From My Inbox…Why I Recommend Priceline And The Potential Pitfalls Of Booking Directly With An Airline

92

Yisroel F. wrote to me last month,

“I booked a ticket on AA.com last night and now when I try to cancel (less than 24 hours) they are telling me I can’t cancel because they offer a hold for flights more than 7 days in advance.”


Alas he was told correct info.
Tickets booked on AA.com more than 7 days in advance can’t be cancelled as they offer a hold option that you are able to use. Because they offer the hold option they are exempt from the DoT mandate to allow refunds within 24 hours of booking.

I advised him to use Priceline the next time. Had he done so he would have been able to cancel that ticket. Priceline makes it easy to cancel tickets for flights departing from the US until 11:29pm the business day after booking. That means a ticket bought at 12:05am EST on Wednesday can be cancelled until 11:29pm EST on Thursday. A ticket bought at 12:05am EST on Friday can be cancelled until 11:29pm EST on the following Monday.

You can cancel online by just clicking through from your email confirmation to view your itinerary.

The Priceline free cancellation policy even applies within 7 days of a flight when the DoT mandate doesn’t even apply.

Jacob G wrote to me last month,

“I booked a ticket online with Turkish and I before I checked out I didn’t realize that the price doubled. I called them yup they say there is nothing to do because its non-refundable”


I asked him how and what he booked. And why he booked direct instead of with Priceline.
And he replied,

“A few hours ago. From NYC to Israel through Istanbul. I thought its better by them.”


Of course there’s no advantage to booking direct. Had he booked through Priceline he could have clicked cancel and been done with it.

Now the rule is that he deserves a refund within 24 hours. However more customer service reps of foreign carriers aren’t familiar with US laws.

I first advised him to call back, but he had no luck with that. The rep incorrectly told him that the DoT rule only applied for domestic US flight. Jacob asked me if he should dispute the charge.

Disputing a charge can be a messy affair and is really just for a last resort. Instead I told him to file a DoT complaint against Turkish and give as much detail as possible.

Within 5 days he had his refund thanks to the DoT.

All is well that ends well in that case, but life would have been easier by booking through a site like Priceline (or Orbitz for that matter, though Priceline seems to have the easiest and most generous cancel time.)


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92 Comments On "From My Inbox…Why I Recommend Priceline And The Potential Pitfalls Of Booking Directly With An Airline"

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reb yid

plus if ppl go through your affiliate link, its a win-win 🙂

shmuel

Is there ever a reason to book direct? I have never seen cheaper direct.

Booky

Yup, I always book through Priceline, thanks.

Frank

Dan I actually booked AA jfk-lax roundtrip a month out and need to cancel it. Called AA and they told me they could not cancel(cited the hold reason) and give a refund. Called back and another agent cancelled it for me and refunded my money. I called within 24 hours of booking.

jack

Reason ppl book through AA is to cancel and get Platinum airline credit.
any solution to that?

Anonymous

Cab I use rewards points on booking through priceline?

jack huffer

all nice and well but with customers that have a American Express rewards gold cardwon’t always get triple points for tickets purchased on other web sites other than their airline itself

Dan

@reb yid:
Not a bad thing either 🙂

@shmuel:
Not that I know of.

@Frank:
You got lucky!

@jack:
Huh?
You don’t get Plat credit on tickets.

@Anonymous:
What kind of points?

@jack huffer:
Priceline doesn’t actually charge you, it’s passed through to the airline so it does earn 3x points on the gold card in my experience.
You just get to take advantage of Priceline’s more generous cancellation terms.

Jacob

Interesting that you say this. I was always under the impression it is better to book direct.

Say for instance that the flight is canceled or you miss your flight do to a connection. I always find it easier when booked direct to get a new flight. I have had both cases happened and having to call orbitz/priceline to get a new flight is a pain.

Has that changed?

EJB

Are there any drawbacks? I’m assuming you don’t get 3x with the PRG.

gtyossi

These websites dont always show all flight combinations available from airlines website.

Dan

@Jacob:
I have booked through Priceline and have been able to deal directly with the airline when I need to.

@EJB:
Actually, in most cases you do as the airline typically runs the charge, not Priceline or Orbitz.

