Want to save some money? Use last minute travel

Everyone with some spare money and some time to spare must know that airlines love and hate them at the same time. Airlines have these expensive planes and they like to see their seats sold as far in advance as possible. That way, they have the cash you've paid them before they pay for the fuel to fly you where you want to go. Hopefully, they know they have covered their costs and made a profit on each flight. More importantly, they can calculate the amount of fuel to load before collecting the passengers. But not everyone does buy well in advance so airlines have this bait to sell off seats more cheaply at the last minute. Empty seats earn no money. Even a little money is an improvement on no money. So they discount seats through special offers and approved travel agents. That gives you a great opportunity so long as you go where the tickets take you. If the special offers also include hotel accommodation at the other end, you can have a very cheap vacation.

But not everyone has good news. Some receive an emergency call - family or friends have been injured in an accident, have fallen sick or died. Now the need is to get on an airplane and go there as quickly as possible. You now run up against a standard response. Under the IATA rules for international flights and many domestic systems where airlines are still regulated, airlines are not supposed to discount fares directly to passengers. You will therefore be asked for the full fare. So, the first step is to check online for the specialist last minute agents. If there are still seats left, you can save some money. If the flights are fully booked, you are now waiting for cancellations. Telephone the airlines directly, explain the situation and ask whether they can help. Most airlines do offer assistance on compassionate grounds. Find out what evidence they need of the emergency. If you can get this evidence, you may get priority for a cancelled ticket and get a discount.

So whether the journey is on a whim or a response to an emergency, you're looking for cheap air tickets. With the economy not doing well, everyone is more careful about what they do with their disposable income. You all want more air miles for your dollars. That means learning about what's available online. There are specialist last minute agents. You can either take your chances or, if you like the idea of traveling around at random, you can join clubs that give you access to the current last minute offers. If you're the kind of person prepared to see a deal and be in the air twenty-four hours later, this is for you. However, one word of caution - always make sure you know what the air ticket price includes. Cheap airline tickets can mean you get on the plane but have to pay for everything else. Read the small print before you buy.