With both the AFL and NRL grand finals being held this weekend, there's a massive surge in last-minute flight bookings from die-hard fans keen to cheer their team on in the big finale.
But alas, this weekend also signals the end of school holidays, meaning a scarce selection of flights. And what's available is not going cheap.
It has always been a common misconception that booking last minute is the best way to save. Sure, you can definitely take a gamble and book flights last minute when you see a sale, but you can't always rely on this when you have a specific event in mind or when its school holidays or a similar peak travel season.
It all comes down to simple supply and demand. As the aircraft fills up, the prices climb higher. Each incremental increase is known as a ‘fare bucket’.
Airline seats are a perishable commodity. Once the flight departs there is no value on that seat to the airline, so their goal is to sell every seat before takeoff.
Seats in an aircraft are divided into ‘buckets’ with a particular price and airfare rules attached. Once the lowest fare bucket is sold, a price from the next lowest bucket is offered and so forth until the flight is sold out.
Sometimes buckets may not sell as quickly as the airline anticipates, so a lower fare bucket or a sale fare may be added to entice more sales. These are what we know as last-minute sales.
Conversely, if seats are selling quickly or it’s a popular time of day or year to be flying, the airline may add in higher fare buckets. These can change minute by minute as bookings are made.
Logically, the cheaper fares are always the first to sell out. As it's been reported in recent days, just over half of all Qantas customers flying between Melbourne and Perth this weekend for the big game secured their flights for $275 or less each way.
Unfortunately, the die-hard fans who have left their booking to the last minute, but who are still desperate to see their team in the final are the ones who will be forking out thousands of dollars.
Making a long weekend of it? 3 Days In Sydney
Staying in Melbourne? 3 Days In Melbourne
AFL Grand Final (Saturday 3 October)
Looking at the AFL Grand Final between Hawthorne and West Coast in Melbourne this Saturday, there is very limited seat availability on all remaining domestic services into the city.
Creative agents do all they can to help fans get to the game, even exploring international routes! But with 3 October coinciding with the end of Victorian school holidays, international options via Singapore, Hong Kong, Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur are also not readily available.
It's still possible for travellers to fly into Melbourne from Perth via a few domestic services, but prices are all above $1,000 one way.
Too expensive? Not for some. These seats are expected to go within the next 24 hours.
NRL Grand Final (Sunday 4 October)
When the Brisbane Broncos and North Queensland Cowboys both sealed their place in the NRL Grand Final this Sunday at Sydney's ANZ Stadium, you can bet more than a few Queenslanders were on their phones searching for available flights.
The seats are starting to dry up, but there are still options for fans to make the last-minute dash.
The cheapest option for travellers flying out of Townsville or Brisbane is to depart on Friday and return Tuesday. On average, Jetstar works out to be the cheapest from Townsville at just over $1,100 return, while Virgin has the best price for those in Brisbane at $540 return.
This availability is not expected to last long, so Flight Centre urges anyone looking to book to get in quick.