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Airfare savings
Finding cheap last-minute fares


Finding affordable last-minute airfares can be one of most frustrating aspects of travelling.

However, if you go about the process correctly, there is much hope, especially if you are not travelling at the busiest times.


What to do?

Let's start with what not to do.

Do not confine your fare searches to the Internet sites of the big airlines. These usually have the most expensive last-minute airfares.


Best discounts at third party Internet sites

Airlines, especially big ones like American, Delta, and United, tend to use third party sites to sell access inventory at the last minute at discounts. Check these types of sites, such as


or

However, even lower prices may exist.


Being flexible is the key

If you are flexible about your flight times, you need not pay high last-minute fares in most cases, especially on routes with competition.

Here's an easy way to save:

  • Be sure you've recently checked several sites like Expedia that allow you to select specific flights. You need to know current prices.

  • Now, click on Hotwire.com, and see the difference.

    Hotwire has regular fares, where you pick the times.

    But for maximum savings, you'll want to check —

    • Hotwire Limited Rates, where you don't learn the airline and departure time until you pay.

      Unless told differently prior to payment, you'll depart sometime between 6:00 a.m. and 10 p.m. on North American routes.

      You'll either fly nonstop or with a connection of no longer than three hours, with 80% being less than 90 minutes. International connections may be longer.

      With Hotwire.com, you'll fly on a well-known airline, such as Continental or Singapore. If flying today, you'll have at least 5.5 hours to pack, get to the airport, and check in.

      Like most discount fares, Hotwire Limited Rate tickets are non refundable. However, unlike most higher-priced tickets, you may not be able to change these even by paying a penalty. These may seem small inconveniences for the savings you receive.

Don't see any Hotwire Limited Rates?

If Hotwire.com notices lower fares on the next day or from a nearby airport, these may pop up on your screen.

You can also use the very useful "Flexible Dates Search" link. You select a range of dates and length of stay.

Your best savings may come from your flexibility.


What about Priceline.com?

If you have a credit card with a U.S. billing address try Priceline.com AirLink to Priceline airfares.

Priceline's "name your own price" fares have similar rules to Hotwire's cheapest fares.

Like Hotwire, Priceline works best when you've missed advanced purchase deadlines.

When bidding on Priceline, because Hotwire and Priceline are so similar in what they offer—well-known airlines, etc.—don't usually try to save more than 15% or perhaps 20%, over the Hotwire Limited Rate fare.

Your goal is to pay just a bit more for your last-minute fare than what you would have paid if you had booked before the normal airline deadlines.

Of course, you have to factor in how busy your travel dates are. Cancun's cheaper during May than in March!

Go on to Combining fares.

For more airfare savings tips:

Go to >> Airfare savings introduction
Go to >> Finding cheap fares
Go to >> Last-minute fares
Go to >> Combining fares
Go to >> Open jaws & circle trips
Go to >> One-way (single) airfares
Go to >> Bereavement flights
Go to >> Weekend internet fares
Go to >> Budget airlines, or Southwest Airlines
Go to >> Bucket shop fares
Go to >> Visit North America fares

 
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