Buying airplane tickets online can be a nerve-wracking affair – is now the right time to buy? Will the prices go up? Will the prices go down? Chicago start up Options Away looks to alleviate some of the stress by letting customers lock-in airfare for up to three weeks, reserving tickets and then giving them time to think about their travels before purchasing.
Currently only available on domestic flights, but expanding to international flights this spring, Options Away lets customers lock in certain fares from one to three to 21 days, all at varying cost. Obviously, the longer you choose to hold a fare, the more expensive the fee is ($36 for the longest hold).
Currently, United Airlines, Air France and KLM all have different fare guarantee programs, but it remains a fringe trend in airline travel. Robert Brown and his wife Heidi, who started the company together in September, hope to take it mainstream. Mr Brown told Bloomsberg Businessweek that the main appeal lies in the convenience.
The program offers ease of mind to ‘people who are planning complex trips, especially if there are a lot of people involved, or if they’re trying to coordinate multiple elements of a trip, like a cruise or a sightseeing option,’ he said.
Brown also sees his company as a data-gathering goldmine. From seeing what flights people reserve prices for and which ones they end up purchasing rather than let expire, demand could be determined and could affect pricing. Says Brown:
In 18 months, I like to think we will have a set of data that is of huge value.
Source: Bloomsberg Businessweek
Image: The Option Specialist