Name Your Own Price, Hope Nothing Goes Wrong

George Hobica, July 25, 2008
Fares from Washington DC:

    Q. We booked a flight using Priceline's Name Your Own Price. Our flight left at 6:20 a.m. on Wednesday and we, very unfortunately, slept through our 3:00 a.m. alarm. We called Northwest on our way to the airport at 5:30 and they said we would be put on standby for the next flight. When we arrived at the front desk, they told us we had to call Priceline.

    Priceline said they would put in a standby request, but that the right to fly was at the discretion of the airline. When we went back up to the desk, we were told that they saw nothing in the computer, would not put us on standby and, oh by the way, your return flight is invalid as well.

    I know that missing the original flight was our fault, but can you explain why Northwest would not put us on standby and why the return flight was cancelled?

    A. Most likely your "name your own price" fare was what they call a consolidator or bulk fare, and these fares are often "use it or lose it"--they have no value if you miss your flight, and that's why they're so cheap.

    Sorry you had this experience. It's one reason why we don't list these fares on