As the internet expands to reach travelers in the most remote parts of the world, the traffic on the internet seems to increase exponentially. Many of the internet users are just browsing for information while the vast majority are looking for deals that will save them money.
One such activity that saves huge amounts of money is online bidding for travel packages including airfare hotel accommodation and car rentals. Although the website Priceline.com was the first to initiate the bidding contests for cheap tickets, more and more websites are joining the arena trying to get customers interested in purchasing what would otherwise be empty seats on an airline or empty cottages in a tourist town.
Although a lot of books seem to come out of the woodwork stating that they know all the “secrets to winning bids”, most of the information is available for users on the internet if they know where to find it. Here is the low-down on the sites where you can learn and practice the art of winning online bids.
Here are some tips from them:
- Before you start bidding, scan the major airlines (given below) for an approximate ticket price to the place you are planning to visit.
- You may bid up to 12:00 noon on the day of the flight. And the closer you get to the flight time, the easier it may be to get what you expect, although it is not a good strategy if you really have to be on that flight!
- After deciding on the actual price of the ticket that you can get online, decide on how much you would like to get the ticket for. This should be a reasonable amount depending on how eager you are to go on this trip.
- Bid on your own or use sites that help you such as BiddingforTravel.com, that can give you the best options and the best tips on presenting your bid.
- For cheapest rates, accept flights on any time of the day, multi-stop and also for flexible days.
- If the online bidding site returns with a counter offer, it is best to counter that by placing another bid that is not as high as the counter offer but closer to it than your original bid ( that is, bid slightly higher than your previous bid). Remember that the counteroffer may not include applicable taxes and fees.
- The website Lowestfare.com may not offer the lowest fare as prices could change every second. So the best option is to check all major airlines as well as bid Lowestfare.com and then bid on Priceline.com to see it they can get you the seat for a lower price.
- Again, as we all know, most major airlines come up with discounts and promotions that may beat any other price. Usually, however, if you see a low fare at an airline site of at Lowestfare.com, read through the restrictions and understand them. If the restrictions are not what you would normally expect when you fly and if you are not willing to accept some of them, then you cannot bid for that price anywhere else. You may be better off taking into consideration the restrictions (such as only on certain days of the week, non-jet options, timings etc) and be willing to bid higher to win the ticket. Moral –Do not compare apples and oranges – verify that you are expecting the lowest price for the same type of conveniences.
- To have many re-bidding opportunities, use multiple category options such as using alternate airports, alternate days, etc in the initial bid.
- If your flight is cancelled or delayed by more than 3 hours on a domestic itinerary, contact Priceline to reschedule you or refund your money.
- Priceline bought the alternate site Lowestfare.com in 2002 and may steer you to that site. When that happens, check all of the sites of the major airlines once again before bidding higher.
- Sometimes certain options were hidden from you in your first bid, but the response from Priceline rejecting your bid will allow you more options. So some users place ridiculously low initial bids that will be rejected so that they can then use the alternate path with lots of options to actually choose the valid bid. One way to get a free re-bid is to select the off-peak option after your domestic flight bid was rejected.
- When you bid fails or you get a counter offer from Priceline, choose the best option (if there are multiple offers) and then start the bidding anew. Every time Priceline rejects a bid, you get to bid again. Add to the bid in increments of $10 or $20 and see if they get continually rejected. Sometimes, it may be accepted.
These are the Airlines that are considered by Priceline to decide their inventory and pricing:
- America West
- Midwest Airlines
- US Airways
Participating international carriers:
- Aer Lingus
- Aerolineas Argentinas
- Air Canada
- Air France
- Air Jamaica
- Air New Zealand
- ANA All Nippon Airlines
- Austrian Airlines
- BWIA – British West Indian
- Cathay Pacific
- El Al – Israel Airlines
- Japan Airlines
- Korean Airlines
- SAS Scandinavian Airlines
- Singapore Airlines
- South African Airways
- Swiss International
- Turkish Airlines
- Varig Brazilian Airlines
- Virgin Atlantic
Sometimes Priceline.com in USA may not accept credit cards from people who are not US residents. In such a case, look to the Priceline or similar websites available in other countries such as UK, Germany, etc.
Overall, the best strategy is to be aware of all the current prices offered by major airlines in your preferred itinerary and then bid fairly lower at Priceline.com. Again, as we see, the more flexible we are, the easier it is to get a low fare. Getting a low fare may sometimes mean that we reach airports at odd hours, we may have to go without food and sleep in odd positions. If we are traveling with children, it is best to choose the shortest route and opt for more convenience. If there are only adults in the group and there are no special requirements, have flexible hours and a penchant for adventure, then its wise to save money by bidding and getting tickets at huge discounts. It’s almost always a trade-off between convenience and price.