Booking a last minute flight can be a real headache, if for no other reason than you are facing a huge expense for an airline ticket that would have cost a fraction if it had been purchased two short weeks ago. But there are ways to avoid paying the absolute highest prices for even those last minute airline tickets.
Of course, if you are trying to get a last minute flight for a vacation, you are going to be in a slightly better position – you may just want a quick getaway and not be so concerned with the “where,” so you may be able to find a serious bargain on a last minute ticket on a flight that the airline is just trying to fill up. But if you are traveling for business and you are stuck with a specific destination and even specific travel dates, your bargaining power is all but gone. Still, even if you are spending company money, let us look at a few ways to cut the cost of that last minute ticket.
First, although you have been given certain dates on which to travel, if you can adjust your travel days by even one day in either direction you might be able to get a better deal on an airline ticket. Often, traveling on a Tuesday or Wednesday instead of a Monday or Friday will make a big difference, so if you can manage it this is definitely something to look into. This kind of flexibility will serve you well when you are trying to save money on any travel, as well.
Second, be an educated traveler and learn to use last minute airfare websites like Priceline and Hotwire. These sites are designed to help you bargain for those unsold airline seats and get the best deal on them. It is a win-win situation, because the airline gets some money for the seat (more than it would if it were left empty, for sure!), and you also get a bit of a discount on a last minute seat. Learning to use these sites means putting in a bit of time to research what similar tickets are selling for in the real world out there before starting the bargaining process so you know what the ballpark is to start with.
Third, if you have other travel arrangements to make, see if you can book a package deal. You might think the word “packages” only applies to vacations and not business travel, but a package is just a combination of several travel commodities – from airfare to hotel rooms to car rentals, all of which are things most business travelers use frequently. If you compare the prices of each item booked separately, you may find that package deals will save you money overall.
Finally, if you find a good deal on a last minute ticket, you had better get it – these tickets do not last long, especially if they are at good prices, so be ready to pounce as soon as you find the price that works for you.