Posts: 1837
Joined: Tue Dec 19, 2006 6:19 am

When Is The Cheap Flight Cut-off?

Sat Apr 14, 2007 7:53 am

I'm interested to know how this works.

Normally, when booking last minute [i.e. for travel same/next day] fares tend to be fairly expensive.

There are though occasions when flights go for peanuts, so I'm wondering what would cause an airline to lower, rather than raise, their price. Is it purely demand?


Take, purely as an example, a fictional flight with 100 seats, no major sporting events, no big deal, just a regular day.
Tickets are at about $500 + tax.
With 24 hours to go, 15 seats remain. Would these tend to [and I know this is very hypothetical] be more, or less expensive?
Again, with 4 hours to go, 5 remain. If someone rolled up at this point, would they expect to get a huge, or a teeny fair?


I am wondering how often airlines "win" and how often they "lose" in this kind of situation - is it a gamble? A calculated risk?

If I roll up 4 hours before the fictional flight and am offered a fare of $1,000 + tax, I might say no. But if I was offered $50 + tax I might say yes.

Sure, the airline is holding out for those desparate passengers who need 5 x $1,000 seats to get to something important, but do they ever turn around when the gate closes with those seats unsold and think "shit, could have sold those 5 x $50 seats and made $250"?

Perhaps poorly phrased, but did I get my question accross?

Posts: 19304
Joined: Thu Oct 12, 2006 7:32 pm

RE: When Is The Cheap Flight Cut-off?

Sat Apr 14, 2007 8:04 am

It varies widely depending on load, route, day of week, historic demand data for the flight etc. In Europe it's very common to find some exceptionally low fares on major carriers on many routes if you book within a day or two of departure, often much cheaper than fares that may still be available on low cost carriers operating the same routes. That's especially true on weekends, Saturday in particular, when last minute full-fare bookings by high yield business travellers are going to be almost nonexistent, so they will often try to fill empty seats by offering some very attractive last-minute fares.

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