Airfare Auctions …going….going….gone

Airfare Auctions actually Travel Auctions of any kind are big savings if used correctly. Most people don’t realize that some of the biggest players in the online cheap flights business are in fact more or less auction sites.

If you want to take a trip and don’t have a set day or time frame in mind, more just waiting or looking for that really great deal and if you don’t mind dealing with the unknown, consider using an airline auction. Priceline and skyauction appear to be the two most popular and reliable Airfare Auction sites out there. They offer cheap flights at deeply discounted prices, with a couple of catches. You can’t select your flight times and you won’t know your airline until after you buy your ticket. Scared you off yet? If not, please read along.

Those two issues are enough to make a lot of people skip using such a site for their airfare. The thought of buying their tickets via an airfare auction puts them right off. Now it really doesn’t have to, you won’t have to buy anything you don’t want to.

Priceline.com works differently than a regular airfare auction does. You tell Priceline when and where you want to go, and what price you are willing to pay. Within a few minutes, it will tell you whether an airline has accepted your price.

The trick is of course is to search some of the other sites that we’ve talked about on here first, to give you an idea of exactly what you might pay for a cheap flight that wasn’t bought via an airfare auction.

Airfare Auctions ...going....going....gone

Now go to Pricline and bid 50 dollars under the lowest price you found on the above sites. It is very unlikely you will ever have a price offer any lower than that accepted. I have heard some people say it does happen, but I can’t say that I’ve ever seen it done. Be careful; make sure you really want to take that trip because if your price is accepted your credit card will automatically be charged. Priceline guarantees your ticket will be on a major U.S. carrier. Its network consists of seven airlines: America West, American, Continental, Delta, Northwest, United and US Airways.

Now if you want to purchase from a pure auction site for your airline tickets SkyAuction (link) is the place for you. Actually while we are at it you can also find some really good airfare auctions on old dependable Ebay these days, actually travel of all kind not just airfare auctions.

You might notice that I linked to Ebay Canada, for a couple of reasons, number one being I am located in Canada. But more than that it is very helpful to register at more than one Ebay site. Did you know that if you are a member of Ebay.com and the seller doesn’t specifically list Canada as a place he wants his listings shown to, nobody on Ebay.ca would see it.

I have run into this a few times. I log into my local site and ask to view things available to Canada to look for whatever item I want. Then I log into Ebay.com and look for the same items and often, quite often there are many more to choose from and so far every single seller I’ve sent an email to asking if they would in fact ship to Canada has said yes. Nice bunch of people those American Ebayers. So although it might seem silly at first, by all means log into Ebay.ca and register there as well. You never know what you can find.

I have seen some really amazingly cheap flights sold on Ebay and Skyauction sites, conversely I have also seen people way too much for a flight as they get caught up in the excitement of “winning” and not really knowing or caring the actual retail value of what they won. I sometimes wonder if the auction sites count on this.

Some tips to make your online auction less stressful:

1. As stated above, but it’s really important, know how much the tickets are worth before you bid. Use some of the links on Cheap Vacations to find the best available airfare.

2. Don’t allow yourself to become so caught up in “winning” an airfare auction that you overbid!

3. Use a credit card if you do win, so that you will have recourse through the credit card company if you have a problem with the seller.

4. Make sure the seller accepts credit cards or PayPal (you can use your credit card for PayPal payments).

5. Check the seller’s feedback rating. I personally have 60 positive feedbacks, so I always suggest not buying from anyone with less than 25 with a perfect rating. Once sellers get over 100 or so it’s likely they will have the odd negative often though it’s not of their doing. If you aren’t sure you can always check the feedback and read the comments. One or two negatives might mean nothing depending on how they were handled.

6. Most Important if you just don’t feel right about the whole Airfare Auction process, DON’T bid. It’s really that simple.

7. Ask every question you can think that isn’t listed. Don’t assume anything. If something in the item description is unclear, or important information is missing you might end up winning something of no value to you. Most good sellers don’t mind email and will answer it quite promptly.

8. I can’t vouch for this one personally but I’ve seen it enough on other sites to feel it’s important to add. Don’t bid on vouchers that are “good for any destination,” coupons (i.e. $50 off), or frequent flyer miles. Most of these items are technically non-transferrable, again you could end up with something that makes great wallpaper but won’t help you travel anywhere.

9. Make sure you are bidding on, or will be able to get an actual ticket with your name printed on it. Seems obvious but you’d be surprised how many people show up at the airport with a cheap ticket that they can’t even use for one reason or another.