A new startup is here to reward spontaneous travelers who like to plan trips on a whim, as well as procrastinators who tend to purchase their airline tickets just days before their desired departure date.
U.K.-based Air Ticket Arena, an air ticket distribution platform, launched on Feb. 1 to give last-minute fliers the opportunity to place bids for unsold seats.
To play your hand at booking a budget-friendly ticket, download the Air Ticket Arena mobile app on your phone and register. Once your account is verified, choose your destination, departure/return date, and the number of tickets you’d like to bid on. You will also get to choose which of the participating airlines you’d like to fly with, so long as they have flights scheduled for that day. You can make a bid up to 14 days ahead of your preferred departure date; if you want to book a return ticket, you can place a second bid up to 14 days from departure (e.g. if you are flying on Feb. 22, the latest date you can return is on March 8).
Once you’ve selected your preferences, you place your bid by entering how much money you are willing to pay for a ticket (the price is in Euros, so don’t forget to convert the currency to U.S. dollars). Twenty-four or 48 hours before the scheduled flight, the airline will decide the amount of unsold seats up for sale and the minimum price they are willing to accept for a bid. If a seat is available for the same or less than the price you chose, the airline will automatically book your flight and an e-ticket will be delivered to you.
Fair warning: because the app is new, the bugs and kinks are still being worked out. Signing up for the app is not intuitive, and if there are no available tickets on the date you want to leave, Air Ticket Arena does not offer alternative times or flights. Still, for choosing your own price, the extra time it takes to fiddle with the dates and give in to your wanderlust is worth the effort.