How to get last-minute cheap airline tickets: 10 rules for finding and booking cheap flights

By Tetiana PavlichenkoNov 12, 2023 13:58 PMBudget trips
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How to get last-minute cheap airline tickets: 10 rules for finding and booking cheap flights
Finding cheap tickets takes time and systematic monitoring. Source: Image rawpixel.com/Freepik

Plane tickets are often a major expense in the travel budget. Air travel is not a cheap pleasure. The basic advice to travellers is that cheap tickets should be booked as early as possible, rather than buying them at the last minute.

But what to do if the moment is gone? Earlier. airlines used to have a lot of interesting offers on how to find cheap last-minute flights to anywhere. But with time, their number has been decreasing. However, there are still loopholes to get the best last-minute flight deals that you can take advantage of. Be flexible and try putting into practice these 10 tips on how to get cheap last-second flights.

1. Don't stop at one or two destinations

You should expand your list of suitable destinations as much as possible if you have certain dates picked out for your trip. If you are planning a trip for your vacation, make a list of places you would like to visit this time and don't limit yourself to just a few destinations. You will have a much better chance of getting a good deal on at least one of a large number of items than if you wait for a cheap ticket to only one destination. As mentioned earlier, the basic principle of how to get really cheap last-minute flights is to be as flexible as possible during the planning process.

2. If you can't choose a destination, experiment with dates

How to get last-minute cheap airline tickets: 10 rules for finding and booking cheap flights
Be flexible to save money on tickets. Source: Image StockSnap/Pixabay

If you've already decided on your destination and can't or won't change it, then leave at least as much flexibility as possible regarding your travel date. Flexibility in time is the second most important tip on how to get last-minute cheap airline tickets. It's impossible to know exactly when good cheap tickets will be available to that destination, so you should always be on the lookout and keep your calendar open.

3. Check several airports at once

When analyzing airline offers, don't just consider international airports or the one closest to you. Check everything within a reasonable distance, even small regional ones. Add major domestic airports to your list to increase your chances even more. Take into account that you will still have to get to the airport, so think about the time to do this and the necessary costs in advance. As practice shows, it can be more cost-effective to buy cheaper flights last minute and take two flights from a distant airport than one flight from your home airport.

4. "Last minute" comes in many forms

When travellers discuss and make recommendations on how to find cheap last-minute flights, many forget that people have different approaches to planning and "last minute" may have different meanings for them. Some people plan far in advance, meaning that the "last minute" is a month before departure for them. Others may pack for a trip spontaneously and book a ticket a day in advance. According to the Kayak platform, the most favourable "last minute" comes at least a week before departure. Then there is a strong jump in prices for both domestic and international flights in the next seven days.

5. Look for one ticket in one try

Even if you are planning a company trip, you should always enter one ticket into your search if you are looking for ways to find last-minute cheap flights. You may have one or two tickets available at the lowest fare at the moment, and you may be looking for a flight for a group of three or four people. In this case, the system will not show you the cheapest tickets but will offer you other tickets that will be available for the whole company at a more expensive fare. If several people are travelling, and you have found, for example, two tickets at a low cost and one at a higher cost, you can link your reservations. This way you will let the airline know that you are travelling together.

6. Use apps

Modern apps can make it much easier for you to figure out how to get cheap plane tickets last minute. These are great options so you don't have to spend all your free time monitoring flights. For example, you can enable alerts for ticket price changes on Kayak. Google Flights and Skyscanner provide similar services. Good services that help you get cheap last-minute flights also include platforms like Going and Dollar Flight Club.

7. Check for updates when you sign up

This isn't so much a way of getting cheap last-minute flights at the airport as it is an opportunity to upgrade favourably. Check the airline's website or app to see if an upgrade is available or ask the agent at the check-in desk. A business class ticket can cost thousands of dollars. However, you can get such an offer for only a few hundred dollars extra or even less with a last-minute upgrade.

8. Look for round-trip flights separately

How to get last-minute cheap airline tickets: 10 rules for finding and booking cheap flights
Check ticket prices in different combinations. Source: Image rawpixel.com/Freepik

One of the most effective ways to buy last-minute cheap flights is to book round-trip tickets and return tickets in separate bookings. This is often much cheaper than booking both ways at once. This is especially true if you are mixing airports. Yes, you will have to spend a lot of time researching available offers, but the potential benefits will justify the effort.

9. Popular vacation periods are not for you

If the question of booking last minute is at the top of your list when planning your trip, forget about holiday periods and peak dates. For example, you're most likely to fail during spring break or Christmas holidays. Ticket prices are also traditionally higher for weekend flights, so consider mid-week.

10. Double-check the price

Even if you've already booked your flight in advance, there is a way for you to get cheap airfare last minute. Most companies have eliminated cancellation fees, so it makes sense that you should check the price of your booked flights. Let's say you bought a ticket for $500 and today's price is $400. In that case, you can cancel for an e-credit (or voucher) and re-purchase the ticket for $400. This method is beneficial if you fly regularly as you can spend the difference in cost only on further flights. You can usually use the funds within a year, but it is best to check the rules of the airline so that the credit does not expire.

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