Q. What's the best way to buy a ticket on short notice? My daughter's going to have a baby in early November and I want to be there the the day after she gives birth in Virginia Beach. Any ideas?
A. If she should give birth on a Thursday or Friday, you could try booking a weekend fare. These are usually made available midweek, for travel the following Thursday, Friday, and (usually) Saturday, with the return flights as late as Monday or Tuesday.
Otherwise, your best bet is to check sites like lastminute.com, which specialize in last minute travel. In addition to airfare, they also offer package deals including car rental and, should you need it, a hotel. Plus, these package prices are almost always less, way way less, than what the airlines are offering for the flight alone.
Also good in a pinch is Priceline.com's name-your-own-price feature. If they don't accept your first bid, change your request just slightly (connecting flights vs. nonstops for instance) and see what they offer.