Can I buy a ticket for the next flight out of an airport? How last minute can you be?

last minute flight purchase

Question: Is it possible to be at the airport and just buy a ticket for the next flight out? I’ve been in the situation before, as a frequent flyer, where I just really needed to get on the next plane – but not sure the specifics on if airlines allow this last minute travel.

frequent flyer travel


Quick Answer: Yes! But it is not without its drawbacks…


So…pretty much any airline will be okay putting you out on the next flight where there are available seats but it won’t come without a lot of hassle.

There are definitely times in every frequent flyers life when the travelling gods have royally f**kd everything up, and you either have missed your flight, suddenly have a last minute meeting and need to get a flight ASAP or anything in between that requires you to haul ass to the airport and get on a plane (any plane….please?!) and save your life (/keep your job). It is good to be aware, you can (in Tom Cruise style) race to the airport and jump on the next flight *insert mission impossible music*.

However, the airline is basically going to treat you as SUPER suspicious…so instead of feeling like Tom Cruise racing to your plane and getting to your meeting in cool movie guy style – you’re probably going to feel a bit more like Inspector Clueso from Pink Panther…making all the silly face plants.

By booking on the spot, you’ll most likely be subjected to SSSS (Secondary Security Screening Selection) where you’ll undergo a lot more rigorous security checks before being allowed to board the plane. You’ll most likely be asked to step into another area when you reach the security line – where everything will be checked and then probably checked again. From going through your bag and swabbing everything, to swabbing and removing clothing items – you’ll definitely be treated as a person of risk.

Whilst it is said to be random, there are some common triggers – and booking a flight within hours of the flight leaving, paying cash, and not checking hold luggage all will set off alarms for security checks.

You may also be subject to further security checks in your destination airport before being set free.

On top of this will be the cost, airlines normally add a airport ticketing fee which makes it a lot more expensive than buying online – and since it is most likely last minute, the prices will be hiked up anyway.

Okay…so what to do?

In answer to the question, yes you can by a ticket at the counter for sure. But if you’re short on time? Probably not the best option. Because doing this triggers extra security, it will make your life a lot harder getting through and add a lot of time and money – than just re-arranging and buying online.

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