Last minute flights
Is it better to book early or get a late deal?
Looking to find a great deal, but not too bothered where the flight ends up? If you're flexible about your destination and looking to fly in the very short term, a last-minute flight could be the answer for big savings...
When can late deals work?
The best time to consider searching for last-minute deals is when, at a spur of the moment, you decide to take a break and book a quick holiday.
The best chance of finding a great deal for a last-minute flight is for typical "holiday" destinations, popular with tour operators and travel agents. As the date of departure approaches, if there are empty seats on the planes the travel agents will want to offload them at any price.
The prices for flights with traditional airlines will tend to increase as time goes on. The best time to get the cheapest fares are when the tickets are first released, or in a seat sale. With charter airlines, on the contrary, late deals are often available. When a charter airline has sold the majority of its seats, it then decides to sell the spare seats at cheaper prices.
When to book early
When it comes to flag carriers such as Qantas, you needn't wait until the week before your holiday to get the best deal on cheap flights. In fact, by booking your flight sooner rather than later, you could easily land yourself a top deal and be left with plenty of cash to spend while you're away.
By booking early, not only can you feel safe in the knowledge that your trip is arranged, you could also make some huge savings. If you're planning a holiday, especially one that needs to be scheduled for the school holidays, search for cheap flights as early on as possible, as this is a very busy season to travel.
Updated January 2012