I’m going to give you a tip. If you live in a market smaller than Toronto, don’t ever count on a last-minute travel bargain. There’s simply not enough competition in the market.
In my experience, and in my opinion only, it is NOT possible to net an amazing deal on a five-star vacation two days before you want to leave from the Winnipeg airport.
However, I’m not telling you to lose hope. What I am telling you is that if you are from Winnipeg your last minute window “opens and closes earlier.” Booking a last-minute vacation at a reduced cost over retail is possible 40 to 14 days in advance of travel.
Why 40 – 14? If you ask me to find you a bargain three days before you travel, you are asking a travel agent for a miracle. If you ask the same travel agent for a bargain trip two weeks from now… You will find options. Often several options. However you will need to decide instantly yay, or nay. Bargains get snapped up quickly and there is no such thing as “holding” a package.
Availability is only guaranteed in the payment screen and when the booking is confirmed by the airline.
Why do I call a “last-minute” bargain 40 days before travel? Well, it goes like this: If someone is making payments on a trip their total balance is typically due 60-45 days before the trip starts. If full payment is not made and passenger defaults on the trip, the airline will take back their space and put it into inventory and try to resell it. Now these open seats or excess hotel inventory can be discounted for resale because the first party already partially paid for it. (Deposits are 100% nonrefundable .) This bounce back inventory often occurs around that 40 day mark.
So it’s just a matter of rethinking the definition of “last minute travel bargain.”
Your odds are better if you plan AT LEAST two weeks before you go.
If you do plan to take a last-minute trip I also highly recommend having your passport in hand, your dog kennel already booked, and full payment for of the trip ready.
And an open mind. Last minute bargain-hunting requires an open mind! I think last-minute travellers are happiest when they are flexible with choice of resort and/ or destination. Aim for the moon, but be happy when you reach the stars!