Priceline has long been a go-to resource for travelers in search of cheap flights. One of the oldest and most established names in the world of OTAs (Online Travel Agencies), Priceline is owned by Booking Holdings Inc. – along with popular OTAs such as Kayak and Momondo.
Historically, Priceline has usually been thought of more as a place to book things like hotels and car rentals. This was thanks in large part to its famous and now-defunct Name Your Own Price feature, which would provide steep discounts but keep key details like the hotel name, a secret until after booking.
But if you know how to use it, Priceline can also be a great place to score cheap flights. Especially if you’re looking for a one-stop-shop for adding things like car rentals and hotels to your itinerary. Read on to learn how and when you should use Priceline to book your trip.
How does Priceline work?
Similar to other favorite flight search engines, Priceline searches and compiles the results from hundreds of other OTAs and airlines, saving you time and energy. In addition to searching, Priceline's unique benefit is that it partners with airlines (and hotels) to provide users with opaque deals – deals that are sometimes even better than what can be found anywhere else. In exchange, users have limited access to key details about their flight until after their purchase.
These opaque bookings are a win-win, as they help airlines sell seats that might otherwise go unfilled and pass the savings onto Priceline users.
Why we like Priceline
Priceline Express deals
To replace the Name Your Own Price feature, Priceline still gives you a chance to score great flight (or hotel and car rental) deals with features like their opaque Express Deals (more on that below), which can save you up to 50% on your flight. If you're a flexible traveler looking to save some money, these Express Deals can be a great find.
Best Price Guaranteed
Travelers can book flights through Priceline with total confidence. Priceline’s Best Price Guarantee means that if you find a better price within 24 hours of booking, they’ll refund the difference.
As for their Express Deals guarantee, Priceline is so confident in their deals that they’ll refund you 200% of the difference if you find a better price up to midnight before you travel.
Doesn’t allow for multi-city
While other flight search engines allow you to search for flights departing from multiple airports, Priceline does not. So if you’re within equal distance from Philly and New York airports, for example, you’ll need to run multiple searches.
Doesn’t always find the cheapest price
When compared to other OTAs and flight search engines, Priceline rarely, if ever, found the cheapest flight prices in our searches. This includes Express Deals. So to find the best flight prices, you’ll want to search Priceline alongside other sites.
Too many “deal” options
This sounds crazy but stay with us here. There are almost too many competing deal options to choose from within Priceline. Obviously, this is a good thing overall, but with pop-ups and boxes offering different deals via the website, mobile app, and even over the phone, it can be hard to be sure that you’re getting the best deal possible.
No price alerts
Unlike many of the popular flight search engines and OTAs, Priceline doesn't currently allow you to set price alerts. So if you're waiting for prices to drop before booking your ticket, you'll just have to keep checking.
How to use Priceline
Step 1: Start with the basics
The process of searching for flights on Priceline is simple and very similar to that of comparable OTAs like Expedia or Skyscanner.
Go to Priceline and enter your essential flight details including dates and your ‘departing from’ and “going to” airports. At this step, you can also check to add a rental car or hotel to your search, making it easy to plan your trip all at once.
Step 2: Review and compare flight results
Priceline will give you your flight results beginning with the cheapest options first. You can also make some additional changes at this step, such as selecting the number of layovers that you’re willing to accept. For the purposes of this search, I chose the “up to 1 stop” option.
You’ll also notice that the very first flight listed is one of Expedia’s Express Deals that we mentioned above. We’ll expand on these below, but these flights can cost up to 50% less than other flight results.
Step 3: Select your departing and return flights
Once you’ve selected a departing flight that looks like a good fit, you’ll immediately be asked to choose a return flight.
Priceline will show you the price differences between the return flight options and even allows you to book a return flight with a different airline entirely, though these are almost always significantly more expensive.
Step 4: Booking your flight through Priceline
The purchasing process is equally straightforward. Once you’ve selected your desired itinerary, you’ll be taken to a page to confirm your selected flights, learn about your flight’s baggage policies, and select an upgrade if you’d like.
After selecting your cabin class, you'll be taken through the payment process that can be completed without ever leaving Priceline.
What are Priceline Express Deals?
Priceline Express Deals help you save up to 50% on your flight (or hotel stays) by keeping key details – such as layovers, departure times, and airlines – a secret until after your nonrefundable booking is made.
In our example earlier in this post, the express deal was promoted above all of the other flight options. However, you can search for Express Deals right from the homepage. Then, you’ll be shown the limited details for your flight. In our example, you can see that the flights will still be from our chosen airports but will have 0-2 layovers and can take off anytime between 6 am and 2 pm.
As you can see, Express Deals aren’t for picky travelers or those on a tight schedule. Instead, they’re a great option for flexible budget travelers to find cheap flights.
BY: ZACH ANDERSON, CONTENT MARKETING & FLIGHT EXPERT
Zach is a digital marketer, copywriter, and flight deal expert at Dollar Flight Club where he helps 1 million people travel more. As a digital nomad, he is deeply passionate about location independence, Thai food, and helping others see the world affordably.