Q. I know many airlines have weekend specials (rarely all that special) to try and fill empty seats. Why don't they offer any TRUE last minute deals? For instance, there is/was an airline in Germany that allowed potential passengers to come to the airport, bags packed, and they'd be booked on any open flights with empty seats, and at deep deep discounts. The hitch was that passengers wouldn't know where they might be going until moments before boarding.
So why don't our airlines reduce fares for last minute travel? Doesn't it make more sense for them to fill a half empty plane and make some money off those seats? Or are they concerned passengers will begin waiting until the last few hours to try and catch a good deal?
A. In the past, a number of years ago, many airlines did allow passengers to wait at the airport for last minute booking of travel at substantial savings. This has been discontinued mainly because they have gotten much more efficient at filling seats and reducing/increasing capacity on routes, mostly due to their ability to track numbers and trends more quickly. Another factor, the price of fuel has reached the point where it's probably cheaper to fly a lighter plane than just fill seats for a small payment.