Last minute travel explained
By: David Mayer
Life is never predictable. You can be sitting quietly when the phone rings. It is an emergency but the emergency is half a world away. It should be so easy. You get on the next flight from where you are and, with little difficulty, you arrive where you need to be. Except it is not always quite so easy. Let us take two of the most common situations. You are on holiday with a non-refundable ticket for a fixed return date which is too far ahead. That means you have to change flights. Well, with the recession and fewer people flying, there should be no problem in finding a free seat. And you would be right. There is often no difficulty in finding free seats on a scheduled flight. On charter flights this is much more difficult. But let us assume there is a free seat, can you have it? Well, yes, except there will be a charge. All cheaper tickets come with conditions attached. The most common is that you have to pay to make changes. It is one of the ways in which airlines recover any discounts you have been given. So now the choice is to pay the charge or wait for the flight on your ticket to come round.
In the other situation, you have no ticket. You just want the next plane. The general rule is that if you approach an airline directly, they will ask for the full fare. Even if you go to the airport and you can see there are seats free, airlines usually hold out for the retail fare. There are two responses (remembering that the third which is taking out your gun and demanding a ticket will be treated as an act of domestic terrorism). The first is to find one of the last-minute ticket agencies on the internet and buy the ticket online. Some consolidators who are holding unsold tickets close to the fly time will offer tickets at deep discounts to cut their losses. This is a matter of luck. On some routes at some times of year, all seats will have been sold. That leaves the airlines as the only option. You are looking for seats cancelled at the last moment. Almost all airlines operate a "compassion" discretion on tickets. If you can prove a family emergency as in a member of the family injured in hospital or a death, you may both get the ticket and get a discount. Telephone before you go to the airport and find out what evidence of the emergency they will accept. This compassion discretion will also apply to the first situation of changing the booking.
When you are flying last minute, it is both the best and the worst time to look for cheap airfare tickets. You do not want to spend the time searching but, ironically, consolidators may be offering the lowest prices ever. Unless you can trigger the compassion discretion, the airlines themselves will want the maximum price. That means using the internet to buy your cheap airfare tickets online.
Want to read the latest news and discussions from David Mayer? Visit http://www.airfaresnetwork.com/last-minute-travel-explained.html to get his latest insights on many different subjects in the world.
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