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Priceline is steadily gobbling up online travel booking lately beefing up airfare booking. This is not the ‘Name Your Own Price’ bidding Priceline is most known for, this is the traditional online booking like Expedia or Orbitz where travelers know the flights and price, and receive their frequent flyer program benefits as they would on those competitor sites.
Like many frequent flyers I begin my flight research on ITA Matrix. For complicated itineraries I then turn to Hipmunk to replicate ITA’s results to find a booking option. See Wandering Aramean’s Using Hipmunk to maximize mileage run bookings for detail on how to force Hipmunk to act like ITA.
On recent trips, particularly a fall trip around the Baltics, Belarus and Ukraine, I am finding time and again that Priceline is the only option or significantly cheapest option that Hipmunk produces.
An Air Baltic booking was $99 through Priceline and $220 through Expedia. I could have gone to Air Baltic to book however I less and less book directly on airline websites for smaller and non-US airlines because I so often run into difficult/failed payments, sneaky fees, and terrible interfaces.
Priceline’s own search tools are rather limited so it can be difficult to force unusual routings without the aid of Hipmunk. You may want to go direct from ITA to Priceline, or replicate Hipmunk if desiring to collect booking bonus rather than let Hipmunk collect its referral. Chase Ultimate Rewards gives 1 point/$ on Priceline bookings, Big Crumbs gives a flat $2.80 for an airline ticket, and there are others that frequently change.
Yes, there is a credit card, the Priceline Rewards Visa is a cash back card with no annual fee that gives 5x on all Priceline purchases, and currently offers a 10k signup bonues for $1,000 spend in 90 days. Extra bonus is you can choose the William Shatner image card. I get much more positive feedback from Shattner than my dumpy Chase Sapphire Preferred. (Disclaimer: if you apply through my link I will receive a referral commission, metal is so 2000s.)
A separate Rossiya intinerary I could not replicate in Priceline because I was forcing a two night layover in St. Petersburg. I was able to get it to Priceline via Hipmunk but then ran into an issue that whatever I tried, Priceline could not issue a Rossiya ticket. Not that many others can. Even Rossiya’s website gives fits to people with non-Russian credit cards. I got the same error for booking Estonian Air.
How to book airlines that the major sites do not list or fail is a tangled web though I have recently discovered new hope…see the next post.