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A friend of mine had been researching air fares SFO-DEN for a trip in October. A few days ago, there was a fare of $170 (taxes included) on American, however it required a connection via LAX. He prefered a nonstop routing, however only United & Frontier fly the route, and were charging $310-330 for his travel dates.

So I started checking Priceline and stumbled on what I consider pretty valuable information. My friend initially wanted to depart 10/1. When I entered that date, Priceline indicated taxes of $33.40 (plus their $6.95 service fee) which meant a route with a connection. When I changed the date to 10/2, the taxes displayed were $20.20, which indicates a nonstop routing.

I'm of the opinion that Priceline searches for available inventory after the initial information you enter on the first screen, BEFORE you enter your offer price on the second screen, supply credit card information, etc. I believe the routing is predetermined after the first screen, and all Priceline does after you enter your offer price and credit card info is to verify your price meets theirs, and if it does, processes the credit card and e-tickets. This predetermination is the reason the taxes vary depending on the date of travel and airport selected.

After explaning this theory to my friend, he was ready to put it to the test. From his own computer, Priceline also displayed $20.20 in taxes for his 10/2-10/8 itinerary. He made a number of bids between $160 and $179...all declined. His bid was accepted at $180 and was assigned a nonstop flight both directions, consistant with the tax amount on his bid screen.

I myself had been researching air fares SFO-MCO for a trip in January. Just like the Denver experience, Priceline would display taxes of $18.70 for some dates (nonstop routing) and various other higher figures on other dates, indicating a connecting flight. I selected dates where $18.70 in taxes was displayed, and sure enough, was assigned the Bay Area's only nonstop flight to MCO, which is on United.

Since Priceline displays these taxes in detail BEFORE you commit with your credit card, I believe this is very valuable information with regards to whether you'll be assigned a nonstop or connecting flight. It's certainly made a believer out of me!

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Yup... that's how it works. Nice detective work!

Plans still need to be very flexible since the departure and arrival times are still unknown (unless the routing only has one or two non-stop flights). I think that their airline product would be much more successful if they were able to offer time windows rather than 'anytime from 6am-10pm' (or whatever their current terms stipulate).

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I know Priceline's airline product is often useless compared to booking conventionally, however this tax information determining nonstop vs connecting raises the bar quite a bit for me. In my friend's case, he had abandoned Denver for a leisure trip, not wanting to pay $300 conventionally. He's thrilled with saving $100 AND getting a nonstop routing.

In my situation, I knew exactly which flight I'd get in this thread as there is only one nonstop flight a day on the route!

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Should be... after you put in a price, doesn't is show a confirm screen with what you total will be? (and shows taxes on that page?)

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I've got a question about the way priceline calculates int'l taxes and fees on airline bids, and whether it tells you anything about availability.

I'm contemplating making a low bid for summer European travel, and when I enter in a city pair I usually get a "crazy" quote on the taxes and fees -- like over $200! This doesn't happen in all markets, but I searched 10 and it happened in 8. From my experience, taxes on flights from the US to Europe average + or - 100 bucks. Any idea why priceline's "taxes" are so high?

FWIW, I don't think this will be a successful strategy for me. I'm probably not willing to pay enough for my opaque flights -- I'll probably do better watching for some "crazy" unadvertised sale, or go off-season.

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What are some of your city pairs where you see taxes of $200+?

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What are some of your city pairs where you see taxes of $200+?

Like if I bid Houston-London for July 24-31 I get taxes and fees totalling $230.95! And as I said, many other transatlantic city pairs not involving Houston or London have similar "taxes."

My guess is this is telling us something about priceline's inventory, but I don't know enough about their airline "methods" to know what it is.

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I'd bet that this is a mistake, and i'd also bet an email to Priceline gets you a reply of "taxes and fees are shown to you before your purchase and are not included in your bid" <duh :) >

Wouldn't be the first time this happened, remember this HOTWIRE THREAD?

