Whether you need a last-second ticket abroad, think it might be cheaper in person, or simply forgot one of the most crucial aspects of flying, buying your plane ticket at the airport is certainly an option. But is it a smart option? In many situations, you could find that buying a ticket right before an event is a cheap alternative to buying online. Rush tickets for plays and shows tend to be drastically reduced compared to the initial, online tickets.

But what about when flying? Is it cheaper to buy the tickets at the airport?

There’s long been a rumor that waiting until the last second to buy your ticket at the airport is cheaper than online. You’re avoiding online fees, taxes from the website, and the longer you wait, the more desperate the airline is to offload certain tickets, right? Unfortunately, no. If you wait until the last second to buy your ticket at the airport, it’s probably going to be much more expensive than if you had simply bought it online.

Why Buy Online?

Airlines have no incentive for lowering their ticket prices once the flight is just around the corner. In fact, there’s probably more incentive to hike them for the last-second travelers. There are plenty of passengers who need to buy a last-second ticket at the airport, and the airline is ready to take advantage of their desperate needs. If you’re trying to beat the system and buy cheap tickets in person, you’re going to get caught up in that practice.

Online tickets are much cheaper than their in-person counterparts and come with plenty of benefits. If you decide you don’t want to make the voyage at the last second, many airlines will enable you to cancel your tickets. The stress relief of having your ticket, knowing your gate, and being prepared for air travel is unmatched and something that you don’t get when you buy your ticket at the last second.

Finally, when you buy your ticket online, you guarantee yourself a spot on the plane. Buying in person at the last second places a lot of your fate on luck. If the airline is booked, you went to the airport for nothing or have to stick around until a later flight comes by. There’s no guarantee that you’ll get a ticket when you buy your spot at the airport.

Some Airlines Are Exceptions

Airlines like Spirit tend to operate differently than their commercial counterparts. If you’re flying with Spirit Airlines or an airline that offers similar last-second deals, you could find that waiting until the end to buy your ticket at the airport is beneficial. In these cases, the tickets will be reduced in price and will be much more affordable than if you had bought your ticket previously online.

However, you’re still losing the safety and security of having your ticket in hand when you arrive at the airport. Even with Spirit Airlines, there’s no guarantee that you’ll receive a ticket. Plenty of travelers are aware of these last-second deals so you may need to get to the airport even earlier than if you had bought your ticket online to beat the rush.

In Conclusion

It is probably smarter to just buy online. Sure, there are taxes, service fees, and unexplained costs, but in the end, it’s just better to buy your ticket online. You avoid the last-second price hikes that most airlines offer as well as the worry of not being prepared or missing your flight completely. You could get a better price from some airlines, but you’re putting your trip at risk if you wait to buy your ticket at the airport.