In the past, last-minute plane tickets were the cheapest in the market. Numerous websites were littered with as late as 24-hour deals for cheap international flights. Travelers would wait close to their departure date to get the best prices.
Ultimately, airlines discontinued these considerably cheaper late tickets. However, the question we are all asking is, how did last-minute plane tickets go from pocket-friendly to ridiculously sky-high in less than a decade?
Generally, last-minute plane tickets are so expensive because airlines know that anyone traveling last minute is either a business client who is willing to pay the high rate or an emergency traveler pressed for time, who has a limited choice of available flights.
So, let’s take a deeper glance into the economics of last-minute airfare for both local and international flights.
Is it Cheaper or Expensive to Wait for Last-minute Flights?
Last-minute flights are always more expensive compared to tickets booked earlier. Any date within a month to the departure date progressively gets more costly.
It is cheaper to book flights as early in advance as possible to avoid the last-minute cost trap.
Why is Last-minute Airfare So Expensive?
Last-minute airfare prices have been a sore point for many travelers. What happened to incentives to fill up empty seats? In fact, what happened to the empty seats? There are a number of reasons why this seemingly global headache seems to be here to stay. Some of the reasons include:
1. Pricing Algorithms
In the age of digital retail thinking, it’s no surprise that airlines use algorithms to determine the best pricing rates.
So far, the math indicates that expensive last-minute flight tickets do not hurt the airline’s bottom line. In fact, it has helped to maximize the corporation’s profits in the last couple of years.
2. Business Travelers
According to Investopedia, business travelers pay way higher rates than normal flyers. The costly 11th-hour tickets might as well be targeted at them. Come rain or shine, business people will pay for that ticket.
3. Short-Term vs Long-Term Profits
Dropping ticket flight prices at the last minute may work very well in the short term, it ensures that no seats fly empty.
However, airlines using this strategy soon realized that it did not translate well to long-term earnings. Airlines conscious of their bottom line soon discontinued the practice.
4. Supply and Demand
IAs the flight departure date approaches, seats are booked in large numbers. As fewer slots remain, the natural rule of supply and demand kicks in. Higher demand translates to higher prices.
How Far in Advance Should I Book a Flight for the Best Price?
A good rule of thumb to get the best flight ticket prices is to book as early as your schedule allows. Booking earlier also gives you the freedom to shop for the best deals without the constraints of a looming deadline.
Best Time to Book Local Flights
The best local flight deals are within 30 to 90 days for domestic flights.
Best Time to Book International Flights
The best time to book international flights is 2 to 4 months in advance.
What’s the Cheapest Way to Get a Last-minute Flight?
There are several ways to get a considerably fair price. As always, knowledge is power, and gathering as much info on your particular travel date is key. Online sites such as lastminute.com offer ticket price comparisons on your preferred travel date.
This comes in handy when you do not have the luxury to spend hours online scouring airline ticketing sites for price variations. Asap Tickets is another online ticketing agency that offers last-minute ticket options to get the best value for your money.
Best Day of the Week to Book a Flight
A quick search of the best day to book a flight will reveal a myriad of myths online. Is it Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday?
Trends come and go, and flight bookings are no different. What may have been true three years ago may not necessarily apply today.
Expedia has a data-based solid answer to this, and you would never guess it. According to the highly acclaimed site, Sunday is the best day to book a flight for both domestic and international travel.
The Worst Day to Book Flights
Despite conflicting information on countless sources, it turns out mid-week is the worst time to book a flight. Thursdays and Fridays take the cake in this category.
Prices soar towards the end of the workweek when most people seemingly book their tickets. Even with Thursday and Friday being the most expensive days to book your flight, it is always good to remember that the closer the departure date, the higher the airfare.
A Thursday 2 months earlier is cheaper than the one two weeks before your flight date.
Read Also: Why Are Flights So Expensive Right Now 2022?
Do Flight Prices Go Down on Tuesday?
Contrary to popular belief, flight prices do not go down on Tuesday. In fact, there have been records of prices soaring on Tuesdays, maybe due to a surge in bookings.
Tuesdays used to be a popular day to book flights. However, according to the latest findings, Sundays now clinch that spot.
Do Flight Prices Go Down at Night?
Sometimes, we come across well-meaning advice to book flights at midnight to get the best rates. Unfortunately, flight prices do not necessarily go down at night.
Prices may vary throughout the day, week and month due to various reasons. However, there is no supporting data to show that flights are cheaper at night.
The best way to get cheap flights is to book as early as possible and shop around for the best deals.
Do Airlines Sell Empty Seats Last Minute?
A decade or so ago, empty plane seats were an airline’s biggest nightmare. Airlines would sell empty seats at relatively low rates in an attempt at flying at capacity.
However, due to better data-driven booking predictions, empty seats are very scarce on modern flights. Therefore, in the event that there are empty seats, airlines will aim for the highest rate they can get. These rates are almost always higher than the original ticket price.