Sometimes there is just no way to avoid the need to travel at the last minute, but finding discounted or affordable airplane fares at the last minute can be a tall order. In fact, during heavy travel seasons it can be difficult to find an empty seat at all, let alone getting it at a discount. This is one primary reason why travel agents always encourage you to book your flight as early as possible.
In most cases, booking your air tickets as far in advance of your trip as possible is usually the best way to go for cheap airline tickets to your destination. When you secure your air tickets early, while there are still plenty of seats available, you will find that the airlines usually offer the cheapest airfares during this stage.
Waiting to book a flight until the last minute often means that there are very few seats left. When this happens, the airlines may charge a premium price for those seats that are left, especially during busy travel times.
And, even though it is true that the airlines have the upper hand, there are definitely times when opportunities for deeply discounted airplane fares for some last minute flights will come about. But, in order to benefit from those excellent values, you will have to be prepared to make a fast decision and to be ready to leave on very short notice.
One thing that is essential in obtaining great deals on those last minute flights is your ability to be flexible in your travel plans. If you want to save a lot of money on your tickets, then you must be flexible about the date and time of the flight, about the airline, about which airport you fly in and out of, and about how many stops you are willing to make en route to your destination. If you are willing to be inconvenienced by early morning or late night flights or by having a layover or having to change planes, then you will probably be able to enjoy the cheapest airfares even if you had to make your arrangements at the last minute.
When the airlines want to fill all of the seats on a plane quickly, they will drop their prices and will usually post these discount airfare prices on their website. These days, many airlines will offer these airfare deals only on their website, so it is important to monitor the website of the carrier you are considering.
Some airlines will send email alerts about reduced prices to frequent flyer program members or to others who have signed up for such notifications. Signing up for these alerts can give you an advantage and can save you the trouble of logging on many times a day when you are in need of finding the cheapest airfares.
In almost all cases of heavily discounted air tickets, there are greater restrictions on the tickets. It is important to be sure to read all of the fine print and the terms of discounted prices. Most discounted tickets are issued as non-refundable and non-transferable and can only be changed by paying a fee, which could outweigh the savings if a situation arises and you have to change the date of your flight. Many of these discount fares also have other limitations, such as requiring a stay over a weekend.
Typically, the special internet discounts on airplane fares are posted mid-week by the airlines for flights that will be leaving the following weekend. If you are trying to schedule your travel strictly around cheap airline tickets for last minute flights, then you will need to continually be checking in for changes to the fares. You should also be sure your bags are packed and you are ready to go, so that you can reap the benefits when just the right special fare comes along.