People travel for any number of reasons, from visiting family to attending work functions and sightseeing. While many of these travelers will tell you they plan their trip well in advance, a report from 2018 found that’s not always true.
In fact, that report found as many as 44% of leisure travelers booked their airfare at the very last minute. This trend isn’t decreasing, either, as the rise of digital travel planners makes it easier to book spontaneous adventures from the palm of their hands.
As last-minute travel plans are becoming more regular, many are asking if they can save money by purchasing flights at the last moment. In this article, we cover last-minute airfare booking, what airlines consider “last minute”, and some tips on saving money on last-minute travel.
How Late Can You Book Airfare?
Travelers have many reasons for booking last-minute airfare, from funerals to business trips to spur-of-the-moment getaways. Regardless of why you’re booking a last-minute trip, understanding how late you can book airfare can save you big when it comes time to pay for the flight.
For some, last-minute means anything booked within a week of departure, but airlines typically see last-minute as anything from within a couple of hours to about one week before departure. Within this time frame, ticket prices are higher and open seats become a rarity.
In the early days of air travel, booking last minute was common, and many airlines allowed passengers to pay for flights up until a few minutes before departure. However, because of security concerns and the mountain of paperwork required by airlines, the latest you can book flights is typically two or three hours before departure.
Of course, each airline has its own rules regarding last-minute airfare, and some airlines even restrict in-airport ticket sales, forcing passengers to book online. It may seem like an inconvenience, but it aids airline workers in getting everyone on board with the fewest delays.
Is It Cheaper to Book Flights Last Minute?
Like booking last minute at the airport, last-minute travel used to be the more affordable way to book plane tickets. Yet, airline executives discovered that most last-minute travelers were not on personal trips but rather business travelers.
The realization that business travelers made the bulk of last-minute traffic meant that airlines could raise ticket prices on last-minute fares without a drop in passenger traffic. The reason is business travelers don’t pay for airfare from their personal pocket, meaning they will still book flights.
In general, to land the best prices, it’s best to book flights with at least a few weeks until your travel dates. In some instances, if an airline has many empty seats, there will be a better chance of a deal, but it’s improbable.
Booking affordable airline tickets is easier than you imagine, especially when you partner with a travel expert like Business Class Experts. Our experts help you find cheap flights in business and first-class cabins, and you can enjoy the perks of a premium seat. Give us a call today to book your next trip!
How To Get Cheap Last-Minute Flights
Although the current landscape of ticket prices looks bleak, we’ve got the most effective tips you can use during your next flight search to uncover the lowest fares. Here’s how you can find the best last-minute flight deals.
Speak to the Airline Directly
Our digital world conditions us to shy away from human contact, but one of the most effective ways to uncover affordable last-minute tickets is to reach out and speak with the airline directly.
When you speak with an airline directly, you can find out if the flight you have your eye on has open seats and what the cost will be. You might even be able to negotiate with different airlines to obtain lower prices on flight tickets.
Consider a Different Endpoint
Before solidifying your travel plans, changing the arrival airport could also save you big on last-minute flights. For example, if you’re flying into New York City after your most recent European adventure, JFK might be a more pricey airport, but Newark’s EWR sits only 16 miles away and could offer more considerable savings.
When you are open to new endpoints, the option for more significant savings becomes available. More specifically, larger airports support more passenger traffic, which allows airlines to charge less. Regional airports, while providing a more pleasant travel experience, must charge more to support the same routes.
Check All Possible Airports
Like considering a different endpoint, checking departure airports can also help you land low fares. Let’s say you’re flying from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, but airfare last minute will cost an arm and a leg. Instead, the price could be significantly lower if you fly from Orlando because of the busier airport.
Also, international flights favor significant airports like Atlanta, Miami, and Los Angeles. When you select flights that depart from larger airports, you could end up saving big. Additionally, if you live in an area with multiple nearby airports, use a search engine, such as Google Flights, to search prices all at once, which allows you to find the best deal.
Try One-Way Flights
Round-trip flights are how many people search for airfare, but in some cases, a round-trip ticket could be more expensive than two one-way flights. When you book one way, you save some money on the return flight because you have more time between booking and your return trip.
That means you only pay last-minute prices for one ticket instead of both. The few days between your return and departure date can be more affordable than booking all at once. Of course, to find the best travel deals on round-trip, one-way, or multi-city adventures, book with Business Class Experts. We can find seats in premium cabins for up to 50% off!
Contact a Travel Expert
Finally, one of the best ways to save money on last-minute airfare is to connect with a travel expert. And by expert, we don’t mean online travel agencies like Expedia, Skyscanner, or Kayak. We recommend contacting a professional who forges relationships with airlines to uncover the best prices.
Professional travel agents are available through some credit card companies, such as Capital One or American Express. However, only Business Class Experts can help you land the best prices on first and business-class seats, not just aboard budget airlines. Call us today with your trip details to see how much you can save flying in comfort and at the last minute, too!
Don’t Wait — Book Ahead With Business Class Experts
Last-minute travel can create unnecessary stress, especially since airlines often charge more when you book closer to the departure time. Although prices for airfare take off when booking at the last second, using a few expert tips can keep more of your hard-earned cash in your pocket.
Don’t let high ticket prices deter you from flying your favorite airlines. Book airfare aboard Delta, American Airlines, Air Canada, and others in premium classes at a fraction of airline-direct prices with the help of Business Class Experts. Reach out today to fly in style with Business Class Experts!