By Samantha Bomkamp, AP Transportation Writer
NEW YORK (AP) — Fly to the Bahamas today for $10. Take a trip to Los Angeles tomorrow for $20. While airfares generally are higher these days, last-minute sales that ask you to fly at a moment's notice are popping up everywhere.
Why do airlines launch a sale that asks people to travel the next day or fly on off-days like a Monday or Tuesday? The biggest reason boils down to simple supply and demand: More people are flying, so the airlines don't need to launch big sales on more popular days. That's especially true with the summer travel season approaching.
But there's more to it. Here's a look at why the airlines offer last-minute sales and how best to take advantage.
First waves of last minute
Last-minute fare sales are here to stay, at least for summer, according to Rick Seaney or FareCompare.com. Here's why: Facebook and Twitter.
These "fly on a moment's notice" sales are geared toward the instant communication of social media sites, which are rapidly overshadowing e-mail as an alert system.JetBlue, which has one of the biggest footprints on social media sites among U.S. airlines, announced a sale last Monday for travel on Tuesday and Wednesday.
This type of sale is only going to grow in popularity, Seaney predicts.
Last-minute sales aren't generally ideal for travelers, though, because they force you to make your mind up fast and often travel at off-peak times. But the alternative — a longer sale where the airline may sell out too early — isn't great for travelers, either.
Eight to 10 months ago, last-minute sales were a rarity. Before that, airlines took weeks to review marketing and advertising plans prior to launching a sale. It's a much more organic process now that airlines have realized the potential free marketing social media provides.
United, for example, launched a contest on Twitter this week that required its followers to "retweet" sweepstakes rules to be entered into a ticket giveaway. (Translation for the social media novice: tell all your friends, and we'll let you play.)