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I recently tried Priceline.com bidding, but I got no result, meaning they were not able to get the ticket for the price I bid.

In the end, after adjusting the parameters (price/airport) several times, I got the feeling that they simply search and try to find a route that may match your price. You could do it yourself using the search.

Has anyone had success getting prices actually under the standard search prices for the same day and route given in Priceline? How does it really work?

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    Priceline depends on an airline having empty seats and wanting to fill them at a discount. There are not many empty seats these days. I haven't tried to Priceline a flight in years, but it can still get you deals on hotels. – choster Mar 28 '16 at 15:10
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    For hotels on Priceline, there are forums devoted to revealing the hidden hotels and providing guidance on bidding strategy. – Zach Lipton Mar 28 '16 at 15:59
  • Although it's not really a duplicate, it would be worth reading the answer to this question - travel.stackexchange.com/questions/7943/… – Doc Apr 17 '16 at 14:52
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+50

I found a a link with useful experiences of doing this: http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/online-travel-booking-bidding-agencies/1170662-bidding-air-tickets-priceline.html I won't summarise since the links is 5 years old. However, it did encourage me to try a few experiments myself.

I have a US gift card with a few dollars on it so could use that to make some bids:

Bid 1: July 2 - July 9 JFK-SFO. I Bid $100
I was offered $444 for LGA-SFO
I was offered $467 for JFK-SFO

On skyscanner I could find $455 for JFK-SFO which beats the second offer and the first offer has no timings. I'd prefer the transparent $455 personally.

Bid 2: June 4 - June 5 SFO-SAN. I Bid $100
I was Offered $188 for SFO-SAN but for June 4 - 6
Best price on skyscanner I could find was $380
Best price on Spirit was $333
I was also Offered $270 for the original bid dates of June 4-5
Best I could find on skyscanner was $380
Spirit had no return flight on the 5th

Bid 3: London - Rome 4-5 June Bid $40 Told I would receive an email. Email said bid unsuccessful

Bid 4: SFO-CLT one way June 4 Bid $120
Told I would receive an email. Email said bid unsuccessful

Bid 5: BOS-ORD June 11 one/way Bid $145
Told I would receive an email. Email said bid unsuccessful

After several bids it seems likely that any new unaccepted bids will not receive a counter offer. I checked the flights for LON-BDA on skyscanner and got a cheapest price of $1250. I put a bid in (bid 6) for $850 and received the rejection email without a counter offer.

Summary: I suspect priceline wants to discourage many low bids as a way of gaming the system. I did get one good offer that was $200 lower than any other price I could find, so I don't think priceline NYOB is a con. That result aligns with the experiences in my first link.

Note that you won't get any of the frequent flier benefits such as miles or potential upgrades if you would otherwise have been eligible.

I imagine that if you are flexible priceline NYOB is well worth a go. My strategy would be to research the best available prices and then put in an offer somewhat lower than the best offer found to see if a counter offer is supplied. I believe that the odds of being given a counter offer will diminish rapidly with multiple attempts.

  • when you write "offered", do you mean "I offered" or "I was offered"? – Vince Jun 1 '16 at 10:08
  • I was offered. will clarify – Berwyn Jun 1 '16 at 10:08
  • @Berwyn, +1, but could you also clarify the second example please? I think I get it after reading thrice but not even 100% sure. Great research! – mts Jun 1 '16 at 10:27
  • Edited. Is that clearer? Cheers! – Berwyn Jun 1 '16 at 10:34

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