Last-minute travel is a stressful reality, but how close to departure can you actually book a flight? Theoretically until take-off. Realistically however, from the moment you decide on a flight, there are 3 main hurdles.
- Whether you can find a way to buy tickets (hint: download AHOY)
- How long payment processing and ticketing (airline lingo for confirmed) takes
- Whether check-in and boarding is still possible
Here’s the 3 steps to do it last-minute
Maybe you like cutting it close? Or you just missed a flight and need to grab the next one fast. Here are 3 steps to book a flight as close to departure as (un)humanly possible.
- Before booking anything (!): If you’ve just missed a flight, chances are that you are either already past security, or can get through on your original boarding pass and should ask your desired flight’s boarding gate staff if they can check you in there. If you’re just cutting it close, you’ll need to get to a check-in counter or a check-in kiosk before check-in closes. In either case, make sure that you can still check-in before buying a ticket.
- Once you’ve been told that airline staff are able to check you in, you’ll need to find a site or app like AHOY who will sell you flights at the last minute. Sometimes a ticket office before or after security will oblige if you ask nicely and look adequately desperate (they may also be able to check you in).
- And the final clincher, will your payment go through to get you your ticket quickly? It depends on the airline, and type of ticket.
On average on AHOY it takes around 2-3 minutes until a reservation is ticketed. The record to date is some guy who managed to buy a ticket and check-in just 15minutes before scheduled departure! We still have no clue how this was possible… and recommend booking at least 1 hr before for regional flights, and 2 hrs before international ones. But, if you’re the mission impossible type, more power to you.
If you check in at the airport, chances are that you’re stuck with a paper boarding pass. Use GetPassbook if you like having a mobile boarding pass option, so you aren’t stuck if you lose that piece of paper! GetPassbook allows you to scan a paper boarding pass and get your passbook or mobile Pass for Apple Wallet or GPay.
If you decide last-minute travel is worth the stress, travel in running shoes, and don’t do this with check-in luggage. Best of luck!