Can you really pick up a last minute flight at a bargain price, or is it a myth?
We're all after a bargain when booking a flight for a beach holiday, city break or long haul adventure.
Yet knowing when to book is a bit of a gamble, and leaving it until the last minute is generally not the best way to secure a cheap getaway.
Scheduled airlines and low cost carriers tend to be more expensive at the last minute, as their flights fill up and prices rise.
Charter carriers, on the other hand, tend to reduce their prices closer to the departure date as they work on a model of 100% seat occupancy and so will slash prices if the flights aren't full.
The worst times to look for last minute flights are during the school holiday periods and on big departure days such as Friday, Saturday and Sunday, when most people travel. You'll have a better chance of finding a deal for midweek departures - on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays - outside the school holidays and main summer holiday season.
You'll find some of the best fares for travel in November and December up until the Christmas period and January through to Easter.
You won't find good last minute deals to every destination. Here's the best advice on which routes are most likely to offer a deal...
Most last minute bargains will be to the holiday airports used by the charter carriers and to secondary airports used by budget airlines such as Ryanair.
If you search for departures midweek and for dates outside of school holidays, you can find cheap flights to the Greek islands, Turkey, mainland Spain and her islands, the Algarve, Malta and Cyprus, as well as on long-haul routes such as to Orlando, in Florida, and the Caribbean.
You might also find bargain flights to French, Italian, German and other European destinations beyond the major airports of cities such as Paris, Frankfurt and Milan.
Long haul destinations tend not to be cheaper the later you book. Flights to popular cities such as New York, Bangkok, Sydney and Dubai often sell out. Generally, lower priced tickets will have sold well before the departure date, so you should plan ahead for trips like this when you can.
In addition, rather than booking a flight alone, a last minute package holiday with a charter tour operator might prove a bargain.
Booking a last minute flight is easy. Follow these simple rules to avoid any problems...
Having found a flight with only days to go until departure, it's tempting to race ahead and book it - only for difficulties to emerge at the last minute.
Before confirming your booking, however, you should check that the passports of everyone flying are up to date, with the minimum required validity before they expire for the destination you're travelling to.
You should also check whether you require visas for the country you're flying to and whether you have enough time to apply for one.
Ensure all the names on the booking match the passports to avoid problems at check-in or the departure gate.
Also confirm whether you need to pay extra for baggage and, if so, book it online as it will be cheaper than at the airport. Some budget airlines also now allow you to book your choice of seating for a fee.
Finally, ensure you've had any inoculations or purchased any medication the destination requires.
You've booked your flight - so what else do you need to organise for your last minute getaway?
Once you've booked your flight, the next thing you should organise is travel insurance. Compare prices online with TravelSupermarket to find the best deal.
If you need last minute hotels you can also compare and book thousands of hotels, apartments, villas and B&Bs, including many available at the last minute, at TravelSupermarket.
Booking airport parking online is also cheaper than drive-up prices, keeping costs down and giving you more to spend in duty free.
You should also consider your onward travel for when you touch down at your destination. Booking car hire online beforehand, for example, will potentially be much cheaper than on arrival.
If you don't fancy driving, you can also organise airport transfers before leaving the UK. It's much less hassle than having to arrange it on arrival, after a tiring flight.
Finally, make the most of your money by using the most cost-efficient credit and debit cards for overseas use and by getting the best deal on foreign currency.
Compare and book travel extras from among a huge range of suppliers at TravelSupermarket.