Last minute airfares 101
Basic tips on landing last-minute airfare deals
Depending on your destination and the time of year, getting a good deal on a last-minute flight can be a real challenge. Booking a flight as much in advance of your travel dates as you can will typically get you less-expensive airline tickets for your desired route. But sometimes, if you can act quickly and fly out fast, you can land substantial airfare savings on the fly. Here are some basic tips on landing last-minute airfare deals.
You can up your odds of netting a good last-minute deal by being flexible about flight times, the airline and the airport from which you’ll fly as well as the number of flights you’ll take to reach your final destination. If you want to save, prepare to be inconvenienced whether it means taking early morning flights or having to change planes.
Monitor airline Web sales
When airlines need to fill up a plane fast, they post Web-only fares at deep discounts. In some cases, they also e-mail deals to those who’ve signed up for such alerts or to members of their frequent-flyer programs. However, some deals have fine print that may limit their value to you. Some of these airfares are often non-refundable and require a Saturday night stay.
Web fares are typically posted mid-week for travel that weekend. Check the airline Web sites for last-minute Web fares – and have your bags packed.
Buy a vacation package
If you can’t find a last-minute flight, consider a bargain-priced vacation deal. Vacation packagers buy blocks of flights to bundle with hotel nights. As departure dates approach, unsold packages are offloaded at discounted prices. You may be able to purchase an entire package at less than the cost of an available flight.
Consider a travel consolidator
Consolidators are the wholesalers of the industry. They buy large blocks of tickets from the airlines at a volume price. This practice helps the airlines by ensuring that a certain number of seats are sold in advance, which boosts overall capacity on various flights. Consumers benefit because consolidators resell these seats for less than the airline’s advertised prices. Cheapflights has built long-term relationships with the world’s top consolidators and a quick search can identify airfare deals for your preferred destinations.
Don’t overlook student and youth fares
There are plenty of organizations that cater to student travelers. Search for student-only airfares or try last-minute stand-by tickets for reduced fares. There are also youth fares — discounted tickets for ages 18-22 and you don’t have to be a student to use them. Search for youth airfare programs and start saving now.