Airfare Tip: Wait until the last minute
Although we advise against waiting until the last minute as a general rule, there are exceptions. Airlines often release last-minute sale fares at rock-bottom prices for flights they haven't filled to entice customers to take a spontaneous weekend trip. If you're just looking to get away, this might be an option for you.
The major airlines (American, Continental, Delta, Northwest, Southwest, United, and US Airways) and smaller airlines (Alaska, America West, Frontier, Spirit, and others) release last-minute sale fares on Mondays, Tuesdays, or Wednesdays for travel in the days and weeks ahead. Last-minute Airfares usually depart on Fridays, Saturdays, or Sundays, and return on Sundays through Wednesdays.
Most airlines send e-mail newsletters with each week's last-minute Airfares to fliers who have signed up on their websites. A good way to monitor all of the airlines' last-minute fare sales is by signing up for SmarterTravel.com's free last-minute Airfare newsletters. The newsletters collect fares from all of the airlines listed above (and others as they become available), tailored to the departure city of your choice, so you don't have to scour each airline's website every week to find a last-minute fare.
The SmarterTravel.com newsletters are delivered once per week, on Wednesday mornings. An additional international last-minute Airfare newsletter is also delivered on Fridays or Mondays to select cities, so you can keep tabs on the last-minute sales to destinations abroad.
Most last-minute Airfares don't have an advance booking requirement, allowing you to book right before you fly. Even so, if you see a fare you like, you should book as soon as possible, as the last-minute specials are very limited and sell out quickly. A fare you see in the morning will often be sold out by the afternoon. Even if you're interested in a fare for next weekend, book it right away, because it most likely won't be available for long.
Keep an eye on the last-minute Airfares that are released every week for your city, and you'll begin to notice patterns. Competing airlines will generally offer last-minute fares on similar routes. For example, America West almost always matches Southwest's last-minute fares on every route. Watch for patterns and know which airlines serve your city, and which cities are airline hubs. That way, you'll know which airlines are likely to offer low prices on your route.
2021-06-04, 449👍, 0💬
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