About the only way to find “Last Minute Tickets” at a fair price is over the internet, so you will need a computer with an internet connection or have access to one. This is imperative as you will need to be able to do a number of searches in a relative short time.
Some things you should know before you start, the comments are restricted to internal flight, within the US and Canada. International flights have a different set of rules.
- 90+% of all sold airline tickets are distributed from a clearing house call ATCPO (Airline Tariff Publishing Company) which is owned, in partnership, by dozens of airline companies. It’s now the distribution hub for over 60 million tickets worldwide. Each airline files their fares continuously all day and then distributed to “subscribers” ie. agencies at specific times during the day. These fares are then loaded into the agencies booking systems.
Now the next thing to be aware of when you are hunting for a last minute ticket is that when tickets are put on the system the same seat will have a range of prices and there could be a difference of up to a $1000 between high and low and of course you are going to be sold the highest first.
As there are many rules controlling the price of the ticket a particular seat can be sold at dozens of different prices meaning prices can change at any time of the day.
- Also be aware that flight schedules that change have an effect on last minute ticket prices, this could include cancellations, mechanical breakdowns etc.
- Another thing that can have an effect on last minute ticket prices is “Aircraft Seat Inventory”. Airline use some very sophisticated tools based on historical and real-time sales data to ascertain how many seats will be sold at a articular time and for what price. This why people get so frustrated when shopping online for last minute tickets and why you should be checking 3-5 sites at a time. Let’s use this scenario – It costs the airline 15 cents per-mile per-seat to run the aircraft, they will calculate how many seats will have to be sold at that price before they can make a profit. Once they have this figure they will allocate so many seat at, say, 5 cents per mile and many more at a $1 per mile. So, obviously, it smart to buy when the cost of the last minute ticket is at the low end of the scale. One more thing to be aware of is that airlines mange their domestic revenue 4-5 months in advance, so if you are going to purchase a ticket 4-5 months in advance they will happily sell you a ticket at 20-30 cents per mile. Definitely not a good time to buy to get a good price.
So what are the tips for getting the best “Last Minute Ticket Prices”
- Know what a good price is
- Subscribe to a few email alert lists from different companies * Check the volatility of the market of the market place. If ticket prices are jumping aroud and you quick on “The Buy Now” button you will get bargain last minute ticket prices.
- Companies like Farecompare.com will give you ticket price history so check when the last minute ticket prices were at their best LAST YEAR. It doen’st always mean it will happen this year but, again it might. A good trick to have up your sleeve when hunting for the best last minute ticket price.
- Get to know the prices of your city pairs and if they are trending up because of outside forces, like fuel prices, it may be astute to buy as soon as possible even if it not at an all time low.
- The people who can pick up and leave at a moments notice will have a better chance of getting a better last minute price. I would be a little more cautious if you have to be a certain place at a certain time. Give yourself a little more leeway.
- The business and leisure break point is normally 14 days in advance, sometimes 21 days. You are not likely to get a good price on your last minute ticket.
If your are diligent enough you will, more than likely, stumble on some very good last minute ticket prices, but you will have to work at it.