If you have an itinerary with multiple carriers it won’t work like that, but most airline sites don’t even offer that as an option, so that’s a moot point.

@gtyossi:
In my experience the opposite is true.
Between Priceline and Orbitz there are more flights combinations shown between them than directly with the airline.

Yoni

I booked many flights with priceline and agree with what u say
But u forgot to add that if u want to change the flight later then 24 hours so after paying the airline fee (usually 200$) you need to add 35$ to priceline which u don’t pay if u booked on the airline website
So if u know u won’t have changes in the first 24 hours it’s probably better bookin on the airline website
Also u can sometimes make small changes when u book on the airline website
But priceline are very tuff about any change (even a wrong spelling name)

CBS

I had that issue with AA the other day and i told them i didnt see the hold option as they took away the hold option for the holiday flights, so ppl dont hold availability
they issued me a paper voucher refund after talking to supervisor – so maybe ppl should request that

mia flyer

i remember years ago (they may have improved since then) but many hotels,car rentals never respected priceline and the customer service was horrible with them & customers always felt they would have better customer service dealing with the airline itself

Peteco

Dan, in the case of AA I don’t agree with you. He was worse off using AA’s site just because he didn’t use the hold tool. That’s his error and not a disadvantage of using AA’s site.
Also, when you book through an OTA, you are adding a third party, and higher chances of fingerpointing when things go wrong.
To sum up, using AA, you can hold for more than 24hs for free, and avoid a third party.
I only use OTA for itineraries with different airlines (different alliances) or packages.
Regards
Peteco

Chaikel

A disadvantage of booking via OTA is if you need to change or cancel a flight the OTA generally tacks on an extra fee, while direct rarely is there an additional surcharge for changes. Many airlines will not allow you to change/cancel direct with them when ticket was purchased via OTA

Dan

@Yoni:
@Chaikel:
I guess I care more about the first 24-48 hours as when there’s a great deal I’ll jump on it quickly and then finalize plans.

Once I have plans set I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve coughed up a change fee.

And a card like Sapphire Preferred will cover changes needed for covered reasons as well.

If someone’s playing lots of change fees…they should be flying Southwest.

And when a flight is cancelled or changed I’ve never had a problem dealing directly with the airline.

@CBS:
Was your flight within 7 days?

@mia flyer:
That was true for their bidding system.

@Peteco:
Even if you use AA.com hold, once you’re ready to book you’d be better off booking on Priceline assuming the price didn’t change.

Anonymous

what if you book ticket less than 7 days in advance does the 24-hour us rule to mandate refunds still apply?

jack huffer

@Dan: like I said not always I personally have purchased tickets on Priceline is that I did not get triple points for because Priceline itself charged me especially when the ticket is a combination of to non code share Airlines or sometimes when you purchase a international one way which is very cheapand if you would buy that one way on the airline itself they will charge you bubble

Yoni

@jack huffer
If u have priceline visa you get 5 points per Doller so it’s pretty good compared to the 3 points u get on Amex

Anonymous

inbox? can we email you?

Dan

@Anonymous:
It doesn’t officially apply, but Priceline always gives until 11:29pm the business day after booking a flight from the US.

@jack huffer:
Like I said, moot point.
The airline direct probably won’t even give you the option for a multi-airline itinerary.

And you can use a Sapphire card for double points no matter how it’s booked and get free insurance.

@Anonymous:
I can hundreds of emails a day. I answer when I can but I don’t have time for the vast majority unfortunately.

cbs

i say just use an agent 🙂

Dan

@cbs:
You can, personally I’d rather just book quickly online myself but I’m sure there are agents that can work some magic.

Anonymous

@Dan:

wow! thanks for info so especially if you book LESS than 7 days from flight date that’s another reason to use priceline as airline can officially say no refunds even within 24 hours!

cbs

@dan the flight was booked for same week thats way they took away the hold feature apparently

if you werent booking mileage and it wasnt a price mistake – you’d still rather book online if I (the agent) can save you $1-200 ?
it’s not always the situation but you wouldnt know unless you asked

Dan

@Anonymous:
Indeed.

