There is no shortage of ways to save big bucks on plane tickets. We’ve got plenty of tips to book the cheapest flights possible.
And then there are Priceline Express Deals.
A relatively new entrant in the arena of booking cheap flights, Priceline has upped their game with these extra-special (and sometimes, extra cheap) discounts. But there are some critical things to know before you book.
Read on to learn more about Priceline Express Deals and how they can save you hundreds.
What Are Priceline Express Flight Deals?
If you search for airfare often on Priceline, you’ve likely come across this box, notifying you of an “Express Deal.” Priceline Express Deals can pop up when you search for a flight deal in Priceline.
Typically, this option shows up for more popular international routes, and are not as common to see on domestic or less-traveled routes. In the example below, the Express Deal offer is for $141 less than the next cheapest flight to Europe on Priceline.
Priceline’s website states that Express Deals can save users up to 40% off their ticket for their desired departure, destination, and travel date range. Here’s the concept: airlines give discounts to online travel agencies (OTA) like Priceline, allowing them to offer deals on airfare to consumers that won’t be available elsewhere. And while there are some major factors to keep in mind with booking through an OTA versus an airline, the savings can be real.
And Priceline takes that to the next level with Express Deals.
What Should I Know About Priceline Express Deals?
You’re probably thinking to yourself, “This is too good to be true!” Luckily, Priceline makes it easy to understand why these flight prices are cheaper.
There are a few critical components to keep in mind about Express Deals.
- Express Deals are different from almost any airfare you buy. When booking through Express Deals, the airline you will be flying is shown only after booking the ticket. This flight deal service is similar to the Hopper Secret Fare: The airline is revealed only after you book the ticket. But don’t worry, these are major international airlines – not budget carriers.
- An Express Deal’s full itinerary is not disclosed prior to purchase. This means that only details of general timing are given prior to purchase, such as “evening takeoff” or “morning takeoff”, as seen in the photo below. Click through each fare and it will show you some more details on your itinerary – most will say they are either nonstop or one-stop flights. Exact departure and return times are revealed after purchasing the ticket.
- According to the Priceline website, Express Deal flights are non-refundable and non-changeable. Again, similar to Hopper Secret Fares, all Express Deal airfare sales are final. This is in contrast to other flights booked on Priceline, which typically honor a 24-hour cancellation policy. That policy does not apply to Express Deal bookings.
- Priceline indicates that the Express Deal fares do not earn frequent flyer miles. However, we can not yet confirm this. We suspect this is highly dependent on the carrier you are flying. Typically, on non-Express Deal fares booked with Priceline or any other online travel agency site, you can still earn miles.
- Each Express Deal will be different, but some will include a free carry-on bag and advanced seat selection. Compare that to many typical flights to Europe, for example, and you may find that most other options are basic economy and don’t include seat selection. The Express Deal might be a few hundred dollars cheaper and get you more!
How Do I Use an Express Deal?
Start by heading over to Priceline and entering your desired departure city, destination, and travel dates.
If there is an Express Deal available for that route, an “Express Deals” box will pop up before the first regular flight option listed on the Priceline search results page. To learn more about the Express Deal, just click “Select.”
Priceline reminds you that the flight details will be revealed after you book. They also show several trusted airlines, one of which will be the airline you’ll fly on for this deal.
Priceline offers an estimation of when the flight will depart and arrive, as well as when it will return. As you can see below, this deal will have a mid-day takeoff between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. Due to the length of international flights, you can see this flight may arrive early the next day. For the return flight, Priceline notes that it will be a morning takeoff between 6 a.m. and 2 p.m., and will arrive the same day.
This flight is either nonstop or one-stop, with a maximum layover of 3 hours. And don’t worry: you’ll see all of these details once you’ve booked.
If that all sounds good to you and you’re ready to book your cheap flight, click the green “Continue” button to fill out your personal and billing information. The total Express Deal price includes taxes and fees, but additional baggage fees may apply. Once you confirm and submit, Priceline will immediately open a new window with your flight details, including exact departure and return times and the airline you’ll be flying.
Example Express Deal Flight Details
All flight details are disclosed immediately after booking on the Priceline site, as well as in the confirmation email. The confirmation email includes the details below:
Again, Priceline states these fares may not earn frequent flyer miles but that may vary based on the airline you are flying.
How Do Priceline Express Deals Compare to Other Flight Deals?
All things considered, if you are looking for a cheap flight deal and are flexible on departure and return time frames, Priceline Express Deals are worth considering.
They can often save you hundreds compared to other Priceline fares. They also often include free seat assignment, which basic economy fares do not.
In comparison to a similar option, the Hopper Secret Fares don’t provide as deep of discounts – or nearly as much flight deal availability. I’d definitely pick Priceline Express Deals over Hopper Secret Fares.
However, it’s worth noting that there are some drawbacks to booking with an online travel agency like Priceline as opposed to booking directly with the airline. We always recommend starting your search with Google Flights and seeing what it costs to book directly with the airline. It may be a bit more expensive, but it can mean more peace of mind.
If your schedule is flexible, you’re open to flying most airlines, and you’re willing to roll the dice, Express Deals can be a great way to save on airfare.
Compared to other deals you find via Priceline – or other search engines – Express Deals are often hundreds of dollars less. And many times, these fares even include advance seat assignment.
We still recommend checking Google Flights to see how much it costs to book directly with the airline. But if you don’t mind a bit of mystery about your trip, you could save big money with Priceline Express Deals.
Editorial Note: Any opinions, analyses, reviews, or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any card issuer.