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Here’s How to Save on Last Minute Travel

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Inside an AirplaneIf it hasn’t happened already, it eventually will. At some point you’re going to have to jump on a plane with only a few hours of notice and often, the reason isn’t good. Somebody was injured, passed away, or something else that desperately needs your attention. The unexpected positive news rarely requires a trip and when it does it’s often planned well in advance.

The days of receiving a special bereavement rate from the airlines are gone. The profit margin for a seat on an aircraft along with the personnel expenses that come with verifying the passing of your loved one make this perk no longer cost effective.

Although you probably aren’t going to come out with a discount to brag about, there are ways to keep from spending more of a fortune than you should have.

By “Last Minute” You Mean…

If you got the call an hour ago to be on a plane today, there’s not much you can do. You can only hope that an airline ticket to wherever you’re going isn’t twice the cost of planning ahead. Get online right away and see what comes up but other than calling the airlines and sometimes paying fees to speak to somebody, you’re largely out of luck.

If you can wait 24 hours, that gives you the flexibility of booking an early morning or late night flight or one that has multiple layovers. You could even drive to an airport further away in order to get a better rate. (watch the gas costs)

Last Minute, Non-Emergency

If this describes you, head to twitter and subscribe to the last minute travel feeds that are available. Many sites tweet their “deal of the century” rates as well as other discount rates that come from the airlines desperate to get those last few seats filled. Of course, don’t forget the old go-to sites like Expedia, travelzoo, and others.

The Lesser Knowns

Don’t normally fly on those strange airlines that look like they have two planes that may fall out of the sky? Now may be the time. The FAA has the same safety regulations for all planes so you can be confident that even if you go the generic equivalent of an airline, you’re safe. Regional airlines may be eager to fill their last minute seat vacancies at an even cheaper price. Just like their larger competitors, you probably won’t get a great deal but even the standard fare may be cheaper than the big airlines.

Fly Alone

The stress of the emergency is bad enough but if you have to book travel for your whole family, that adds to the expense and greatly decreases your chances of finding a flight at a reasonable price. If possible, leave the kids at home and if they need to be there, wait a few days.

Sometimes tending to an emergency means forgetting about frugality or even good financial decisions but for those who can spare a day or two and take the time to shop around even a little, emergency travel expenses don’t have to blow out your monthly budget. A little bit of flexibility can mean big savings.

(Photo: pagedooley)

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4 Responses to “Here’s How to Save on Last Minute Travel”

  1. Jake says:

    If you have the miles, often airlines will waive any redemption fees especially for emergency or bereavement situations. I booked a flight less than a week in advance over Thanksgiving with American and they waived all fees after speaking with a manager.

  2. Husker Avid says:

    I agree, this is the time to spend those credit card points you have been hoarding. I find Capital One to be particularly good. You can use those points on any airline ticket–so shop around and use your hard earned credit card points.

  3. Martha says:

    Has anyone tried using one of the concierge services from the credit cards when traveling last minute? I would think that they could be helpful in these kind of situations.

  4. cdiver says:

    best avice…leave the wife and kids at home. Travel wih automatic 75% discount. pay for it when you get back though.


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