@cbs:
If it’s not a price mistake or limited time sale I’m probably using miles 😉

But yes, there’s no reason not to comparison shop. Or even to grab a Priceline flight and then comparison shop as you can cancel until 11:29pm the business day after booking.

Moshe

I booked JFK-Tlv via Moscow on Airfare.com who have a same day 11:59pm cancellation full refund policy.
Trying to cancel i called a half an hour ahead of time I discovered no one answering the phones after being on hold for a total 2 hours I hung up.
Next morning someone did speak to me after taking my information he went to check out if I actually called to cancel, he came back and claimed that I never called in and refused to refund.
How can you cancel when there is no one taking calls?

Dan

@Moshe:
And that’s why I recommend Priceline where you can cancel online with the click of a button.

Anonymous

but if im booking with points i need to go direct to the website correct ?

Alan

@Dan:
Does the 24 hour refund rule only apply to airlines, or also to all third-party vendors, such as Vayama? Also, if I book a connecting flight, let’s say JFK–CDG–TLV, is the airline required to refund me for the entire trip, or only the leg departing from the USA? Thanks.

Dan

@Anonymous:
If you have United miles then you’d need to use United.com of course.

@Alan:
A lot of those Vayama and Airfare.com type of sites seem to have rules that don’t comply with the DoT mandate. As long as an itinerary has a leg that includes US travel it should fall under DoT jurisdiction.

I’m not sure how they get around it.
Has anyone booked through them and filed a DoT complaint?

Y

But benefit of booking directly with Airline is getting the benefits, such as booking with airline credit card to get free luggage, IIRC you would not get that if you book through third party.

mike

does priceline give the 24 hour cancelation if I buy a ticket from another country like from TLV to NYC or from TLV to LON ?

Dan

@Y:
Not true.
You get free bags regardless of where you book.

@mike:
Any flight to or from the US can be cancelled until 11:29pm the business day after booking.

adam

Would this priceline option apply to spirit airlines bookings too?

Min

Thank U! This was so helpful

Ys

I use orbitz bc they give Orbitz rewards and if someone bought the same itinerary after me for cheaper they sent me a check in the mail. Though cancelation may be harder than Priceline.

bruce

Dan-

Why do you say disputing is a messy affair. I am asking because I was on a connecting US air flight from BWI-PHL-YYZ that was cancelled (PHL-YYZ)while on the tarmac at BWI. They promised me a refund because even though they re-accommodated to BUF I told them Id rather RETURN to BWI…they said its too late for that because I was already on tarmac but rep promised a refund. US air is now denying…I feel my only resort is to dispute. What do you advise?

yesitsme

my exp. with expidia i had a ticket from Detroit (DTW) to EWR-BOS Boston was just to make it cheaper, that united flight was canceled i was bumped for 2 days, i called them and said that i have a meeting in nj that night it’s very important …blah bla… Boston could hold on a few days but i must get to nj area for the meeting, they put me on a delta flight to LGA may 6 and we will figure already about BOS once there (i forgot to take care of it) the E-mail i received from expidia was inaccurate they wrote that the ua flight is back on to EWR than i got a feeling not to book through 3rd party’s

original

Detroit Newark 1 h 55 m
491 mi
DTW 6:15pm EWR 8:10pm
United 3447 Operated by /SHUTTLE AMERICA DBA UNITED EXPRESS
Economy / Coach (T) | Confirm seats with the airline *
Layover: 1 h 15 m
custom air icon Newark Boston 1 h 32 m
191 mi
EWR 9:25pm BOS 10:57pm
United 1066
Economy / Coach (T) | Confirm seats with the airline *

