I'm not ready to tell all of that travel story just yet, but I will say that my first flight was at age 16 on a student standby ticket, ORD-LGA on American Airlines.
The cost: approximately $68 one way. I paid cash, earned scooping ice cream for a few weeks the previous summer.
This was long, long ago, before the Internet made travel research so easy. I don't remember finding that fare in a guide book, so I must have learned about it word of mouth from a college student.
Now I'm a middle-aged runaway, constantly looking for airfare deals to fuel my travel fantasies.I set up alerts on Airfarewatchdog.com and Kayak, and use the flexible date features on airline sites to find the cheapest dates to fly.
This week, my urge to drop everything and run away to Los Angeles for BlogWorld Expo went unfulfilled. Even so, I learned a bit about buying airfare last minute.
Having missed a $99 one-way sale ORD-LAX on American and Virgin America, I watched as Delta maintained a $149 one-way fare until two days before my target departure date. American's fare went as high as $414 one-way for the cheapest restricted economy ticket. Then, just a day before the departure date, American dropped the outbound one-way fare to $249 when purchased as a round trip as late as an hour before flight time.
I'm not certain yet if I've discovered a pattern, but I'll be watching to see how often walk-up prices are lower than fares for tickets purchased two or three days before a flight.
What is your experience with last-minute airfares? Have you ever purchased a plane ticket for leisure travel at the last possible moment? Please share in the comments.