Maybe you folks know how to use this (hacker fare) but I’ve been booking airline flights for 32 years to dozens of cities and never used this particular internet approach before. It saved me hundreds of dollars on a round trip from California to Indiana.
The majority of my “online” bookings have been with Expedia. I’ve never had a problem with Expedia bookings and when I had to reach them, their customer service was excellent.
So, it’s natural for me to “start” with Expedia and go from there. Because I usually bus to LAX from Bako, I don’t do the “Hotwire” thing because it is normally incompatible with the bus schedule on both ends of the trip. Hotwire usually books the red-eyes and can save some bucks, but it’s not worth a 6-8 hour wait on a bus, if you need one like I do.
A few years ago, I started comparing my Expedia pricing with the other offerings. You can get one travel browser to check out every possible price. That website is Kayak. http://www.kayak.com/
Kayak will compare Priceline, Expedia, Travelocity, CheapOAir and Hotwire in seconds. They will also check (at the same time) all fares from LAX, Burbank, Ontario and John Wayne.
After a myriad (I hate that word and promise to never use it again) of prices came on the screen, I scanned the list and one “extra” cheap price had small print beneath it that said “hacker fare.”
Most of the airline round trip pricing was $475 to $580. There, before my eyes, marked hacker fare, was a round trip available for $370…now we’re talking. I clicked on the Frontier Airlines offer that said, “hacker fare”, and a scary looking “warning” label appeared on the screen and, basically told me, “Read this, Advance at your own risk, Don’t say we didn’t warn you, Beware, It’s not our fault if anything horrendous happens.”
Of course I clicked on it.
The cool thing about Kayak is all booking, seating and paying is done with the actual airline…no middle man. (you pay Expedia and they do all the booking)
BUT…what the hacker fare does is give you two different airlines that have an empty seat or 2, and need to sell it…cheaper than normal.
This is where you first take a blood-pressure pill and then open each site separately. It will show how many seats are available going and coming back. That’s fine, but what if you book the Frontier heading west, pay for it (non-refundable, but insurable) and then you go to book USAir coming west and the seat’s been sold? Ugh! When I pulled this minor miracle off last month, each flight had only ONE seat available. I entered all my information at both sites, including my credit card number. Then, all I had to do was book Frontier one way and quickly book the return USAir flight.
What made the scenario scary were the prices staring at me for a one way ticket. The cheapest price was MORE than the round trip price. Some were as much as $900 ONE WAY!
As I clicked the Frontier “submit” button, the thought raced through my mind, this could be a disaster.
My “Explorer” tool bar had the little circle spinning (telling me it was looking to open the page that said…”you just paid for a ticket”.
The page crashed…went to the dumb Explorer page that says the “page you are searching for is not available.”
I was sunk. Did Frontier get my money? Do I have a ticket booked? Should I quickly buy the USAir flight to get back to Bako?
I opened the “submit” page for USAir and clicked it. It crashed with the same error message. Did I have two tickets, do I do it again?
I called the customer service desk at Frontier. The girl was wonderful. She quickly confirmed my ticket and emailed them to me. I called the customer service desk at USAir…same thing. A sweet lady confirmed I had purchased the ticket and the agreed upon price and Voila!
I’m thinking the “confirmation page crashing” has to be a computer error on my end and I will look into that.
I’m thrilled with my price, my flight times are perfect and I recommend trying this on your next round trip air flight.
I’ll provide the blood-pressure pills.