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This is excellent information - but how do you explain this:

Taxes on a flight from 8/28-8/31 (dates picked as an example) from:

lga to lax is 46.25 (I assume there is a stop)

jfk to lax is 25.85 (I assume there is no stop)

ewr to lax is 36.05 (I have no idea what to assume!)

Thanks in advance for any insights - we may fly to la at the end of the summer and it would be great to know ahead of time what type pf flight we might get if we use priceline!

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Look at the non-stop taxes for each of the above routes (ie- taxes are different between flying from EWR-LAX vs. JFK-LAX vs. LGA-LAX)

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You are correct that the JFK to LAX taxes of $25.85 indicate a nonstop routing. The breakdown of these taxes is as follows:

$7.50 Passenger Facility Charge (LAX charges $4.50 , JFK $3.00)

$5.00 Sept 11 Security Fee ($2.50 each way)

$6.40 US Flight Segment Tax ($3.20 per segment)

$6.95 Priceline Service Fee

$25.85 total taxes/fees

The other itineraries with higher taxes/fees indicate connecting flights. For instance, a flight with one connection each way will double the $6.40 US Flight segment tax to $12.80.

Most all US airports charge either a $3.00 or $4.50 Passenger Facility charge. A few "hub" cities do not, however. Among them are Houston & Charlotte. So an itinerary with a connecting flight will result in lower overall taxes/fees if routed via Houston vs Chicago O'Hare, for example. Since Continental is the dominant carrier in Newark, it's quite possible your example above would have involved a plane change in Houston, thus the lower tax amount than the flight from LGA.

I use the ITA Beta Software site to quickly calculate taxes for each routing.

ITA Beta Software

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Hi,

I tried the Tax & Fees trick on an international flight. I changed the dates a couple of times, even very drastically (moved them a couple of months off), but the Taxes & Fees no not change at all.

Is the trick still valid?

Thanks.

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I don't think the part of taxes/fees is still valid as it appears that Priceline's NYOP feature now includes taxes and fees. If I bid $500 for ZHR to MSP, the total price is $500, including airline taxes & fees.

I have however, observed that when inputing airport to airport the priceline fee is higher ($14.95) than if I input cities (Zurich to Eagan, Minnesota) and then chose the airports (ZRH and MSP) the fee is only $7.95. Can't figure out why that is.

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I don't think the part of taxes/fees is still valid as it appears that Priceline's NYOP feature now includes taxes and fees. If I bid $500 for ZHR to MSP, the total price is $500, including airline taxes & fees.

Taxes/fees are included on international NYOP bids, however they are still added to your bid price on domestic tickets. Also, Priceline quotes the maximum taxes/fees for your itinerary when you submit a bid. If your bid is accepted, often times the taxes and fees will wind up being less than they originally quoted in your bid submission if the itinerary is nonstop, travels through airports with less or no PFC fees, etc.

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Also, Priceline quotes the maximum taxes/fees for your itinerary when you submit a bid. If your bid is accepted, often times the taxes and fees will wind up being less than they originally quoted in your bid submission if the itinerary is nonstop, travels through airports with less or no PFC fees, etc.

Wait, so does this negate the earlier mentioned technique to determine if your routing will be non-stop or connecting?

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Wait, so does this negate the earlier mentioned technique to determine if your routing will be non-stop or connecting?

If bidding for domestic itineraries, you can still determine non-stop vs connecting. The "trick" in your initial bid is to low-ball enough that your bid won't be accepted and you receive a counteroffer in return. As you formulate your initial bid, Priceline will require you to agree to be charged the maximum amount of Gov't taxes/airline and agent fees (Priceline being the "agent" in this case)before submitting your bid. At this stage, Priceline's computer hasn't yet searched for an airline (and routing) that will accept your bid, thus their quoting the maximum amount of taxes/fees initially. When the counteroffer arrives, the actual taxes/fees, based on the routing to be assigned, will be broken down and separate the fare from the taxes/fees. At this point, the actual routing has been determined by Priceline's computer unlike when you were formulating your initial bid before submission.

