Yesterday, Continental Airlines announced a new FareLock service that allows you to hold a reservation for three or seven days and lock in the ticket price. Starting at $5 for a 3-day hold, and $9 for a 7-day hold, this seems to be a smart and easy-to-implement ancillary revenue stream.
I did a couple of dummy bookings last night to see what type of pricing really existed beyond the marketer’s advertised “from…” pricing, and they are pretty reasonable in my opinion. I looked at a 4-night trip from Los Angeles to Houston, leaving on a Monday in January, and was quoted $9 for a three-day hold or $19 for a seven-day hold. Curious to see how significantly that would jump for an international itinerary, I looked at Newark to London for 5-nights. It came out to the exact same pricing. While I was initially surprised to see the same pricing, I later thought it might be to avoid a complex structure, and allow them to gather data and perhaps fine-tune the program later.
From a systems perspective, this is incredibly easy to accommodate. Holding a reservation is nothing new, so it would just assign a 3- or 7-day ticketing time limit. Similarly, when a reservation is made, the price fared at that moment is stored in the record. Instead of repricing at the point of ticketing, it will simply generate the ticket at the stored fare.
While I don’t see myself ever really using this, I do think it’s great for people who are unsure about taking a trip and want a little insurance.
Tip of the hat to One Mile At A Time.