Last-minute flights 101

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Travelling last minute can be exciting. It’s a great way to shake up your routine, inject some spontaneity into your life and there’s potential for big savings depending on when you’re travelling and where. If you’re able to travel on a whim or you’re curious about how best to find a last-minute flight, we have some tips to help you out.

Be flexible with date and location

Getting a wallet-friendly last-minute flight really comes down to how flexible you are with travel dates. The more date combinations you can search, the more chances you have at nabbing a well-priced last-minute fare. Whereas fixed dates box you in and you’ll likely end up having to spend more. The same goes for location. Searching for flights to multiple destinations only increases your odds of hitting on a good last-minute flight deal.

Be flexible with the details, too

When it comes to last minute vacations, someone who wants to stay in a particular type of hotel, in a specific room will have less luck finding a last-minute vacation deal than someone who just wants to go somewhere warm and sunny. The more you can be flexible about, the more luck you’ll have to book a last-minute trip that also saves you money.

Avoid major holidays

Waiting until the last minute to book your trip home for Christmas or to plan your March break vacation is going to work against you. In addition to being flexible with your travel dates, avoid trying to find a last-minute flight during the most popular travel times. Flights (and not to mention hotel rooms) will be full and there will be much less chance of a deal being found. It can also be helpful to search for last-minute flights during a destination’s low season when airlines will want to fill seats.

Use social media and sign up for newsletters

Getting social media savvy may help if you want to increase your odds of finding a last-minute flight. So can signing up for newsletters, too. In both cases you’ll be the first to know if there are last minute deals to be had, whether to fill seats on an undersold flight, generate excitement about a specific destination or to promote a new route.

Try an app

In addition to searching Cheapflights to find a last-minute flight, you can try an app designed to help you get out of town in a hurry. Get the Flight Out (GTFO) is an app that helps aspiring travellers be more spontaneous by helping them find the best-priced round trip flights leaving from their location today or tomorrow morning. Simply enter your home airport to discover last-minute flights to both domestic and international destinations. Flights are updated every second so you’ll always have ample options to escape.

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Look for package deals

Often, when you’re searching for last minute flights, the most significant savings are in accommodations and package vacations rather than airfare. Cheap last-minute flights are out there, but it might be easier to find deals with packages, rather than flights alone.

Book for want, not need

When it comes to booking a last-minute flight it’s best to do it when you don’t have to be somewhere, but rather just want to go somewhere. Waiting to book a last-minute flight for something set in stone (a conference you need to attend, a friend’s wedding) means you have zero flexibility and will likely end up spending more than you want to. In instances where you have to be somewhere at a specific time, it’s best to book in advance.

Travel solo

Finding one well-priced last-minute flight is one thing, finding two or three is going to be tough so your best bet for a spontaneous getaway that won’t break the bank is to go alone. For groups who want to get away together, packaged vacations might be a better bet since they’re more commonly discounted last minute than flights alone. If there are a few of you looking to travel last minute, you’ll have the best luck if all of you can be flexible with dates and locations.

Travel during the week

It can often be cheaper when you’re looking for last-minute flights to avoid travelling over the weekend, which can be more expensive. Instead, aim for a departure on a Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday since many people prefer to leave on weekends, those flights more expensive.

When you do see a good last-minute travel deal, it’s a good idea to snap it up as soon as you see it assuming you’re ready to pack your bags. Who knows when and if something better will come along.

Last-minute flights 101 was last modified: December 4th, 2015 by Jessica Padykula
Author: Jessica Padykula (322 posts)

Jessica Padykula is a Toronto-based writer and editor who regularly covers travel and lifestyle trends. When she’s not writing or researching a story she can be found planning trips to places near and far in a never-ending quest to travel the world.