What You Need To Know Before Booking Your Last Minute Flight: Uncovering The Question Of ‘Cheaper Or More Expensive’
Booking last minute flights can be a double-edged sword. On one hand, you can find great deals if you know where to look. On the other, there is no easy way to ensure that you are getting the best prices, or that the flights are operating without delays or cancellations. While these risks can seem daunting, understanding the landscape and being prepared can help you make an informed decision when it comes to booking a last-minute flight.
For starters, the availability of cheap fares often depends on where you’re going and when. You can sometimes grab good deals heading to vacation spots that aren’t as high-demand as the summer months. If you are in a position to be flexible on which airport you fly out of, that can open up additional flight options at a lower cost. If time is of the essence, finding out which airlines are offering non-stop flights to your final destination is the best way to guarantee you don’t miss your connection.
However, not all last-minute flights are more expensive. If you know which deals, airline promotions, and less-travelled routes to look out for, it is possible to snag a bargain; sometimes, you can even find early-bird fares that cost less than buying months in advance. Flexibility is key to success here: It’s best to have a few days padding on either side of your trip so that you can adjust in case the flight is cancelled or delayed.
The best way to find a good last-minute deal is to set up an alert. You can do this on many flight comparison websites, such as Skyscanner or Expedia. These sites compare prices across hundreds of providers, giving you an easy way to spot the cheapest fare. Look out for discounts for long-term or frequent flyers, or for students and senior citizens. And of course, always be sure to read the fine-print, as deals can come with hidden catches.
Similarly, the way you pay for your flight can make a difference. It’s often cheaper to pay in full upfront, but some airlines offer an installment plan that allows for you to pay for the ticket in smaller increments. Also, look out for deals and bundle options that include extras like airport transfers and accommodation.
Finally, never consider that just because you are booking last minute that you have to make a less-than-aware decision. Don’t feel rushed to purchase the first ticket option that comes up on your screen. Doing a bit of research can sometimes save you a lot of money. Take your time to compare prices across airlines and consider the advantages and disadvantages of each deal.
Taxes, Fees and Hidden Charges
When booking a last-minute flight, most people overlook the fact that even discounted tickets come with hidden charges such as taxes, surcharges and fees. For domestic flights in the U.S., these can run from 7-12% of the total cost of the flight. And if you’re catching a flight internationally, the add-ons can cost close to 30%. So it’s essential to read all the fine-print when comparing prices to make sure you’re getting the best deal.
Also, don’t overlook any extras that may add costs to your trip such as baggage fees, food, and seating. You should always ensure that you budget for these in addition to your flight costs. Be aware that many airlines charge different fees, depending on the aircraft you’re travelling on and, of course, the route and duration of your flight.
One way to avoid these extras is to choose a basic economy rate when booking last minute. This usually means no assigned seating, no carry-on bag and fewer extra perks like free meals, but it can save you money.
And finally, if you signed up for a loyalty scheme or frequent flyer program with an airline, be sure to check if you are eligible for additional discounts. These can often be applied when booking a last-minute flight.
Use Those Rewards Points
If you have banked up rewards or loyalty program points, this is the ideal time to use them to save money on your last minute flight. Many airlines allow you to use points or miles in part or in full for your ticket.
You can often transfer your points across different schemes, giving you access to more offers. Don’t forget to also check the value of reward programs attached to your preferred credit cards.
Also, some flexible loyalty programs allow you to book last minute flights with no blackout dates. This means that you can book your flight whenever you want, as long as seats are still available. Some frequent flyer programs offer substantial discounts, with as much as a 50% reduction in costs. As with any flight, always read the terms and conditions of any last-minute offers before you commit to anything.
Finally, make sure you redeem your points and miles the right way. Expiry dates and other restrictions often apply, so be sure to redeem them promptly and in the right way. Don’t forget to check the award chart as some airlines offer different redemption rates depending on when you book your flight.
Start Saving For Your Next Trip
Even if you book yourself a great deal on a last-minute flight, it’s always great to start saving for your next. Consider setting up an automatic transfer from your account to a high-interest savings account and put a bit away each month, even if it’s just for a couple of days away. This will give you the peace of mind that you’re always prepared for that last-minute getaway.
Also, investigate flight deals regularly, even if you’re not planning travel in the near future. This will help you become familiar with the options available, enabling you to spot a good deal when it arrives. You never know when you might need to jump on a last-minute flight and it’s great to have bargains in your back pocket.
Be sure to also check group deals and promotions off peak travel months. These often occur during winter holidays, spring and summer breaks, and weekends. This is a great way to combine a well-priced flight with low-priced accommodations.
Finally, sign up for notifications from airlines and travel programs for travel offers. This will help you become one of the first to know when a flight deal is available.
Useful Tips When Booking Last Minute Flights
Making the right last minute flight decisions can be tricky, but there are some useful tips you can keep in mind when booking.
If you need to book a last-minute flight due to an emergency or delay, contact the airline and explain your situation. Trying to explain can often have better results than simply demanding compensation.
Be flexible when it comes to the time and day of departure. If you can, look a few days before and after your preferred dates. Airlines often offer times of day that allow them to fill planes quickly. This increases your chances of scoring a flight deal.
Don’t forget to take into account other essentials, like checking if there’s a good wifi or transportation option at the destination airport, or a convenient place to stay if the flight is delayed or cancelled.
Finally, always remember to weigh up the pro’s and cons. Last-minute flights are always full of changes and surprises, so make sure you know exactly what you’re getting into. Ask as many questions as you can before making a decision so that you can make an informed choice.
What are the hidden charges associated with last minute flights?
These can include taxes, surcharges and fees. For domestic flights in the U.S., these additional costs can run from 7-12% of the total cost of the flight. International flights may incur an extra 30%.
How can I best use my rewards or loyalty points?
Many airlines allow you to use points or miles in part or in full for your ticket. Also check the value of reward programs attached to your preferred credit cards. Often you can transfer points across different schemes, giving you access to more offers.
What are the best ways to save on my next flight?
Look out for discounts for long-term or frequent flyers, or for students and senior citizens. Sign up for notifications from airlines and travel programs for travel offers. And investigate flight deals regularly, even if you’re not planning travel in the near future.