chnged

Tuesday, May 06, 2014 at 6:15 PM
UNITED Flight Number: UA3447
From: (DTW) Detroit Metro MI, USA Depart: 6:15 PM
To: (EWR) Newark NJ, USA Arrive: 8:10 PM
Status: CONFIRMED Class: Coach
Equipment: Embraer ERJ-170
Operated By: /SHUTTLE AMERICA DBA UNITED EXPRESS(UA)
Detroit to Newark
Flight Details Thursday, May 08, 2014 at 7:00 AM
UNITED Flight Number: UA3837
From: (DTW) Detroit Metro MI, USA Depart: 7:00 AM
To: (EWR) Newark NJ, USA Arrive: 8:42 AM
Status: CONFIRMED Class: Coach
Equipment: Embraer RJ135 / RJ140 / RJ145
Operated By: /EXPRESSJET AIRLINES DBA UNITED EXPRESS(UA)
Newark to Boston
Flight Change Details May 08, 2014 at 10:10 AM (change) Change in Flight
UNITED Flight Number: UA 1163 (change)
From: (EWR) Newark NJ, USA Depart: 10:10 AM (change)
To: (BOS) Boston MA, USA Arrive: 11:25 AM (change)
Status: CONFIRMED Class: Coach
Equipment: Boeing 737-800 Jet

i called to complain that i have to be in ny that night and they put me on a delta flight to LG

Tuesday, May 06, 2014 at 6:15 PM (change) Change in Flight
UNITED Flight Number: UA 3447 (change)
From: (DTW) Detroit Metro MI, USA Depart: 6:15 PM (change)
To: (EWR) Newark NJ, USA Arrive: 8:10 PM (change)
Status: CONFIRMED Class: Coach
Equipment: Embraer ERJ-170 (change)
Operated By: /SHUTTLE AMERICA DBA UNITED EXPRESS(UA)
Newark to Boston
Flight Change Details May 07, 2014 at 7:56 AM (change) Change in Flight
UNITED Flight Number: UA 0401 (change)
From: (EWR) Newark NJ, USA Depart: 7:56 AM (change)
To: (BOS) Boston MA, USA Arrive: 9:13 AM (change)
Status: CONFIRMED Class: Coach
Equipment: Airbus A320 Jet (change)

Anonymous

@Dan: asking about Delta points?

Dan's the Man

I know you’re not a JetBlue True Blue points fan but if you book with them you get double the points than using a 3rd party website. I don’t know their 24 hours cancellation policy but if someone flys JetBlue and accrues True Blue points it’s worth it to look into their 24 hr cancellation policy and book through them.

FlightBlitz

Priceline may be a good suggestion for glitch tickets, over using an airline or a travel agent, thanks to their awesome cancellation policy.
but for non glitch tickets internationally, us travel agents hold the edge doubly – we can discount published fares, as well as offer special “net fare” deals, and of course we can hold your reservation, and cancel within 24hrs as well. For families especially 5 flights NYC-TLV direct can save a family upwards of $300 from pricelines prices.

In todays day and age, OTA’s such as priceline, are full price.
Travel Agencies can offer discounted flights.

Ben

I book direct when doing United or other Star Alliance carriers because my discontinued Chase MileagePlus Select card seems to be able to distinguish in booking through a portal or not – I got them on the phone once to question why I didn’t get as many miles as I expected and Chase blamed the portal (can’t remember which). I get 3 miles/dollar for United, 2 miles/dollar for other Star Alliance, and up to 5000 PQM annual for purchases on United.com (1 PQM per dollar), so it matters a lot.

Zvi

Dan,

Are the advantages you mention (i.e. 24-48 hour cancel) equally good with Priceline, Orbitz, and Kayak? Is there some reason you mention Priceline specifically?

Thanks

Dan

@adam:
Good question, I’ve never actually booked a Spirit ticket!

@bruce:
Go for it. I just don’t dispute until I’ve exhausted other options.

@Anonymous:
Delta.com

@Ben:
Good card, shame it’s discontinued.

Did the charge show up as being charged by United?

@Zvi:
Priceline has the longest cancellation period and allows cancellations online.

Etihad booking

I need to cancel a trip I made on Etihad last week.

I made it last week on my amex plat card. What can I do?

Can I say they kill people on their planes so I demand a refund and refuse to fly? made via priceline.

ink card

Slightly off topic, Is there any reason to book with a Sapphire over an ink plus?

ExGingi

@Dan
Any reason you never mention Expedia? I’ve cancelled tickets with them several times with no problem. It’s up to 11:59pm PST on the next day.

Dan

@Etihad booking:
🙄

@ink card:
More points, better insurance coverage.

@ExGingi:
Still have nightmares of having to call them and wait for hours to cancel my El Al glitch tickets as the online cancellation didn’t work.

