Reasonable Last-Minute Airfares?

Old Jan 1st, 2002, 11:11 AM
Last Minute-Literally
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Reasonable Last-Minute Airfares?

Is their anyway besides Priceline and Hotwire to get last-minute airfares? Even as late as next- or even same-day?

From what I've found using Travelocity, ITA software and the like is that without _at least_ a 3-day advance (and often more) , the fares are several times what they would be otherwise.

Has anyone ever just shown-up at the airport the day they wanted to fly and been able to get on one of the flights? What was the fare like?

I would think that w/ routes that have several daily flights, such as one of the NYC airports to MIA (Miami) or SJU (San Juan, Puerto Rico) , for example, this could work and if there was a seat available, the airline would sell it at a reasonable rate since they otherwise wouldn't fill it at that point.

Thanks for any info.
Old Jan 1st, 2002, 11:15 AM
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Do your homework at, pick your destination/airline, then go to the airline's site.
Old Jan 1st, 2002, 11:18 AM
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You would think, but airlines don't think like that. By conditioning customers to believe that they can show up at the last minute and get a cut-rate on a seat, airlines believe (and maybe rightly so) that they would in the long run be less profitable. There are a few exceptions, but they are inconsistent and unpredictable. For example, in the off-season, airlines sometimes announce last-minute getaway fares that require only 24 hours advance purchase (and sometimes walk-up is o.k. too), but you never know what will be offered 'til maybe one or two weeks prior. And, they tend to sell out quickly. For example, United has London at $179+tax--just announced yesterday--but travel must begin next weekend and return within 3 or 4 days.

Another exception are charters which at times do sell seats last-minute at cut-rates. From the west coast to Hawaii, and sometimes in Summer to Paris or Malaga from NYC there is some availability (and a lot of uncertainty).

Domestically, the low-fare airlines tend to offer decent deals for last-minute travellers; Airtran, Frontier, Southwest and the like are typically less than the larger airlines.
Old Jan 1st, 2002, 12:39 PM
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Don, the United fare to London you're referring to is part of a program that all the airlines have; every week of the year they announce low fares for the coming weekend which require Fri-Sat departure and Sun-Tues return.
They're, of course, routes which are not selling well for whatever reason.

But if you get on the airlines e-mail list, they send these every week. It's like playing the lottery though. You never know what routes will show up.
Old Jan 1st, 2002, 12:46 PM
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I get a weekly email from, which lists last-minute fares from your city, and links to the individual websites.
Old Jan 1st, 2002, 01:03 PM
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Jack, not exactly. Not all airlines run these last-minute specials *every* week. Departure days, return days, and lengths-of-stay vary. In general, yes, many airlines have weekend specials, but my point was that they're not reliable because you never know what's going to be offered next, nor how long you're going to be able to stay. Most airlines do not have weekend getaway fares during peak travel seasons or around holidays. Only a handful of cities are offered. I think we agree on that much.

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