Home > others > at priceline’s lair, being a 2-day travel geek helps

at priceline’s lair, being a 2-day travel geek helps

after 2 days of working late nights at the VCU mail-room, endlessly printing bid after bid that failed, we finally have our plane tickets to Nevada for Christmas! Christmas in Las Vegas… not really the ideal place to spend what should be a spiritual celebration of sorts. but if you consider the fact that i will be reunited with my mom after 5 years of being apart, well, this is really special for me.

don’t worry, this would not be another mushy-hear my soul cry-post. i have the next few weeks for such.

ticketprobably you’re probably you’re wondering…why did it take me 2 sleep-deprived days to buy such an itinerary? it’s because i bought the them in priceline! and as a first-timer, i had to go through a lot before i got my c.a. $80 discount vs average peak-season airfare.

for those who have not met priceline.com yet, they have this famous program “name your own price” where you could get big discounts on flights, hotels and even car rentals if you are willing to use that adventurous-streak found deep inside all of us. here, you get to confirm your reservation prior to getting the “full details” of you reservation. i.e., you book a flight not knowing the exact flight schedules, you get a hotel room not knowing which hotels you will be staying. with the “mystery cloak” – you get a whooping discount. but it is really not all “mysterious”. for airfare, you get to dictate the dates and the conditions – like if you don’t want to fly off-peak or propeller planes, for hotels you dictate the star level and area zoning. this is not for the control-freak i tell you. but for those who are willing to sacrifice a little inconvenience for a price, well – like me, priceline is for you! unfortunately, priceline.com could only be used for flights originating from the US, though i believe with the success of the system – there are UK, Canada and Asian counter-parts that has been established….

i found priceline while googling for discount travel fares to Las Vegas a week ago since we were considering the possibility of spending our savings for the last 5 months (which could have been more if we didn’t buy my Canon S3 – which i am totally in love with!!! so NO REGRETS with that!!  though the infatuation stage has ended and we are now in the phase of silent comfort). reading from its homepage, it just sounded too good to be true! i was desperate for a super cheap flight. one thing i learned – the only way to beat the system is to know the system. i needed more information.

prior to reading Priceline.com for dummies – i never knew there where such people as “travel geeks”! these hybrid of “tourists” memorize shoulder, lean and peak travel months for famous cities, they know by heart which airlines flies jet and/or non-jet (propeller) air-crafts. If asked, they could provide you with at least 3 alternative airports to depart from in a heartbeat as well as a hint of whether there are only non-stop,1 connecting or 2 connecting flights from where you are to where you’re heading.

where do i sign up for mentorship???!!

after reading everything from cover to cover, visiting biddingfortravel.com (the haven of travel geeks)-reading success stories from its message board while dreaming of that $100 flight to Nevada vs the average season’s price of $450 up, i had the picture of success in my mind. the perfect itinerary partnered with its perfect cheap price.

day1: despite warnings from the admins of biddingfortravel.com, my aim was to get a price lower than the lean month rate which was $190/ticket (w/ tax) at that time. stupid i know – blame the inner idealist. so after placing that initial bid of $30/ticket (w/o tax) in a season whose lowest ticket price from RIC to LAS was $350 – i ended up with a lot of wasted paper for printing “bid summaries”  (i was at $165 when i gave up that night) and without a ticket. i felt really guilty with the 1/8 rim of bond paper i consumed from printing. good thing my friend Issa could not see me – she hates wasting paper – believe me – she’s a very passionate person and messing up with bond papers is a serious business for her.

day2: i knew i just couldn’t give up that easily. i should have known priceline 3-4years ago when people were winning bids at 40-50% off regular rates!!  or maybe when i booked that hotel in Washington since “travel geeks” say that you could still get great discounts if you book hotels through priceline. Imagine staying at a Marriott (an easy $200/night) for $50??! Haaayy…biddingfortravel.com says that for the last 2 years, smart bidders’ max discounts has been recorded at10% only for airfare.

Accepting these facts (with a heavy-heart), i started bidding at $175. The lowest airfare i could find then was through expedia.com at $303/ticket (w/tax). Cheapest dates were Dec25-Dec31. Checked this site i found in my researches where you could know all the flights available for that schedule (therefore also providing all possible info on connecting flights and aircraft types, making giving up those 2 connectings and non-jet free bids easy since i knew beforehand no such flights existed! I LOVE GEEKNESS!!) – “i will be a smart bidder tonight”, i say, “no such thing as luck in this ballgame”.

after giving all my free bids up, my highest bid of $235/ticket (TAXexcl) still didn’t make it. buying at rates higher than this price considering the convinience i have given up won’t be worth it! AARRGGHH! tough season to crack!!!

i was in the verge of giving up and surrendering to expedia’s offer when priceline gave me a blessing for goodwill. probably because i exerted effort on taking a crash course to travel geek-hood just to get that BEST (ehem…cheap!) price, of maybe because i was getting into their system’s nerves since i have been bidding 3sets in a row that night- but after a series of offers to change airports to meet my bid (they were asking me to depart from Washington International, which unfortunately is not an option for me) – a breakthrough!

$272/person (TAXincl), 1 connection, off-peak flight only on returning trip.

LUCK still wins in the end.

Categories: others
  1. January 26, 2007 at 7:19 am

    I have a site of my own, on discount international airfares, that is related to your blog, perhaps you will visit.

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