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Prices - Why don't airline companies offer empty places at the last moment?
Many things airline companies have done in the past that they can no longer do because clients have so much more information than before. Thirty years ago, humans presented themselves as quite well coordinated with what they were doing. As for the last few minute, just think that a normal ticket A-B on Sunday at 8pm will cost $300.
One fully reimbursable, complimentary ticket costs $1000. Tickets for 18.00, 19.00 and 21.00 hrs are subject to the same tariff. A person who makes this plane every Sunday can buy the reimbursable 21:00, then arrive in due course for the 6 and throw the die repeating. And at a normal empty seat hour of the morning, for $100, they'll be traveling maybe 9 out of 10.
This is the 10th occasion they use their rebate ticket, which they otherwise void. Nothing was won by the carrier - the empty seats consumed in these 9 cases turned into empty seats at 9 p.m. each year. They have just consumed personnel and computer tenses that change things around for no other reasons than to give $1000 of income back to the buyer.
They may think that you would do something that would get the cash into the carrier if these places were available. However, the "gaming the system" behavior of those who travel every weekend, over 100,000 mph per year (that's 2,000 mph per weekend every weekend, and there are those who doubling and tripling it), far from weighs what rare travellers choose to do.
In fact, some carriers do, i.e. in their higher class economies, plus or plus class businesses, as up-grades. Last minute reservations also often happen when those who need to go immediately are willing to make a large payment. This and the fact that empty airline seating offers less take-off mass, means carriers have a full tariff rather than 10 inexpensive last mile.
Airline companies have entire divisions devoted to optimising turnover and finding out such things. Airline companies already have a quota of persons to fill empty seats: staff and other non-revenue travellers often get these free tickets in stand-by mode. Today empty squares are much less common than in the past. Often last-minute offers are not too appealing to the travelling audience, as most holidaymakers need a round tour with a guarantee of returning the vehicle anyway.
Although carriers offer high rebates on last-minute services, they succeed in separating them from those who are willing to offer higher rates. As an example, some air carriers offer grief flying if you can show that you are going to a burial for the whole hostage. Some 30 years ago, when empty seating was more omnipresent, at least one air carrier was offering 30-day stand-by ticketing for foreigners.
It can be used for unrestricted domestic services within the USA, but only on a stand-by stand-by capacity. A lot of travelers buy fully reimbursable flex seats because they are only sure of their trip plan a single or two ( or less ) days before the trip. Those are about three to four time more expensive than the lowest ticket in the same cabin.
When you want to be able to sell low priced fares a few hour before your flight, many full flight passengers will already have specific itineraries. Therefore, you can purchase your ultimate rebate Last Minutes deals if available, and then reimburse your eligible ticket. So, to get a few hundred bucks out of some last-minute Pak, which, to be frank, is likely to be only slightly lucrative, after considering the additional gasoline, airports ground support charges, etc., you may have dropped hundreds and even hundreds of bucks from a few light color flexible ticket buyers who needed and were willing to afford it; but you actually let them get it for less.
Just think, you can make it to 100% sale of all these places. Aeronautics is not a very flowing or effective one. Thus, for example, not all carriers may use the same airport. Just so the state can save them.
Much of the price choices made by today' executive management are just a sequel to what their previous owners did. Exceptions are low-cost carriers such as Southwest or JetBlue in the US (or Easy Jet and Ryan Air in Europe), but the markets for gates or preferred use lease are not very liquid or clear, so the most effective carriers will not always be the winners.
Have a look at other airline pricing issues or ask your own one.