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%?
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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.
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.
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.