Orbitz has launched a really interesting program where they will reimburse you the difference if the airfare you purchased drops before you fly (full details here). Anyone who has ever bought a ticket for leisure travel knows the feeling that perhaps you should’ve waited and the fare would drop – paying Orbitz’s $7 service fee is now essentially an insurance policy that assures you’ll pay the lowest fare.
There are two tiny details to know, but the program is basically as simple as that (the two things: Orbitz will know if a fare drops by seeing if anyone else has purchased a cheaper fare on your flights. It’s possible the fare will drop and no one will have purchased the tickets on Orbitz (this actually is quite likely – let’s say that 60% of tickets are booked online and half of those are on the airline’s website, leaving 30% for the 4 main online agencies – that would mean that Orbitz is selling about 7.5% of the tickets on a given flight. Figure that on average they’ve already sold half their allotment and that means that when you buy your ticket, Orbitz has yet to sell 3.75% of their allotment for a given flight. If the average flight has, let’s say, 150 seats on it, that means there are about 6 seats that they haven’t sold yet when you buy yours. The odds on the price dropping on one of those – especially considering the price goes up during the last 14 days or so – is pretty slim. It’s still a nice program, but there ya go…)
The other thing is that they have the right not to refund you the difference if your airline goes bankrupt or merges.) In any case, it’s a good marketing tool – look for Expedia/Travelocity/Priceline to watch this closely.