If you’ve ever spent time searching for great flight deals, you’ve probably come across Priceline.
The online travel agency (OTA) has been famous for years, first gaining popularity with the flight deals available through their Name Your Own Price tool and evolving this system of “opaque” booking into new forms—like their Express Deals—to continue bringing travelers discounts on flights and other travel services like hotels and car rentals.
But just what does Priceline bring to the table that separates it from other OTAs? And should you book your next flight through Priceline or somewhere else?
Here’s everything you need to know about Priceline and the biggest pros and cons to consider before booking your next adventure on a Priceline flight.
Table of Contents
- What Are Online Travel Agencies (OTAs)
- 6 Pros to Priceline.com Flights
- 6 Cons to Priceline.com Flights
- 3 Steps for Booking Priceline Airline Tickets
- Priceline Flights: Wrap Up
What Are Online Travel Agencies (OTAs)?
Online travel agencies are precisely what’s in the name: online platforms offering travel services and deals on airline tickets, car rentals, hotel room rates, and bundles. This makes it easy to compare prices from multiple companies at once and maximize deals and savings.
You’ve doubtless heard of other online travel agencies before, Expedia.com and Airbnb.com just to name a few. Of course, Priceline is one such online travel agency that travelers can utilize to find flights at a lower price than booking directly through the airline!
It’s important to note that OTAs are not metasearch engines like Google Flights or Kayak, which show prices by pulling from multiple websites, including airlines and OTAs like Priceline.
These differences come with some significant advantages and disadvantages, and we’ll get into them while discussing the pros and cons of using Priceline to find cheap flights.
6 Pros to Priceline.com Flights
Priceline used to be famous for its Name Your Own Price tool, a bidding feature that helped it stand out from the rest of the OTA pack with opaque booking options, only revealing the airline a flight deal was through after a user’s bid had been approved.
While Priceline ended its Name Your Own Price bidding for flights years ago, you can still take advantage of Priceline.com flights to find great deals on airline tickets to unbelievable destinations.
1. VIP Loyalty Program
Priceline VIP, the site’s loyalty program, is an easy way to rack up travel discounts. The program itself is simple, with four levels based on the number of completed trips members have taken.
All membership levels come with their Best Price Guarantee, with hotel price savings ranging from 10-50 percent and car rental savings from 10-20 percent. And, of course, they offer deep discounts and insider coupons.
Signing up for the VIP program is free—something we were pleased to see—and tracking your completed trips is easy if you always use your membership email when booking your Priceline flights.
2. 24-Hour Cancellation Policy
Priceline offers a 24-hour cancellation policy, much like most major airlines do. So, if you book a Priceline flight and then need to cancel for any reason, you can log into your Priceline account and cancel your reservation under My Trips for no fee.
Note: The cancellation policy differs by airline, so always be sure to read through the cancellation policy before confirming your booking.
You may even be in for a bit of a surprise reading through the terms, as some tickets allow you to cancel free of charge until the following business day at 11:59 PM ET. Meaning if you book your Priceline flight on a Friday, you can stretch your cancellation period to the following Monday.
Again, just be sure to read the fine print on the cancellation policy. You’ll want to know all the details in advance to take full advantage of any loopholes here.
3. Best Price Guarantee
Priceline offers a Best Price Guarantee program on their flight deals for 24 hours. This guarantee means that if you find a better deal for the same flight somewhere else, you can bring that lower price to Priceline. They’ll then issue a refund for the difference:
- 100% for regular tickets
- 200% for Express Deals
You’ll find some caveats to this program, the biggest being that you have to find the exact same itinerary with the same airline, same dates, same fare class down to the exact flight times, and the number of passengers.
4. Express Deals
Incredible savings on travel are always a big pro in our book.
Priceline may have done away with its Name Your Own Price tool, but it hasn’t completely abandoned the opaque booking feature that made it famous. Now, Priceline offers deeply discounted fares through what’s called Priceline Express Deals.
Express Deals provide incredible savings on domestic flights and even more on long-haul, international flights.
Suppose you don’t mind booking a flight knowing very few details beforehand. In that case, Priceline certainly makes it worth your while, offering tickets at a heavily discounted price.
The way it works, travelers are given very few details prior to booking. Priceline will inform you of the flight timeframes, departure and arrival airports, if carry-on luggage and seat assignments are included, and some possible airlines for the deal. However, you’re given all the specific information regarding your flight only after booking.
With savings from 5-40% and great deals on last-minute flights, the lower prices undoubtedly make the lack of information easier to overlook. In general, it’s a pretty great opportunity for adventurous and flexible travelers to score big here on Priceline flights.
5. Vacation Packages
Priceline offers a bundle-and-save option with a variety of vacation package deals:
- Hotel + Flight
- Hotel + Flight + Rental Car
- Flight + Rental Car
- Hotel + Rental Car
Travelers can use these packaging options to bundle together different aspects of their travel and cash in on discounts and savings available via Priceline.
Even when bundling, you can still filter your search criteria—such as hotel brand, rental company, and more—to ensure the results fit your preferred travel style.
6. Transparent Booking
Priceline is upfront and clear about the cancellation policies for each airline ticket and what is and isn’t included in your booking.
Because cancellation policies and what’s included differ based on the class fare, airline, etc., it’s helpful to know this information before completing your booking, and Priceline is clear about all of it.
Just make sure you don’t forget to give this info a read-over before you book your Priceline flights!
6 Cons to Priceline.com Flights
Priceline does have its perks, but as with any online travel agency, you’ll encounter some cons when using the Priceline website to find cheap flights and save money on your next trip.
Here, we’ll break down the fine print of Priceline’s main features to make sure you’re getting the most out of your booking experience.
