How to score last-minute flights

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When it comes to scoring last minute flight deals, the time of year and destination of your trip can make or break your travel budget. Popular travel destinations and dates during peak seasons mean it’ll be that much harder to land a deal – so plan accordingly. While booking a flight in advance is usually the best way to find a good deal, it’s not the only way: with the right tools and a bit of flexibility, know-how and a willingness to fly by the seat of your pants, you just might be able to find a cheap last minute flight to your destination.

So, break out your passport, pack your bags and get ready to go, as we help you land a last minute flight with these handy tips:

5 tips to help you find a last minute flight

1. Keep your flight details flexible.

The more flexible you are in your travel details, the more options you’ll have when it comes to finding a cheap flight. Booking a flight at the last minute means you may not have a lot of options in terms of flight times, routes or departure locations, but if you can keep these details of your travel plans flexible, you’ll greatly improve your chances of saving some cash and stretching your travel dollars.

While an early morning flight, an extra layover or added plane changes might add a little inconvenience to your trip, remember how nice it will be to have some extra money to use at your final destination (or at the airport lounge)!

2. Research last minute flight deals from airlines.

When an airline doesn’t have enough demand for a particular flight, staff look to fill up seats – and fast. This is great news for last minute travelers, since these still-empty seats generally translate to cheap flights. Often, airlines will try to fill these seats by posting travel deals to their websites, offering great discounts on last minute flights. Check airline websites directly for last minute travel deals, and don’t forget to sign up for frequent flyer programs and email newsletters, too.

Here at Cheapflights, we scour the web to handpick the best last minute travel deals from airlines, saving you time and money so you can move on to planning the rest of your trip!

3. Consider a vacation package as an alternative.

A good rule of thumb when it comes to landing a last minute deal: take what you can get. Remaining flight options might not match your travel needs or budget, but that doesn’t mean you have to bitterly swallow the cost of waiting until the last minute and take a more expensive flight; nor do you need to abandon your trip entirely – you’ll just have to switch up your last minute flight search tactics.

Consider a vacation package, which often allows you to pick up unsold flight and hotel bundles at incredibly discounted prices. You may even be able to snag an entire vacation package for less than the price of a typical last minute flight along the route you’re considering. That’s like flying standby only to end up living the high life in an empty first class seat!

4. Check a travel consolidator for last minute flight deals.

Travel consolidators buy up large quantities of tickets from airlines at volume price in order to make sure enough seats are sold in advance to keep the flights at capacity. When consolidators are unable to pre-sell enough seats, they typically look to unload them (at a heavy discount) to those searching for last minute flight deals.

We partner with the world’s top travel consolidators to make it easier for you to find and book great travel deals to your destination, regardless if it is international or domestic.

5. Consider student and youth fares.

Not to be overlooked, student travel deals and youth fares can provide travelers with significant savings on last minute flights.

Student travel deals typically offer greatly discounted rates to popular destinations outside mainland United States such as Europe, whereas youth fares offer discount airfare for fliers between the ages of 18 and 22. The best part? You don’t always have to be a student to get these fantastic deals.

Students can also use their student ID for even more travel discounts.

What are you waiting for? Search for last minute flights and start packing your bags!

Whether you’re looking to go on a business trip, see extended family, or explore the world, Cheapflights has plenty of last minute flight deals and vacation packages to get you there.

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(Featured photo: texaus1)

How to score last-minute flights was last modified: October 24th, 2016 by Melisse Hinkle
Author: Melisse Hinkle (385 posts)

A New England native but explorer at heart, Melisse has traveled throughout North America, biked through rice paddies in Bali, seen the Northern Lights in Iceland, walked alongside llamas in Machu Picchu and made her way around Europe while studying abroad in London. She is the Head of Content and Social Media for North America at Cheapflights.