NORWALK, Conn., April 14 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Summer airfare deals are out there, but finding them this year will take a little more homework, planning and creativity, according to the head of priceline.com's (Nasdaq: PCLN) airline ticketing service.
"Airline capacity and routes flown are still down compared to recent years," said Mark Koehler, Priceline's Senior Vice President, Air. "We haven't experienced the widespread, aggressive airfare sales seen a year ago. In general, travelers will find that summer airfares could be as much as 25% more expensive than last year, on average, and that's before factoring in extra fees for baggage, pillows, food and such. Travelers who want to save on air travel will need to plan ahead, be flexible and try different approaches to booking their trips."
Priceline.com was the first major online travel agency to eliminate booking fees on its published price domestic and international airline tickets. Priceline's airline tickets service www.priceline.com/flights/ offers a full suite of features to help travelers save money on airfare. Entering travel dates and airports will generate an easy to follow grid of airlines and fares. Searches can be modified to look for alternative airports, travel dates and times. Priceline's Inside Track www.priceline.com/insidetrack includes a Best Days To Fly calendar, a Price Drop e-mail notifier and a special section that shows typical savings, connections and flight times for Priceline's Name Your Own Price® airline ticketing service.
Name Your Own Price® continues to be a good choice for last-minute travelers who can't find an affordable fare. "Despite the decrease in capacity, airlines are still flying with some empty seats, especially during off-peak travel days and times," said Koehler. "Travelers are having success with last-minute priceline.com airline ticket bids that are up to 50% below the published fares. The deals are there. The key to finding the best deals is using Priceline's fare search tools to find the off-peak days and times where the bargains are likely to be."
Koehler, an airline industry veteran and United Airlines alumnus, offered his personal tips for trimming the cost of a summer air trip:
- Pack with a plan (and other ways to cut down on extra fees). Paying for each piece of baggage means that every item should be scrutinized during packing to be sure it will be worn or used on the trip ahead. If not, leave it behind. Some airlines are now charging for larger carry-ons. Travelers bringing a laptop should be careful not to use too large a case or stuff it too full – otherwise, the airline may charge a fee. Shipping certain items ahead may be cheaper than paying the baggage fee. Travel with a sweater that can double as a blanket or be folded into a pillow. Have a meal or a snack before getting onto the plane.
- Be open to trying different airlines and airports. Summer fares are likely to vary quite a bit from airline to airline. For example, a late-June round-trip flight from Boston to San Francisco returned fares ranging from $453 to $548 depending on the airline and flight times. Also, if multiple airports are within range, check the fares to and from all of them. A late June trip from San Francisco to the Washington, DC, area cost $414 flying into Reagan International and $403 flying into Dulles.
- Try alternative travel days. Fares do go up or down depending on travel days selected. It's just as true now as it is during the end-of-year holidays. Priceline's popular Best Days To Fly calendar shows what happens to fares depending on travel dates selected.
- Pick times of the day that are normally less busy. Time of day is important. Travelers will find the most affordable seats departing early in the morning (5-7 a.m.) or late evening (after 8 p.m.). Mid-day (11 a.m. – 4 p.m.) is a bit more expensive, but still reasonable. Most expensive are the peak business travel hours (8-10 a.m. and 5-7 p.m.).
- Use priceline.com's Name Your Own Price® airline tickets service. Travelers can save up to 50% on last-minute airline tickets by using priceline.com's Name Your Own Price® ticketing service. It's easy. Just choose the travel dates, airports and price. You'll know instantly if your bid is accepted. With priceline.com's Name Your Own Price airline tickets service, travelers must agree to fly anytime between 6:00 a.m. and 10:00 p.m. on whatever major airline accepts their offer. There may be up to one connection each way.
- Need a rental car or hotel room with that ticket? Travelers using priceline.com's published-price and Name Your Own Price airline tickets service can now add a rental car with a few mouse clicks. In addition to not charging booking fees for its published-price airline tickets, Priceline.com doesn't charge booking fees for its published-price rental cars. And here's another tip – customers may find they can get a Name Your Own Price airfare/rental car combo for less than the price of a published-price airline ticket.
About Priceline.com® Incorporated
Priceline.com Incorporated (Nasdaq: PCLN) www.priceline.com provides online travel services in 32 languages in over 90 countries in Europe, North America, Asia, the Middle East and Africa. Included in the priceline.com family of companies is Booking.com, a leading international online hotel reservation service, priceline.com, a leading U.S. online travel service for value-conscious leisure travelers, and Agoda.com, an Asian online hotel reservation service.
Priceline.com believes that Booking.com is Europe's largest and fastest growing hotel reservation service, with a network of affiliated Web sites. Booking.com operates in over 76 countries in 25 languages and offers its customers access to approximately 78,000 participating hotels worldwide.
In the U.S., priceline.com gives customers more ways to save on their airline tickets, hotel rooms, rental cars, vacation packages and cruises than any other Internet travel service. In addition to getting great published prices, leisure travelers can narrow their searches using priceline.com's TripFilter advanced search technology, customize their search activity through priceline.com's Inside Track features, create packages to save even more money, and take advantage of priceline.com's famous Name Your Own Price® service, which can deliver the lowest prices available. Priceline.com operates the following travel websites: Travelweb.com, Lowestfare.com, RentalCars.com and BreezeNet.com. Priceline.com also licenses its business model to independent licensees.