I recently wanted to travel from JFK airport in New York to LAX airport in Los Angeles.
The catch – I wanted to travel last minute. I was booking my ticket only two days before my desired travel date. All the cheap fares required at least 7 days advance purchase.
When I want low fares but want to travel last minute, I turn to Priceline. Priceline have recently allowed you to bid on one way fares. Previously they only offered the opportunity to bid on roundtrip fares. The flights need to originate in the United States. However you can use Priceline bidding for either domestic or international.
Usually with Priceline you need to wait 24 hours between bids if your bid is unsuccessful. However you can use a neat trick, which I’ll explain.
I wanted to travel JFK to LAX. New York and Los Angeles have lots of other airports but these were the ones that were convenient for me.
The trick is that you can put ANY New York or Los Angeles airport on the first screen. Once you get to the second screen, you can deselect the airports you don’t want, including the one you initially chose!
For example, you input JFK to LAX and bid $100. You’re unsuccessful.
You then START OVER and select EWR (Newark airport) to LAX and bid $105. On the second screen, you deselect Newark and select JFK.
Changing EITHER the departure or arrival airport works. You can do this systematically and just bid up in $5 increments. Since New York and Los Angeles have lots of airports, you can have virtually unlimited rebids this way.
You can also enter a city name like “Malibu” to get additional free rebids.
These are all New York area airports. Each time, on the second screen, I deselected the unwanted airport and left ONLY JFK to LAX selected.
I then tried
These are Los Angeles area airports. I was doing this as an experiment so I was only bidding up in increments of a couple of dollars. I knew I had virtually unlimited rebids.
I checked the lowest advance purchase ticket and it was around $150. I started my bidding around $105, prior to taxes and fees, which after taxes and fees bought the total to $145. I start at around the same as the cheapest advance purchase fare.
Virtually immediately I got a “counteroffer” in which I was offered the the flight for $199 including all taxes and fees. A great price on an extremely last minute trip but I wanted to see if I could do better. I kept this window open and opened a new window. By keeping the window open, I could go back and accept the counteroffer if it was the best I got.
In the end I just kept getting counteroffers and I bid all the way up to the best counteroffer, which was $193.
I accepted the counter offer and was delighted to get a nonstop flight at a good time (4pm) on Virgin America.
The price on the Virgin America website for the same flight was $617.