I put this to the test by bidding a one-way flight from SFO to MIA for tomorrow, August 1. During the bid formulation stage, Priceline required me to agree to taxes/fees of $39.85. As expected, my $10 bid (plus $39.85) was rejected. However I received 3 counteroffers as follows:

1. $266.30 if I was willing to fly SFO-FLL (instead of to MIA). The breakdown was $248.05 for the fare and $18.25 in taxes/fees.

2. $307.68 if I was willing to fly SJC-MIA. Breakdown of $278.63 fare and $29.05 taxes/fees

3. $338.71 for SFO-MIA (my initial choice of airports). Breakdown of $278.63 fare and $29.05 taxes/fees.

Notice the taxes/fees in all 3 counteroffers were lower than the $39.85 Priceline initially required me to authorize. (this is the reason you low-ball your initial bid so as to review the counteroffers in order to see the actual taxes/fees) and determine non-stop vs. connecting)

The first counteroffer from SFO-FLL w/$18.25 in taxes/fees indicates a non-stop routing. This breaks down as follows:

$2.50 Sept 11 security fee

$4.50 SFO Passenger Facility Charge (PFC)

$3.80 US Flight Segment tax

$7.45 Priceline transation fee ("Agent" fees).

$18.25 total

The second and third counteroffers w/$29.05 in taxes/fees indicates a connecting itinerary with the following breakdown:

$5.00 Sept 11 security fee ($2.50 per flight segment)

$9.00 PFC ($4.50 SFO and $4.50 at the connecting airport)

$7.60 US Flight Segment tax

$7.45 Priceline transaction fee

$29.05 total

So if we agree the SFO-FLL itinerary will be a one-segment non-stop flight, the irony in this specific scenario is that you'll also know the exact flight you'll be assigned. There are a total of 3 nonstop flights tomorrow between SFO and FLL. A redeye on each Virgin America and JetBlue and one daylight flight on Virgin. In my initial bid, Priceline said I could depart anytime between 6:00am and 10:00pm, however said I would arrive at my destination no later than 12:30am, thus eliminating the chance of being assigned a red-eye. That only leaves one possible flight, the 7:50am nonstop flight on Virgin America. Of course if you're bidding a route that has multiple non-stop flights you won't be able to break it down that close! But this worked for me a few years ago when bidding SFO-MCO (Orlando) when at that time there was only 1 nonstop flight between the two airports. Worked like a charm...

A few things to keep in mind.....

1. Unlike rebidding for hotels, where the number of free rebids are limited by surronding zones and star levels offered, you can enter unlimited airfare bids by entering a different origin city each time. By origin city I don't mean your departure airport. For the SFO-MIA bid, enter any surrouding city/town nearby SFO, such as San Mateo, for example as your origin city. On the next page, Priceline will ask to you select a departure airport (SFO, OAK, SJC). Assuming your initial bid is rejected, go back to the Priceline home page and this time enter Burlingame (another SFO-area town) as your origin city. Priceline will not consider your two bids as duplicates since you entered two different cities as your origin, despite the fact you selected the same airport (SFO) to depart from.

2. Again, unlike hotel counteroffers that appear sporadically, almost any rejected airline bid will produce a counteroffer. Let's just say I've never not received a counteroffer on any air fare bid. In the event no airline has any NYOP inventory available on your routing and travel date, Priceline will respond with retail purchase options.

3. This time like hotel counteroffers, Priceline will generally accept less than the counteroffer amount in air fare bids.

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Like if I bid Houston-London for July 24-31 I get taxes and fees totalling $230.95! And as I said, many other transatlantic city pairs not involving Houston or London have similar "taxes."

My guess is this is telling us something about priceline's inventory, but I don't know enough about their airline "methods" to know what it is.

UK departure taxes are unbelievably high. Even if you're just connecting through London. I believe they are over $100. Actually, such high fees might be a good way to determine that one is in fact connecting through Heathrow.

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