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Last-Minute Travel Deals: How Long Can You Wait?

NEW YORK (MainStreet) — There may be instances when it pays to wait, but booking flight reservations is not one of them.

“You can’t guarantee there will be [available seats] because airlines have cut capacity over the last three years,” says Anne Banas, executive editor for Smarter Travel.

The lower capacity makes it harder to not only get a seat, but it also severely limits the consumer’s ability to get a deal on the ones that are still available.

However, Banas says airlines will release some last-minute travel deals on upcoming weekend flights the Tuesday or Wednesday before they are departing. JetBlue (Stock Quote: JBLU), for instance, is in the habit of advertising these weekend deals on its @JetBlueCheeps Twitter feed every Tuesday.

“Midweek travel deals are harder to come by,” Banas says. They’re also not typically advertised, so travelers will have to do some digging if they want to find one.

One thing is for sure: Trying to buy a ticket at the airport on the day you are looking to head out is going to cost you. 

“You’re probably going to pay a premium for that,” Banas says, but adds that the opposite is true for walk-up fares on hotel rooms. Overnight stays could potentially be booked at a steal if enough rooms are still empty as the evening approaches.

To make the process of finding a hotel easier, consider checking out several apps that locate hotels that are offering low fares in a traveler’s area, such as Hotel Tonight.

For more tips on how you can find discounted hotel rooms, check out the latest edition of MainStreet’s Get It for Less series!

—For the best rates on loans, bank accounts and credit cards, enter your ZIP code at BankingMyWay.com.

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