If you have to travel at the last minute, then it's possible to find some amazing deals online. It doesn't matter what your reason is for traveling at the last minute, whether a death in the family, wanting to surprise someone or just for fun - spend some time online and you might just score yourself an amazing airfare deal.
First, let's define last minute. Generally, last minute airfares are available between 3 and 14 days before the flight is scheduled. They don't tend to stick around for long, so you need to grab a good deal very quickly. So why do airlines offer such cheap prices? Mostly it's because they've got enough passengers to schedule the flight, but not enough to fill the plane. So rather than fly half full, they'll offer cheap airfares at the last minute to fill up the seats. Because they're so cheap, they are usually purchased immediately, so the airline can relax, knowing the plane is full. Better to sell a seat for a cheap fare than earn nothing at all from an empty one.
The good news is that it's easy to find cheap last minute airfares online. The main problem is finding them for the dates you want to travel, or for flights to your destination. So if you have very specific travel plans, you may not find a cheap last minute airfare. But if you can be a little bit flexible with your travel details, perhaps moving your travel plans forward or backwards by a day, then you might just get lucky.
There are plenty of sites to choose from, with Site59.com and 11thhoursvacations.com being two of the most popular. It's a perfect match - airlines who want to get rid of spare seats at the last minute, and travelers who want to grab a bargain.
So, what do you do if you can't find a cheap flight that suits your plans? Well, one option is to try flying to another airport close by. There's likely to be another airport within a couple of hours drive of home, so try looking for flights from that airport instead. It might take you a couple of hours extra to get to the airport, but if you save yourself hundreds of dollars on the airfare, it's worth it.
You can also try bidding for a last minute airfare at a website like Priceline.com. They take your offer, and then try to match it up with an offer from an airline offloading empty seats. The only problem is that there's no guarantee they'll find anything, so you may not end up with a flight. Also, be aware that if you make a big and an airline accepts it, you have to pay the fee, whether you've found a better airfare elsewhere or not. Still, it's another option you can try in the quest for cheap last minute airfares.
Finally, check out the websites of some discount airlines that fly to your destination. They often have last minute airfare deals, and are worth a look. Make sure you read their fine print carefully, though, in case they have conditions such as a no refund policy. Good luck with your search for cheap last minute airfares, and happy traveling!