PL Bids v PL Counteroffers v Hotwire v airfare.com

By nn2g2bt,

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In general, what's important to focus on when comparing various airfare choices, which are like apples and oranges (i.e., making bids for airfare, versus considering semi-blind counteroffers and Hotwire-type offers, versus considering various other discounted fares, at websites like cheaptickets.com, airfare.com and studentuniverse.com)?

The specifics are that I'm currently trying to decide how high to bid at Priceline (PL) for 2 NYC-LON seats, leaving 5/28/03 (or 5/27), and returning ~6/18/03.

On that route, there are several competing non-stop flights every day, so I've been trying to quantify the risk of winning a blind PL bid (and/or the risk of buying a blind Hotwire itinerary) which could certainly include connecting flights -- maybe even both ways.

Up to this point, I've been bidding up to about $320 (including all taxes and fees) for each seat, which is about $50-$60 less per RT ticket than the non-stop fares available at cheaptickets.com and airfare.com -- and in a few of PL's non-stop counteroffers (as deduced from their taxes and fees).

Being new at all this, I'm also wondering if there are any special caveats about buying from cheaptickets and/or airfare.com. For example, do they sell "consolidator's" tickets, which might have some different restrictions than the PL or Hotwire tickets?

I'd sure appreciate some feedback -- :)


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I forgot to mention that cheaptickets.com also has a non-stop Air India itinerary available, for a total of $350 each (after shipping paper tickets).

Does anyone know much about Air India? They fly 747-400's on that route, but their pilots went on strike a few weeks ago re: SARS concerns??? :)

Thanks again.

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Hi, I saw your posts on the other board. I actually thought they were quite interesting. Let me start by saying I don't know much about Priceline airfare bidding so I thought it was interesting how you were getting all those apparently randon-number counteroffers.

But as for Air India, I wouldn't worry about SARS. You're just as likely to get a SARS-infected seatmate on any carrier, I would say. The Air India pilots were worried about travelling back and forth between destinations that had been hit by SARS. So they went on strike, but other pilots on other airlines that were also travelling to the Far East had just as much reason to do the same even though they didn't. The route you are travelling does not include any SARS hotspots, as far as I can tell.

As for restrictions, it would be hard to get anything more restricted than a Priceline or Hotwire airline ticket, given it's totally nonrefundable and nonchangeable. But maybe there is something I am overlooking.

Edit: Does it make a difference to you whether you get Gatwick or Heathrow? Have you factored in the cost of ground transportation from each point? There are obviously different-cost options available, but have you decided which one you would use? As far as I can tell, the tube is cheapest from Heathrow, and South Central Trains are cheapest from Gatwick. But maybe you prefer other options. The same applies to the NYC airports, but I don't know much about which would be easiest.

More edits :) : I thought about this for a bit, and I realized that even though I am most definitely a cheapskate, I'd pay the extra $50-60 for a nonstop without question. With Hotwire, you can get up to an 18-hour layover for international flights (I wrote them to ask). With Priceline, I think it's up to 5 hours for a European flight, but I'm not sure.

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Thanks much, WillTravel, for your thoughtful reply (and each additional edit, too)!

I'm actually shopping for my 22 year old son and a friend, and I doubt that they've checked into LGW vs LHR -- I think that the trains to/from LHR are a little bit cheaper, and since most of the lowest non-stop fares I've found are going to LHR anyway, I guess I'll just leave well-enough alone (at least for now).

Even putting SARS aside, I'm afraid that my son and his friend may be spooked about traveling on Air India, just because it's not very well known. (As I understand it, Air India is not sold through PL or Hotwire, but please correct me if I'm wrong.)

Buying 2 tickets, I generally like to compare airfare options with regard to the total savings, so I'm now considering raising my PL Bids (including ALL taxes and fees) from $320 up to about $340 for each ticket -- because the total savings (vs. that $381.60 non-stop United itinerary at airfare.com) would still be ~$80, and we'd still have SOME chance of getting a non-stop flight (or 2!).

The leader of that other Board seems to have some reservations about purchasing through airfare.com, which is suspiciously selling those non-stop United tickets for about $20 less than everyone else.

Can anybody here vouch for airfare.com?

(Please! -- No CROWDING! -- LOL)

Thanks again.

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As far as I can tell, Air India isn't a Priceline partner. But I'm not sure how the codeshare issue works, and I know Air India does codeshare on other routes with Priceline partners (edit: but I don't know if you can get those routes on Priceline!)

I can't say for sure what the situation is with airfare.com. But I know lots of times on other sites when you actually follow the screens through and try to book the fare, you get some code that it's not allowed, for whatever reason. So it's possible it might look like you have that fare, but when you actually try to buy it, you can't. That can be very frustrating, and lead to inaccurate decisions. Have you tried taking the fares just up to the point where you would put in your credit card number?

Also, check out http://www.itasoftware.com. You can't book from there, but you can see lots of itineraries at the lowest prices at a glance.

This is turning into a gripping drama :).

Edit: Check out flights.com also. That often seems to have the best deals, and they do seem to be bookable.

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Also, if you would like more information on Air India, including some detailed descriptions of flights on that airline, go to:


Click on FlyerTalk Miles, then FlyerTalk Trip Reports, and then use the Search function (toward the top right of the screen) to search for Air India.

You will be able to find some first hand accounts of Air India flights!

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Great responses, People!

Thank you ALL very much.

This gripping drama about airfares (:)) just came to an end about 35 mins ago.

It turns out that my son and his friend stumbled into an open-jaw itinerary through a Travel Agent that they're friends with at statravel.com, so they ended up paying a total of $435.80 for non-stop American Airlines flights from JFK-LHR and then from CDG-JFK.

That's about $55 more than the $381.60 non-stop United fare (at airfare.com), but they figure that the open-jaw will save them both the time and the $$ that they would have otherwise spent backtracking (to go home from LHR).

BTW, the $350 Air India non-stop fare went up to about $395 late this afternoon at cheaptickets.com, but it simultaneously reappeared at their sister site (studentuniverse.com) at the same $350 fare -- except now it's only for students and faculty.

Thanks so much, everybody --

I like it here, so I'll probably be back often! -- :) --


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Every winter I do this open-jaw thing, buying SFO-LHR and return from CDG on United (non-stops). With no exception, the fare for that is lower than a roundtrip SFO-LHR-SFO and much lower than SFO-CDG-SFO. It's very curious.

Use BMI for LHR-CDG. This last winter it was only

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