UP CLOSE WITH HISTORY
Travelers booking a cruise vacation often lock in on a particular sailing first, then consider airfare booking options to get them to the embarkation port. Some simply find the flights that work on their favorite airline, book them and call it a day. Others dig deep, tapping a variety of sources for guidance and comparison. During the process, they wish they could hold flights for several days, like with their potential cruise booking. On some airlines they can, others not. Until now.
The idea surely grabs our attention; “hold your flight for days or weeks while you finalize your travel plans,” says Options Away, a web site all about giving airfare shoppers time to zero in on their best airfare options. Like putting a complementary hold on a cruise ship cabin, Options Away gives airfare buyers the chance to hold a fare they like for a period of time. Unlike the complementary hold offered by cruise lines, Options Away has a fee, based on the length of time users want to hold a flight; $4 for one day up to $40 for three weeks.
The Same Idea Behind Cruise Line Airfare Options
Like Kayak, Bing, Orbitz and other airfare booking and shopping sites, Options Away uses similar technology tapping statistical projections to decide how much to charge to hold a given fare. Similar technology brought cruise lines back into the airfare game when they had all but stopped selling it. This is also the reason why cruise travelers buying airfare through the cruise line find out the difference between “booked” and “ticketed” airfare when trying to enter their frequent flyer numbers in a cruise line air reservation: The cruise line ‘booked’ the flight, guarantees the price, but is trying to let those algorithms work to their advantage, finding the same way to get you there and back for less before ‘ticketing’ it, a price difference they pocket and their profit in the deal.
- The ability to hold flights, longer than normal, on multiple airlines by visiting one web site.
- Good for the undecided. Not sure exactly where or when you want to fly? Options Away might be a good choice to lock in flights for multiple dreams. Traveling with ‘iffy’ plans? Again, Options Away users can lock in a price without buying an being subject to change penalties later.
- Peace of Mind- If having peace of mind that flight prices are locked in is important enough, the fee might very well be worth it
“The idea is to make a quick, simple purchase that minimizes the amount of thinking the consumer needs to do,” said Ryan Houck, Level Skies chief executive in an LATimes article
- We can already do this on a number of airlines. United Airlines, for example has FareLock that allows holding fares for a fee on select flights operated by United and United Express (Star Alliance® flights and marketed codeshare flights are not eligible).
- 24-hour holds are already available. That’s required by federal regulations.
- Pricing is exactly the same as the airline websites. We tried, that’s what we found.
Fees run from about $5 to hold a round-trip ticket for 24 hours; $14 to $25 for seven days; $18 to $30 for 14 days; and $36 to $50 for 21 days.
Another Airfare Booking Tool To Consider
We think the best bet is to remember Options Away exists but not count on it as a primary airfare booking source. Instead, subscribe and read JohnnyJet’s daily newsletter and visit AirfareWatchdog to add flight alerts for those multiple destinations you can’t decide on yet. Over time, you’ll get an idea of what flights cost and be able to jump on an outstanding offer when available.
Back It Up
In reality, odds are that the cruise will be booked before the flights and that’s fine. Unless booking very restricted cruise fares or last-minute flash deals, we can also cancel that cruise any time before final payment and get all our money back. For that reason, before booking in the first place, decide on a cruise that works and check airfare from multiple sources to get an idea of what it might cost. If the budget is $200 per person and no sources have it for less than $500 per person, odds are luck will have to be with us to get close to that $200. If so, consider traveling at another time if the price of airfare is a deal breaker.
If a quick check of multiple sources reveals that airfare is close to a price that will work with the travel budget, book the cruise and start digging deeper for the best airfare booking options.
Here’s more on Options Away: