Expedia is eliminating booking fees on all domestic and international flights booked by May 31. The offer is that simple: Expedia will waive its booking fee (normally around $7) through the end of May. There you have it.
Expedia is also offering free nights at hundreds of hotels across the U.S., Canada, Mexico, and the Caribbean. Depending on the property, guests can receive a free night with a three-, four-, or five-night stay. Rates start at $21 per night, and air-and-hotel packages are priced from $158. Hotels must be booked by April 9 for stays through May 15. Expedia will add new deals on April 9 for travel through May 31.
There are two interesting themes at play here. First, Expedia's deals follow several other recession-oriented offers, notably JetBlue's refund for laid-off passengers. Second, Expedia's sale follows speculation that providers, from online travel agents to airlines themselves, may be forced to reduce their fees and surcharges as a means of attracting business. Of course, those fees are major revenue drivers, particularly for the airlines, so cutting them might be painful. We'll just have to wait and see.
Update, March 19: Travelocity and Priceline have both launched competing offers. Travelocity waived its booking fee and is offering a price-protection plan, and Priceline, which doesn't charge a booking fee, has a price-protection promotion as well.
(Editor's Note: SmarterTravel is a member of the TripAdvisor Media Network, an operating company of Expedia, Inc. Expedia, Inc. also owns Expedia.com.)