My girlfriend and I are living in Vancouver (BC, Canada). We have the project to directly go to the airport and buy the next cheap round-trip (return) flight ticket to go to any (relatively close) airport for a short week (4 days for example).

Does it seem to be a good idea? Will we likely get some very interesting prices by booking a return ticket so soon (maybe 30 minutes or an hour only) before the departure? We would not be bothered at waiting for 15 hours at the airport in order to get a good deal.

Here is a related post that asks about pricing when booking a flight 1-2 days before the departure and not 1 or 2 hours before the departure and did not address the round-trip issue.

  • 1
    I did this once (in the US), but I realized there is nothing like "last minute" and "cheap". However, at that point I just did it for the experience and didn't care about the cost, even though it was a bit eye watering. Commented Oct 16, 2014 at 20:17
  • This is exactly what you're looking for: germanwings.com/skysales/BlindBooking.aspx?culture=en-GB but it doesn't work in Vancouver
    – Gayot Fow
    Commented Oct 16, 2014 at 21:43
  • 1
    Have you seen the movie Yes Man? Goes very badly in that ;)
    – Mark Mayo
    Commented Oct 17, 2014 at 1:20
  • You might also look into "Mystery Flights"
    – WW.
    Commented Oct 17, 2014 at 7:50
  • Thanks a lot for your answers and comments. I appreciate the abcnews and germanwings links as well.
    – Remi.b
    Commented Oct 17, 2014 at 21:57

2 Answers 2


Airlines tend to charge full fare for last minute bookings, rather than discounting it to try and fill one more seat.

The stereotypical last minute booking is from a business person, who has to be there and is flying on someone else's dime, hence doesn't mind paying whatever is asked. So there is no real motivation to discount the fares. The number of people like yourself who might be looking for a cheap last minute escape are a very small minority.

Usually about the only thing that gets discounted at the last minute is upgrades, as airlines may try to raise a bit of last minute cash if their first class is empty and there aren't that many eligible elite flyers on the flight.

All that said, there is nothing wrong with giving it a shot, as there are exceptions to every rule of thumb. Just don't get your hopes up.


Quite apart from there not being many (if any) discount fares to be had at such short notice at the airport, asking for a random next flight out with seats available is likely going to ring some alarm bells and get airport security (and possibly police) called in while you're asked to wait "while we check what we have available".
What's the most likely reason someone wants to get out, NOW, no matter where to? Because he's on the run from police, or trying to hide from something at least.

Anyway, at your typical airport who'd you ask anyway? There's airline counters that may sell tickets on the spot, but not one "cheap ticket to anywhere" counter, so you'd have to check all of them, write down or remember the offerings, compare them, and then make your decision. Unless you decide on a specific airline and just skip the rest of them of course.

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