BID FAREWELL

Priceline has killed its “name-your-price” feature

Obsession
Getting There
Obsession
Getting There

Priceline’s eponymous website started out in 1997 with a feature that let customers name their own airfare. But more customers are booking on mobile, forcing travel sites to tweak their language and booking processes to be faster and simpler.

Partly for these reasons, the travel site has discontinued the “name-your-price” feature, a company spokesperson confirmed.

While Priceline—which also owns hotel-booking site Booking.com and travel-search site Kayak—got rid of its feature, travelers have been benefiting from low airfares this year. The average domestic roundtrip airfare in the US averaged an inflation-adjusted $361 in the first quarter of the year, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.

The recent annual low for a round trip was $351 in 2009—if plane tickets this year drop below that, they would be the cheapest in at least two decades.

It’s the result of more than two years’ of low oil prices and an oversupply of seats on board. Fare wars that have ensnared both international and US carriers have also led to historically low business class fares that are almost affordable.

So while Priceline customers won’t be able name their price, the troubles facing airlines are translating to favorable prices. That said, bidding for airline tickets isn’t dead—but the prizes are richer. (Do you really “win” with a seat in coach?)

Some airlines, much to the chagrin of frequent-flyer-mile holders, auction off seats in first class.

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