Welcome to a new weekly series called Tuesday Tools and Tips. This will be a series to help the traveler and runner with various tools and tips that will help to make your training and traveling easier. If you have suggestions or questions that would apply to this weekly series, feel free to contact me and let me know and I will work it in!
Tuesday Tools and Tips – Orbitz Price Assurance
If you have ever shopped for anything, whether it be tools at a hardware store, electronics, office supplies, or travel, I’m sure you have seen “guarantees” that cover a price match. In other words, if you find a product at a lower price from a competitor, the idea is that the offerer will match that price and often will give back a percentage of the difference. The problem comes if you look at the small print – more often than not, you will find many qualifiers: must be the same exact item (which with electronics can be difficult sometimes since the product may be the same but the manufacturer may have given a different product number for each retailer), must be in stock, must not be an online store, must have one within a specified distance of that store, must not include coupons or store discounts, etc. They make it as a great advertising ploy but in real-life, you will find it hard to actually get that match.
With travel it can be just as difficult. You will find that all of the above exceptions apply in a similar fashion with travel sites. Enter Orbitz! Most people that buy from Orbitz do not do so because of their Price Assurance. In fact, most people have probably never heard of that before. But it can be extremely helpful in the right situation. I had found about it totally by accident a few years ago and couldn’t have been happier with the experience!
Orbitz Price Assurance
Orbitz Price Assurance is where Orbitz tracks the purchases of other customers after you have made your travel purchase. They track to see if any other customer pays less for the same exact itinerary. If someone does, they will give you a 110% refund of the difference in the form of “Orbucks” – Orbitz travel credits. This works for airline credits of $5 – $250 and hotel bookings from $5 – $500.
This is an excellent program because airline travel purchases can be a hair-pulling incident. You do your best to track the prices of your ticket that you are going to buy. Finally, out of fear that it will climb, you jump and buy your airline ticket. One week after you make your purchase, the price of the ticket drops $120. Don’t you hate that? The cancellation fee is $150, so you would be out $30 if you cancelled and re-bought it.
If you purchased that ticket through Orbitz, all you have to do is wait for someone else to purchase the same exact ticket at the lower price and you will receive a refund! That is a great peace of mind!
Go here for the terms and explanations of Orbitz Price Assurance
My Experience with Orbitz Price Assurance
When I was getting flights for my marathons around the world in 2009, I went through Orbitz to purchase my flight on Korean Air from Los Angeles to Sao Paulo. There was only non-stop flight that was from Los Angeles to Sao Paulo, so I knew I had to get that flight. The problem was that the ticket was over $800 for the one-way (actually, it was my most expensive ticket of the whole trip!). However, since I had no choice, I went ahead and bought it. Five weeks later, the price dropped $200! I kept hoping someone would purchase the same ticket so I could get the refund (you only get credit if someone purchases the same exact itinerary). Sure enough, someone ended up buying it and I got a check in the mail when I got home for the difference (they no longer issue checks but credit to be used on Orbitz). That was a very nice treat!
When to Use Orbitz for the Price Assurance
I still book through Orbitz on occasion, not as much as I used to because I like to book directly through the airlines if the price is the same. However, when I think a ticket price might come down but I don’t want to take the chance of it rising, I think about booking through Orbitz. I say think because the scenario has to be right to expect to receive a refund credit from Orbitz Price Assurance. Remember, it has to be the same exact itinerary on the same exact day in the same cabin. Here are some ways that it is helpful to book through Orbitz for the protection of their Price Assurance:
- When flying from a major airport to another major airport (like JFK-Los Angeles or Chicago)
- When flying during peak travel season (more people will purchase after you and if the price comes down at all, you are set)
- When flying international (prices tend to fluctuate quite often for international travel and people are always buying international tickets)
Pay special attention to the one-ways and major airports suggestions. It is not a very smart move for me to book a flight from Rochester, NY to St. George, UT (round/trip) with the hope of receiving a refund from the Orbitz Price Assurance. The reason is that, while people may purchase flights in the future for the same itinerary (though doubtful, due to the small market airports), they may be returning a day later or a day earlier than one of my segments which negates the Price Assurance. However, if I was purchasing a ticket for JFK-Salt Lake City, one-way, the chances are very good that someone will book the exact same ticket.
The Orbitz Price Assurance can be a very useful technique to purchase tickets when you feel they are low enough yet still not positive that it will not come down some more. Pay attention to the tips ahead and try it for your next similar trip!