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Friday, March 20, 2009

Priceline.com to Offer Price Guarantee on Airline Tickets, Travel Packages
As Originally Posted to The Wall Street Journal

Priceline.com Inc. is expected to announce Thursday that it will launch a price guarantee on airline ticket purchases and package bookings such as cheap Bahamas Cruises made through June 1, similar to programs announced recently by other online travel agencies.

The "Pricedrop Protection" program promises to automatically reimburse travelers if they book an airline ticket or cheap Caribbean cruises on priceline.com, and then someone else books the same ticket or package at a lower price. The reimbursement will be available for airline ticket price drops of between $1 and $300, from $1 to $600 on packages involving a hotel booking, and up to $300 for air and rental-car packages.

Orbitz Worldwide Inc. announced a similar, though long-term program for airline-ticket reimbursement, called "Price Assurance," last June.

Over the past few weeks, online travel agencies have found themselves in a bit of a promotion war. Expedia Inc. announced last week they would drop booking fees on airline ticket purchases until May 31, matching a long-term program already in play at Priceline.com and Expedia Inc.'s Hotwire.com.

Then, earlier this week, Travelocity.com, which is a unit of Sabre Holdings Corp., dropped booking fees on airline tickets and launched a price guarantee on vacation packages like cheap Canada cruises—both through May 31. It promised to refund a price difference, from $10 to $500, if a different Travelocity customer buys the same package for a cheaper price at a later date.