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New App Finds Last-Minute Airfare Price Drops

Inspired by (actually very inspired by) the last-minute hotel booking app Hotel Tonight, a newcomer called Flight Tonight hopes to help travelers find those instances in which airlines suddenly slash fares at the very last minute.

Humane last-minute fares are not easy to find, as anyone who has ever had to attend a faraway funeral or an unexpected meeting has discovered. But the app makers vow that they're out there.

"If you are flexible, there are instances where flight prices nose dive on the day of departure," writes Hopper, the site behind the app. "Since these situations can be rare, there's no easy way to find these last-minute flight deals."

Unlike Hotel Tonight, which makes deals with properties, Hopper says its app obtains its prices by constantly combing through the latest numbers to push forward the best prices for last-minute travel. 

You enter your home location (or the app auto-senses) and up comes a list of the most surprisingly low prices for flights flying as soon as a few hours in the future, based on conjecture of how long you plan to stay there and return. That interface makes it possible to come up with a last-minute trip to somewhere you might never have thought of going, the way the old Site59 did—"Sure, I'll finally check out Charleston!" If you need to fly somewhere specific, you must look through the list to see if any of the discovered low fares agree with your plans. Then it sends you onward to book the flight directly from the site where it found it.

The app makes no promises of how low the prices will be—so you should always check that yourself by doing a search on a standard airfare search engine and comparing what you get—but searching today, I found some good rates if I wanted to go to Santo Domingo (under $300 round-trip for a a week-long trip), and $400 to go round-trip to Sarasota at a time when the airlines I checked were charging that for each one-way ticket. 

Flight Tonight, which is currently only for iOS devices (download for free from the iTunes Store here) makes its money on the back end and so it does not charge the passenger extra fees. It currently focuses only on North American airfares.

You can follow Jason (@bastable) and Frommers (@Frommers) on Twitter.