Cheaper to Book in Advance or Buy Last Minute Tickets?

When it comes to getting dirt cheap prices on airline tickets, there are two commonly used strategies:

  • Book well in advance and possibly even cash in on promotions that are running, or
  • Buy last minute tickets literally hours before flights depart

Both of these fairly widely known strategies are regularly used by bargain hunters – but which one is really cheaper?

The idea behind buying last minute tickets is simple: When it is hours before a flight and some airline tickets are still not sold, the airline has to choose between releasing those tickets at dirt cheap prices so that they’re snapped up – or fly to their destination without a full load. The common logic here is that it is better to sell the tickets at less than their regular price rather than make nothing from those seats on the airplane.

Unfortunately despite the fact that it might sound like it makes sense, the truth is that not all airlines do offer last minute tickets. Many avoid doing so in fact, simply because they feel that it might cause people to not buy flights until the last minute in the hope of getting a deal – which is certainly true.

If you’re thinking about traveling cheap by buying last minute tickets you’ll need to factor this in, and determine in advance whether or not the airline you’re traveling on offers discounts on last minute tickets. Also, you’re going to have to face the fact that if flights leaving happen to be full – you might very well not be able to get one!

On the flipside, booking tickets well in advance (i.e. a year or more in advance) allows you to take advantage of various promotions, plan your trip beforehand, and know for certain that you have a deal instead of just the possibility of the deal.

In many cases you may even find that you get cheaper prices by booking in advance because airlines are more inclined to offer better deals well in advance so that they know that their flights will be departing with full loads.

All in all, it is impossible to say whether or not the prices for a given flight will be cheaper if you book well in advance or buy a last minute ticket, but in general you should definitely book well in advance if you can find some great deals – and only if you cannot then you might want to run the risk of trying to buy last minute tickets.

That sounds like it makes sense, doesn’t it? By following this approach, you should be able to get the cheapest airline tickets and not jeopardize yourself too much.

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