Never had an issue cancelling a Priceline online.

my experience

i had a similar issue with spirit air when i booked a ticket and 20 min later tried to cancel it. they wouldn’t allow because it was within 7 days of my flight. so i asked them if i can change my itinerary and switched my flight to a random day a week later(making sure the new and old reservations where the same price) they let me do that no problem. then i called back and canceled the new ticket as it was now a flight more than 7 days away! hope this can work for them too!

Ben

@Dan – it is a great card! I wish they still offered it. Wish I could get it for friends/family as I’ve converted a lot of us, for better or worse, to United flyers.

Re the portal, I tracked it down — it was Orbitz, buying Copa flights in March 2013. Chase shows the charges as from Copa, but only credited me the normal 1 mi/dollar instead of the 2 mi/dollar I expected.

Dan

@Ben:
Try it with a United flight and let us know what happens.

ink card

@Dan: can you be a little more specific? I thought they both get 2 points per dollar and the trip insurance is the same?

Dan

@ink card:
Nope.
It does not get double points for airfare and the insurances and not as good.

Joel

I flew with Ukraine through Pricline this summer, Ukraine canceled 1 leg of the flight, Pricline gave me the option to fly a day later which i chose. When I called Ukraine to confirm the change, they did not want to confirm it and said that the booking agency has yet to update them about the change. I went back and forth between the airline and Pricline till it was confirmed with both parties.

Berele

I don’t understand. When I book a ticket through Priceline I kayak, I can’t choose my seat. Only if I book through the airline directly. That to me is more valuable than the small chance I might need to cancel my flight

flying

My hyatt card gets me 2 points per dollar when booking direct with the airline, would I still get that if I booked on priceline?

Dan

@Berele:
Just type in your airline confirmation number into the airline’s website to choose a seat.

@flying:
Yes, Priceline doesn’t charge your card for single airline tickets.
They just pass the charge through to the airline.

Ed

Why book on Priceline with a 24+ hr free cancellation when you can HOLD on AA with the same 24+hr period.

Also, booking with an airline is much more advantageous if you have status and end up needed a change made — they tend to be more accomodating

Dan

@Ed:
Because you can hold on AA.com and then book on Priceline if the price didn’t go up to have up to 72 hours to cancel?

I’ve been able to make changes without issue even when booking via 3rd party.

Yaks

When doing the PGGM on the platinum card I’ve always booked delta direct and cancelled within 24 hours. Any reason to stop doing this with delta? Or is it still fine?

AJ

Dan,
I noticed on DDF that you have links to many merchants. Probably the vast majority of your readers would be happy to support you via those links, but aren’t aware of their existence (zeh neheneh v’zeh lo choser). Why don’t you put a link on the main site for it?

Anonymous

@Dan: If the price hasn’t gone up, you put it on HOLD for another 24 hours

Dan

@Yaks:
What does that have to do with this post?

@Anonymous:
If you have the time you can keep doing that forever…
Most people just want to book at some point and when you do it’s nice to have another 24-48 hours to cancel.

reb yid

I’ve booked though kayak.com once, when I tried to cancel within 24 hrs they wanted $450. I complained to DoT and they said the 24hr rule only applies to airlines, not travel agencies.

Dan

@reb yid:
I guess that’s how Vayama and Airfare also get around it.

Next time book from Priceline or Orbitz…

Miz

I have quite a case with Emirates right now. I booked an intra-middle east award ticket with Emirates (for three passengers). I was overcharged for this ticket. My credit card was charged for $360 more than the amount I was quoted as the total charge. Emirates says that the charge is correct and what I was quoted did not include fuel surcharge. They don’t care that they should have correctly disclosed the total charge to me. I made the booking on Emirates US website and was quoted and charged in USD. Can I complain to DOT?

Dan

@Miz:
Of course.

yaks

@ Dan
My question was, is it nesecarry for me to start booking via priceline in a situation were I will be canceling the delta ticket within 24 hours? Or can I continue booking through delta.com with no worries?

