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Old Aug 1, 12, 4:15 pm   #1
 
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Bidding for cheap flights ... new site ...

I was just sent a link to this new startup, http://flightfox.com ...

It seems like people can only really compete by finding a combination of legacy and low cost carriers, or finding the cheapest booking site (lowest fees).

It doesn't make sense to use this site unless you have a complicated itinerary....

UNLESS people are ok with revealing tricks.

If successful, I feel like there may be some great implications to how airlines price their tickets (code their ticket charges). I presume the winning bids (cheapest tickets) would be ones that are tricked, and the one launching the contest would notice strange parts on his/her ticket.

I do think flightfox should ask for bids on award tickets - now that may be more interesting (at least in the beginning ...)

Any thoughts?
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Old Aug 1, 12, 8:19 pm   #2
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Interesting. Wonder if any FlyerTalkers are "contestants"...
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Old Aug 3, 12, 1:43 am   #3
 
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I signed up as an "expert" we'll see... I'm intrigued.
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Old Aug 3, 12, 2:21 pm   #4
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So I've been toying around with the site over the past few days... it's interesting - lots of flaws, but interesting.

The process works like this:
  1. You decide your itinerary cities, possible dates, and a few preferences (multiple stops? long layovers? many airlines?)
  2. A timer starts and a public Q&A opens for any clarifications
  3. The "experts" find ways to book your trip - everything is in play... multiple tickets, fuel dumps, whatever
  4. The expert gives you the complete flight details and hides the step-by-step booking instructions, until you pay the finder's fee
  5. At the end of the timer (or whenever you want) you pick a "winner"
  6. You have 24 hours to book the trip, using the winner's previously hidden booking instructions and additional Q&A, if necessary
Some obvious flaws are apparent in their model. The expert has to give you the complete itinerary before you award it. Thus, unless there is a real trick involved, nothing stops them from simply searching for those flights on their own.

There's also apparently no requirement that a winner ever be picked. Many of the "contests" open have no interaction from the customer since they were posted. It's quite possible to do a lot of work with no chance of ever being paid.

It's an interesting diversion... not sure it's more than that. But we'll see what they do with it as the developers gain more experience with the concept.

If you want to try it as a customer, there's a 25% discount on your first posting using a referral link. Per FT policy, let's start this as a Conga. I'll be first:

http://flightfox.com/referral/18978

Last edited by MDtR-Chicago; Aug 3, 12 at 2:28 pm.
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Old Aug 3, 12, 3:21 pm   #5
 
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Hi All,

I'm a co-founder of Flightfox. Happy to answer any questions.

For those who don't know how Flightfox works, here's the ideal scenario:
  • Customer posts trip details
  • Experts reply with 2-3 ideal flights with different selling points
  • Customer chooses flight, books, awards winner, that's it.

The value proposition is that a customer pays a fixed fee to get access to people focussed on finding the best flights (not up-selling hotels, etc). It's especially suited to people who know what's possible, but don't have the time or skills to do it themselves.

As you can imagine, there are a lot of variables that create friction. Right now, we're working hard to improve the initial data we collect so the experts have more to work with from the outset. We think this is the key to increasing value for both customers and experts.

For example, we plan to ask about baggage, age of passengers, cost vs convenience, ideal airline alliance, etc.

There's a lot more that needs work, but we're getting to it all based on priorities. I'll keep an eye on this thread and adjust our priorities along the way. Right now we're working on the Contest creation wizard and we're increasing the auto-generated flight information (such as flight duration). We're also working on getting auto-awarding back online (long story), so experts should expect a flurry of awards in the next 48 hours.

All the best,
Todd @ Flightfox
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Old Aug 3, 12, 11:28 pm   #6
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MDtR-Chicago View Post
[*]The "experts" find ways to book your trip - everything is in play... multiple tickets, fuel dumps, whatever
Considering how secretive the fuel dump clique is, I'd be very surprised if any of them posted an itinerary that involved a fuel dump.
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Old Aug 3, 12, 11:36 pm   #7
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Originally Posted by dogcanyon View Post
Considering how secretive the fuel dump clique is, I'd be very surprised if any of them posted an itinerary that involved a fuel dump.
It's actually listed in the "rules" for experts - any fuel dumps must be disclosed and explained, in case the flyer is unfamiliar with the technique.
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Old Aug 6, 12, 12:47 am   #8
 
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Is the site good for international destinations as well?
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Old Aug 6, 12, 7:50 am   #9
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Is the site good for international destinations as well?
Yes
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Old Aug 6, 12, 9:46 pm   #10
 
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How much is the fee you usually have to pay?
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Old Aug 6, 12, 10:08 pm   #11
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I priced SFO-LHR

in December and it would have been somewhere around $45. I didn't go through as if they DON'T beat your price point you still have to pay the fee.
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Old Aug 9, 12, 12:12 pm   #12
 
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Originally Posted by squeakr View Post
in December and it would have been somewhere around $45. I didn't go through as if they DON'T beat your price point you still have to pay the fee.
This was my first concern after I visited the site. The individual who responded to my e-mail (one Lauren McLeod) stated that while the commission money is taken up front, there is no obligation to accept any quote, and if in the end I was dissatisfied, she would refund the commission money.

(NB: I have not actually done this yet, so I am only reporting on what was told me. If this thing is on the up and up, and could save me even $50 when I start seeing a price dip, it would be worth all the digging around.)
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Old Aug 9, 12, 1:20 pm   #13
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Originally Posted by rico567 View Post
(NB: I have not actually done this yet, so I am only reporting on what was told me. If this thing is on the up and up, and could save me even $50 when I start seeing a price dip, it would be worth all the digging around.)
It's legitimate. I've been responding to offers on and off this week. It seems like the population breaks down roughly -

Passengers:
50% post their contest, respond to a few comments, then completely ignore it and never award (usually the contest is eventually auto-awarded)
25% are very interested, respond quickly, and book immediately
25% have extremely unreasonable expectations for travel - even when the flight options are exactly what they requested, they won't award it because it's not "good enough"

Experts:
50% are of average ability and just post whatever they find with web searches
25% work way too hard to shave off a few dollars (which works out for the passengers)
25% post offers that are extremely shady - like illegitimate websites or high risk connections

Just educated guesses based on what I've seen. As an "expert" it's just barely holding my interest right now. But most of the passengers ARE saving money, even after the finder's fee... assuming their itineraries are actually bookable.

(Note: I haven't actually been paid for anything yet. Will probably request a check next week to see if it works.)

EDIT: At some point around September 2012, I did request a payment and received it promptly. But it's just too much work to be worthwhile (for me, at least).

Last edited by MDtR-Chicago; Jul 18, 13 at 11:27 am.
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Old Aug 16, 12, 6:19 am   #14
 
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...................

Last edited by belfordrocks; Feb 14, 13 at 7:46 am.
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Old Jul 16, 13, 9:01 pm   #15
 
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Originally Posted by black milk View Post
I signed up as an "expert" we'll see... I'm intrigued.
So how do you like it???

w6fg
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