each way, unless otherwise specified.
- All tickets are non-refundable, non-cancelable and non-transferable.
- We will issue convenient electronic tickets whenever possible.
- Not eligible for frequent flier miles.
How to get the best airline deal with Priceline’s “Name Your Own Price”
Name Your Own Price won’t work for every trip, but it can save you money if you have the travel flexibility. Be sure to follow these tips to save money with Priceline:
Be flexible when you plan your trip. The Name Your Own Price feature doesn’t give you any say over what time of day you’ll be flying, the airline, or the airport if you select multiple options. The goal with this ticket option is to buy the cheapest ticket possible.
Check Priceline’s prices. First, determine the parameters. Enter the desired departure and arrival airport(s), desired departure and arrival times, and number of layovers (try limiting it to one or fewer). Use the Priceline price as a baseline for your search and your bid.
Check fares on the Internet or by calling the airlines. Some airlines offer special deals through their websites that the online discounters don’t have access to. You may be able to find a better deal there than with Priceline. If so, go ahead and reserve it, then try to beat it with Priceline’s Name Your Own Price feature. Most airlines will allow you to cancel your reservation within a certain amount of time at no cost. Note: Don’t go to these sites over and over and research the same round trip because their computers will pick up that someone wants to take that specific trip and that may trigger a price increase for a period of time. So just open as many tabs as you need.
Name Your Own Price at Priceline. Submit your bid at Priceline. Make sure it is below the price offered by the airlines and Priceline. Double check before submitting! Make sure you are satisfied with all the parameters and your bid price before you submit. You will be required to enter your credit card information when you submit your bid. If the price is acceptable Priceline will automatically purchase the ticket on your behalf. You should hear back from Priceline in about an hour or less. But while you hunt around, you may want to make a conventional reservation. You can always buy that ticket if your Priceline bid isn’t accepted.
Additional notes when using Name Your Own Price:
- Don’t submit unrealistic bids. Priceline may not allow you to submit a second bid for the same trip if you bid too low the first time. I usually start at a price around 50% and then increase it in $25 increments until it is accepted.
- Fees and taxes. Your bid price does not include fees or taxes, so your $250 bid may cost you almost $300 by the time you purchase the ticket (don’t worry, Priceline will give you an approximate total before you submit your bid). And don’t forget that some airlines charge for checked bags, so keep that in mind.
Use Name Your Own Price for other travel deals
You can also use Priceline’s Name Your Own Price feature for other travel deals including hotels, rental cars, cruises, vacation packages, tours, and more. I chose to use the airline example because I needed to buy an airline ticket this week. In many instances you can save 30-50% on your total bill. For more information about these deals, visit Priceline.
Name Your Own Price isn’t for everyone. I don’t recommend using it if you absolutely need to be somewhere at a given time. But if you have the flexibility in your travel schedule and want to save a lot of money, Name Your Own Price may be a good option.