Priceline to the rescue

George Hobica, August 08, 2008
Fares from Washington DC:

    As you know, our fare widget appears on several airport web sites, including Dayton International. Well, yesterday we got a call from the Dayton Airport asking if we could help a passenger in distress. Seems that Airtran had cancelled her flight to Charlotte, but she absolutely had to get there last night for a volleyball tournament the following morning. Airtran was willing to refund her $220 fare (under Rule 260, involuntary refunds, in its contract of carriage); but they would not Rule 240 her on United or USAir (they just don't do that, pretty much ever, as our Rule 240 chart explains). She was welcome to buy a last minute "walk up" $440 RT ticket on USAir, however, but that was way beyond her student budget.

    So what, Dayton International wondered, should they do (by the way, it was very nice of them to help her, don't you think). Well, the answer, as it turned out, was bidding for travel on Priceline.com. So we bid $200 RT for the flight and were offered a $230 RT fare for travel that night that would get the stranded passenger to Charlotte "sometime between 6 PM and 1 AM the following day." Sure, we had no idea what the airline was, or the flight times (that's the way it is with bidding on Priceline) but this was a pretty decent last minute fare.  We know some of you don't love Priceline (maybe it's those TV ads). But if you are looking for a last minute deal, they are your best and sometimes only hope. Tracy has used them several times this year in family emergencies, so we practice what we preach.

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