Dan

@yaks:
Delta.com is fine for PGGM.

sam

@dan your right with AA.com but with UA or US they’re customer service wont talk to you unless you booked with them, and why dont you also write about the extra service charge that priceline tacks on to make a change

emkay

i thought you dont answer personal emails?

MC

Any experience canceling with Priceline/Orbitz?

I canceled a TLV-IST-KTM return ticket in October after finding a better price and Expedia took over a month to credit back, which seemed to be a well known “semi-scam” when I googled about it (eg http://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/holidays/article-2131083/Expedia-delaying-refunds-customers-passes-blame-airlines.html)

Charles Kuttner

Seconding Dan’s motion: Southwest is my preferred airline. No charge to cancel, realizing you get a credit that has to be used within a certain number of months.

As to United…you can’t pay me and my wife enough to fly in their cramped seating, and I won’t pay $70 per leg of flight for the expanded seating. I have filed an official DOT complaint about the risk to customers’ health from thrombosis. (I’m an MD, but of course, DOT didn’t respond…)

Ikey

Last February I bought a $710 ticket TLV-JFK RT via Lufthansa on United.com. I checked Kayak,Priceline, SkyScanner…at the time and nobody had that fare listed. When the day to actually fly approached on March 27 Lufthansa announced a possible strike in Germany.I called Lufthansa to reschedule me they refused saying it is only a ‘possible’ strike not a definite strike. I then called United they told me it’s not their issue but rather Lufthansa’s issue. When I pointed out that I bought the ticket on UA.com and United must take responsibility they did. I was rescheduled on United direct flight to EWR.

Rivka

want to book an American airlines ticket. If I book it through American I will get a $100 statement credit. Does the statement credit also come through if it was booked on priceline?

DETROITs next

You actually check (and respond to ) your inbox ???

David

Between Priceline, Hotwire, Expedia etc. Which website is best to book on?

Allan

Dan:

I have tried to verify the ability to cancel a Friday Priceline retail airline booking (of a Frontier domestic flight) on Monday as you suggest and I cannot find anything written on the Priceline website which confirms that. Where did you see that? Will it work with Frontier tickets purchased on Priceline?

Allan

jake

if i want to use my aa gift cards that i got from the amex plat card do I have to book through aa?

abka

Hey DAN, I know this post was last used on 1/11, but now I have an issue reagarding this discussion. I booked an ELAL ticket through Priceline when they had the 799 special. Now as my trip date approaches I am considering to stay a bit longer. I called ELAL and they refuse to assist me becuase it was purchased by Priceline and I need to deal with them. I spoke to priceline and they tell me, it will cost 200 in fees (170+30) plus price difference for the other flight total 586 to make a change. I am wondering if I would be better off dealing directly with ELAL. Also what happens if I miss my flight, what will it cost me to reschedule? Please give me any advice.

Dan

@abka:
El Al would have charged you as well.

abka

@Dan: Do you have any experiance what happens if I miss my flight and need to reschedule, what would happen? Would I then yes work something out directly with ELAl? HOw much should expect to pay?

OldTraveler

@Dan: Do you know if the 24 hours rule applies to foreign airline flight bookings without a US segment, but the foreign airline is operating a website in the US, directed to US based customers such as Malaysia Air?

RB

Why can’t I find priceline’s 24-48 hour cancellation policy on their website anywhere? Any link I find to the subject is a vague statement saying that each ticket can only be cancelled based on the airline’s policies…

Joe

Any reason you can’t cancel and re-book daily so that you can cancel in more than 24-48 hrs?

jay

dan thanks for you offers
i have money on my jetblue bank (canceled trips)
is there any way i could use that when purchasing via priceline a jetblue flight

David

Hi.
What if I may need to change my return flight?

In that case, isn’t it less expensive if I’ve purchased directly from Aeroflot, for instance?

Deb

Dan, I booked through Priceline a month ago for late march to KY and back. Have been ill and American air said it would be $200.00 plus to cancel. Since priceline is the way I booked do I have to wait until the day before the reservation to cancel to get a free cancellation? Or can I do it right away? Thanks in advance for your reply or anyone else who may know.

Dan

@Deb:
Neither.
“Priceline makes it easy to cancel tickets for flights departing from the US until 11:29pm the business day after booking.”

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