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Need to book a flight leaving in a few days, but worried you won’t find a good price? We have you. From the best sites for finding last minute flight deals to tips for booking the best flight routes in a snap, keep scrolling to learn more about how to find the cheapest flight prices that match your last-minute travel style.
Last minute flights: everything you need to know
A last-minute flight is essentially air travel booked within two weeks of departure. Whether you’re flying economy or business class, travelers have plenty of ways to find last-minute deals to get to their next destination.
And as frequent fliers ourselves, we’ve picked up plenty of ideas and insights on how to grab the best last-minute flight deals over the years.
Are flights usually cheaper at the last minute?
They can be!
Who else can say they made the mistake of booking a flight way in advance to save money? But, if you do a simple flight search on your favorite travel website using your phone or computer, you’ll see that the price of the flight for the next day will sometimes be as cheap as flights for exactly the same route a month or two later.
The price of a last minute flight will really depend on whether the plane is nearly full or not. If there are still tons of seats left on a plane, the price may be rock bottom, especially with upgrading to a premium economy or business seat. However, if the plane is nearly sold out, that’s when it becomes difficult to get a bargain.
How to find the cheapest last minute flight deals
So not only does booking a trip early not necessarily guarantee a cheaper flight price, it can also have a few drawbacks. For starters, one problem with booking too far in advance is that you’ll have to spend more money on last-minute cancellations.
Plans and times can change a lot these days, especially with the pandemic, so booking last minute will give you an extra level of freedom.
What’s the best way to get last minute flight deals?
By applying just some (or all!) of these 6 travel tips are the best way to get last-minute flight deals:
- Stay flexible: Because a good flight deal can happen at any time, it is always best to be prepared if you want to travel at the last minute. If you are open (and able) to travel at any time of the day, this will certainly leave you with more options for finding flight deals.
- Find your favorite flight search engine: Check flight search engines (Skyscanner, Google Flights, Kayak, Momondo, for example), try them out and choose your favorite. Once you’ve familiarized yourself with all the tools at your disposal, finding the best last-minute flight deals will be a piece of cake. Be sure to check out the mobile and desktop deals.
- Consider alternative airports: If you want to fly to LA, do you have to land at LAX? Many flight search engines will give you the ability to search for all available flight deals to airports near your destination of choice. Try to be open to flying to another airport (which might give you more options to extend your trip!) if you want to find a great last-minute flight deal.
- Look for last minute deals on the airline’s webpage: Although the best flight deals can usually be found through third-party flight search companies, don’t rule out checking an airline’s page for last-minute flight deals. You’ll be surprised how many major airlines will post vacation deals in a few weeks, so it’s worth checking your favorite airlines for any contextual offers.
- light package: A good mantra in travel and in life. When it comes to cheap last-minute flight prices, sometimes the biggest expense will be extra baggage. Have your favorite carry-on bag ready to go and booking last minute deals will prove much easier.
- To try mix it up: To research one-way, round-trip and multi-city flights to see if a good deal can be found just by changing your whereabouts. We’ve seen the price of a return flight only $5 more than a one-way flight, making booking the entire trip a no-brainer. Same with multi-city. Sometimes adding a 24-72 hour layover in a city on the way to your final destination can actually be cheaper than going there directly, and gives you an extra city to explore if you’re flexible with the time.
The best sites for last minute flights
When I’m looking for the best flight deals, I like to browse a few places to see what the standard flight prices are for the destination I’m planning to travel to that month. Once I know the price of the flight better, I know when I’m getting a great last minute deal.
For example, the Skyscanner app has a tool that calculates the approximate prices of the cheapest flights every day. You can search “Whole month” for your chosen flight route and choose the best flight deal. This tool is really handy because you will also be able to see which days are usually the most expensive to travel during this period.
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