What are Last Minute Reservations?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 03 October 2019
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Last minute reservations are used by travelers to get a discount on a trip, as long as the traveler is willing to be flexible about the exact time of departure, and sometimes the destination as well. Any reservation made within a small window of time could be considered a last minute reservation, but the term is more usually used in the context of special deals and promotions. Numerous networks on the Internet specialize in rounding up deals on last minute reservations to locations all over the world, sometimes bundling them with car rentals and hotels as well.

Standby travel is one type of last minute reservation, and one of the most common. A traveler who travels standby usually arrives at the airport on the day that he or she is planning to depart, and registers with an airline, indicating where he or she would like to go, and an acceptable time window. If the airline has space on flights to that destination right before departure, the standby traveler will be given a seat, often at a steeply discounted price. Some travelers prefer to use this traveling technique, especially people who are not choosy about exactly when and where they go; sometimes it is possible to hop a plane to another country for the price of a domestic flight. Other travelers are forced to use standby travel by flight delays or travel emergencies.


Relying on last minute reservations to get a cheap price can be a gamble. Usually the price of travel goes up in the last few days before departure, especially if the destination is a sought after location. In an emergency situation, such as the death of a family member, last minute reservations can sometimes be extremely expensive because the traveler cannot afford be be flexible, as he or she may miss important events. If you find yourself in a situation like this, ask airline staff about bereavement fares and other programs designed to help emergency travelers.

When you are planning a trip around last minute reservations, usually the trip is last minute as well. It pays to be flexible; think about exploring a new place, or trying to hook up with an old college friend. By widening the scope of places you are willing to travel to, you may be able to find an excellent deal, as many airlines encourage last minute reservations, so that their flights will be full. An empty seat earns no money; a discounted seat will at least help to pay the costs of the flight.

Searching out last minute reservations is usually relatively easy. Some airlines have last minute reservations sections right on their websites, allowing travelers to look at current fare specials, and people who want a wider field of options can use last minute reservations websites. These websites collect fare specials from airlines, hotels, and car rental companies so that they are bundled together in a central location for convenience, allowing users to search for all specials from a certain city, specific travel plans, or deals into a particular region. Enter “last minute reservations” into your favorite search engine to find one of these resources.


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