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I am planning to fly from Germany to Vietnam.

Do standard airlines do ultra last minute price drops for long distance flights?

I.e. is it reasonable to wait until 1 to 3 days before the flight with booking to see a meaningful price drop e.g. 10%?

  • Not really a complete answer so I'll add it here: it's going to massively depend on the route. On very popular routes where airlines have no trouble filling their planes on a regular basis the price is likely to continue increasing until the last minute. On less popular routes a last-minute decrease is far more likely. – cbw Oct 31 '18 at 13:13
  • It depends not only on the route but also on the date and time (e.g. peak periods like holidays), the specific airline, and many other factors. You can try to see what Kayak says, they try to predict that. But generally, expect prices to go up rather than down. And they can go very high at the last minute, so waiting could prove costly. – jcaron Oct 31 '18 at 14:31
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Each airline is free to apply the pricing policy they want, so the answer could vary greatly from airline to airline.

A quick search for a transatlantic flight for today gives me a minimum price of $1400, while I can book the same search for $465 with one month ahead.

Usually last-minute travellers are those who are in a hurry to fly, so they don't care much for prices as regular tourists do.

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Typically not, but you never know, so it doesn't hurt trying.

FRA<->HAN: starting on this Friday would be around $1000 (including the non-stop from Vietnam airlines). A month from now, the non-stop would be around $800. It can be as cheap as $350, but only with awkward routing: multiple stops and/or long layovers.

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My research of various credible online sources, ticket aggregators, specialized blogs, The Guardian-level newspapers suggests following:

Last minute price drops are virtually non existent on long haul flights from Europe to Asia. Price drops are in a way "random" or unpredicatable (as opposed to 1990's where "last minute price hunting worked reliably).

I have observed 3 types of triggers for price drops:

First, as airline start to sell long haul flights cca 11 months ahead, they have specific sales targets during the lifecycle of a sale, so if they do not hit the sales mark at 6 month, they do a sale.

Second trigger of price reduction I know of comes from over-capacity on certain Asian routes during some periods of times, especially around major European holidays, during Asians do no seem to fly much.

Third is a new route "welcome" pricing.

In this particual case, my search for the connection started 2 months ahead, and in the mean time I have observed that this routes gets sold out quite readily, so instead of getting a last minute price drop I ended up paying more when I finally bought one week ahead. The flight got sold out soon after.

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