Are Mystery Flights Worth It?

The Wall Street Journal ran an interesting report on “blind booking” flights. This is a marketing ploy of sorts that’s been around for a while, and while it often means a traveler doesn’t know where he or she is going, the trip will be cheap. Is it worth it?

LISTEN: See how Rick Seaney’s mystery flight turned out.

Mystery Flights

Most  mystery deals we’re aware of are for travelers outside the U.S. but not all. Some examples:

Germanwings: The Lufthansa-owned discount carrier Germanwings (headquartered in Cologne) offers “blind booking” deals; current prices start at 33 euros one-way (about $36 US). Choose a departure from three airports in Germany, then click a category such as Sun and Beach, Gay-friendly, Shopping and more and once your booking is complete, your destination is revealed.

Virgin Australia: The Brisbane-headquartered international airline offers flight+hotel deals called Mystery Breaks. Departure points are major Australian airports; possible destinations include a wide range of cities across the country. Current prices begin with one night packages for $435 per person (about $305 US).

Priceline: In this case, there are two mysteries. First, you choose your departure and destination cities and the mystery is the price which is revealed before payment via the site’s Name Your Price tool. The second mystery is the airline; it is not revealed until after payment is made. Although the site did not match the price we named as we tested the tool, it did provide a very good deal on a cross-country flight in mid-October.

Is it worth it? It all depends on where you are and how adventurous you are. If you’re the kind of person who must know what airline you’ll fly and where you’ll go, this might not be a deal at all.

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Updated: September 22, 2015