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Does Priceline's 'Name Your Own Price' Actually Work for Airfares?

April 18, 2013 at 11:30 AM | by | ()

"Name Your Own Price." What a tempting offer, and it's one the Priceline travel booking website offers to anyone who's game. We're game. Name our own price for a hotel? Do it all the time. Name our own price for a rental car? Sure. But name our own price for a flight? Stressful!

So we tried it out.

Deciding to name your own price means you must be flexible in two very important areas: airline and flight times. Priceline will allow you to secure flights on exact dates, with exact airports of your choice, but you've got to let them take care of everything else if you're to get a sweet deal. Luckily for us, we weren't going to be picky on a last-minute itinerary for fun.

So here's what happened.

We needed same-week tickets from the New York City area to Memphis, TN. The "Name Your Own Price" engine clue us in on the fact that leaving from LaGuardia or Newark Airports (as much as we loathe the latter) will be cheapest. We input the dates we want for our roundtrip flights and select airports.

Before naming our own price, searching flights revealed that the cheapest flight combinations for our dates would be over $470 and require either two layovers or really inconvenient flight times. Yuck. The best flight combination (a nonstop on United) is over $800 roundtrip. No thanks. So then...

· We consider bidding $400 to increase the chance of actually getting a hit
· Decide to be daring and cut our bid to $300 instead and submit.
· William Shatner does his negotiating magic and—voila—our bid is accepted!
· The itinerary we score for $300 (plus tax, to total just under $350) is a far better one than any we would have booked from the listed airfares, and for nearly half the price.
· The flights are on Delta, at convenient times, with one layover, and our frequent flyer status means we can score the Economy Comfort seats for free. Sweet.
· We're on the plane and typing this right now, so the reservation is good.

There are many hints to help in the bidding, like the travel details bar (see at right), which helps estimate what flights you may end up with. That thankfully cuts the stress, but the surprise of it all is part of the fun. Or so we say after having a pleasant experience using the Name Your Own Price tool.

Oh, by the way. This post is in no way affiliated with or sponsored by Priceline. We're just passing on a great experience in the world of booking airfares, a world that's increasingly convoluted and confusing. Just remember—be flexible.

[Images: screenshots]

Archived Comments:

Lost on priceline.com

Hi there, I have a silly question, let's say I want to fly from new york to toronto from the 21st to 26th return, will I return back to new york?