1. Blind Booking
Without a doubt, Priceline’s best flight deals and savings come through opaque booking features like Priceline Express Deals. By entering their blind booking arrangement, you can take advantage of steep discounts.
But, if you book an Express Deal, you won’t be given the specific flight times, airline, or layovers until after you book.
Consequently, their opaque bookings aren’t great for travelers with little flexibility, who may need to know these details before booking. And as their biggest discounts come through Express Deals and other opaque options, this means travelers with more rigid schedules miss out on the best savings for Priceline flights.
2. Nonrefundable Flight Reservations
Now, you may be thinking of Priceline’s 24-hour Cancellation Policy as a solution to their blind bookings, but this is where another con rears its ugly head.
Express Deals are nonrefundable.
So, once you’ve booked, you’re stuck with your booking, without the ability to change or cancel your reservation.
Now, there is one bright spot to this: Priceline’s Best Price Guarantee. So, if you find an identical flight for a cheaper price, you can get 200% of the price difference refunded. But that still leaves you trying to make it work with a disadvantageous flight.
Additionally, some airlines are excluded from Priceline’s Best Price Guarantee, so you won’t be able to apply the Best Price Guarantee with these carriers:
- Air France
- British Airways
Pro-Tip: To avoid some of these pitfalls, use a travel credit card with great benefits for Priceline purchases and take advantage of their cancellation coverages when possible.
3. No Option for Direct Booking
Like many OTAs on the market, Priceline doesn’t allow you to book airline tickets directly through the airline’s website. Transactions are started and completed on the Priceline website.
So, if you want to double-check prices, access the airline’s own offerings, or take advantage of an airline card or airline points while booking, you may find services with clearer booking reservations might be more your speed.
And if that’s the case, you can save big and know exactly what you’re booking with flight deals from Next Vacay. Next Vacay always takes you directly to the airline website to complete your travel itinerary, allowing you to shop prices, take advantage of airline discounts, and use points/rewards toward your purchase.
4. No Comparison to Other OTAs
Priceline doesn’t offer pricing from other OTAs, just Priceline airline tickets and their cost.
If you want to make sure you’re truly getting the best deal available, you’ll have to do some price sleuthing on your own.
5. No “Explore” Map Feature
Sometimes, you don’t have set travel plans, and it’s helpful to explore your options to find the cheapest places to fly, from general regions to specific arrival cities.
Unfortunately, Priceline doesn’t offer an “explore” map feature to compare pricing for different destinations.
Because Priceline doesn’t allow you to enter multiple arrival cities in their search engine, you’ll have to either search destinations of interest one by one or leave their website to find this information elsewhere.
6. A Challenge to Find the “Best” Flight Deals
The Priceline website and Priceline app are often two different ecosystems.
While they’re both relatively easy to navigate, you’ll find that different deals are advertised on the website and the app. Suppose you want to find the best flight available while also taking advantage of discounts on hotel room rates and deals on rental cars and bundling them together. Good luck navigating both mediums and comparing discounts between them for the cheapest overall travel.
You’ll likely find yourself putting in more work and effort for deals that don’t actually offer the lowest price available. You may even end up paying more than you would have booking directly with the airline.
3 Steps for Booking Priceline Airline Tickets
Still comparing the finer points of Priceline’s services? Another pro you can put in Priceline’s corner is that they’re easy to use, with a simple booking process not unlike other OTAs you may have used in the past.
If you haven’t booked with them before, though, check out these simple steps for a smooth Priceline website experience to get you from booking to flying as soon as possible.
1. Search Priceline Flights
First, you’ll need to search for your flight. Enter in your travel details, and then you can narrow down your options to what works for you.
- Choose round-trip flights, one-way, or multi-destination
- Enter departure city (or airport) and arrival city (or airport)
- Select departure and return dates
- Enter the number of travelers (adults and children)
- Select Cabin Class (auto-defaults to economy fare)
- Optional: Add on Bundle + Save
- Click Find Your Flight
You can simply enter your city if you wish to be shown pricing information from multiple airports or enter a specific airport if you prefer more focused options.
Also, if you have flexible dates, you can peruse the trip calendar to select the most favorably priced dates for your departure and return. Even if you’re able to leave or return one day earlier or later, that may help you land some extra savings.
2. View and Filter the Results
Once you request to find your flight, a new window will open with your search parameters applied. Results populate in order based on price, but you can fine-tune the flights shown by adjusting the filters located on the left-hand side. There, you can choose your preferred number of stops, flight times, airlines, and more.
Among the resulting fares, you’ll likely notice a Priceline Express deal you can book for some amount of savings.
Once you’ve selected your departure flight, you’ll be taken to select your return flight. Any pricing at “+$0.00” won’t affect the previously stated price, but you’ll notice there are options to book your return for a higher price if you choose.
3. Confirm Your Booking and Payment
Once you’ve selected your departure and return flights, Priceline will open another window and confirm the price of your booking.
They’ll also inform you if you have 24-hour free cancellation for the flight you’ve chosen.
You can double-check the flight information, review the baggage info, check out upgrade options, and select your seat (if this option is included in your fare).
Once you’ve reviewed everything, you can continue to checkout to enter your passenger info and payment details. Then, you’ll have the chance to review one final time and complete your Priceline flight booking to take your next adventure!
Priceline Flights: Wrap Up
Priceline can be a great website to find steep discounts and take advantage of fantastic savings through the company’s Express Deals and vacation packages. That said, not everyone can reap the rewards equally. Without a doubt, their best features and savings are geared toward flexible travelers with fewer opportunities available for travelers with stricter schedules to find and enjoy similar deals.
Still, if you can make it work, you can put away some serious savings on your next trip with Priceline flights.