How to Find Last-Minute Flights

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Is it better to book early or get a late deal?

Looking to find a great deal, but not too bothered where the flight ends up? If you’re flexible about your destination and looking to fly in the very short term, last-minute flights could be the answer for big savings…

When Can Late Deals Work?

The best time to consider searching for last-minute deals is when, at a spur of the moment, you decide to take a break and book a quick holiday.

The best chance of finding a great deal for a last-minute flight is for typical “holiday” destinations, popular with tour operators and travel agents. As the date of departure approaches, if there are empty seats on the planes the travel agents will want to offload them at any price.

The prices for flights with traditional airlines will tend to increase as time goes on. The best time to get the cheapest fares are when the tickets are first released, or in a seat sale. With charter airlines, on the contrary, late deals are often available. When a charter airline has sold the majority of its seats, it then decides to sell the spare seats at cheaper prices.

When to Book Early

When it comes to flag carriers such as Qantas, you needn’t wait until the week before your holiday to get the best deal on cheap flights. In fact, by booking your flight sooner rather than later, you could easily land yourself a top deal and be left with plenty of cash to spend while you’re away.

By booking early, not only can you feel safe in the knowledge that your trip is arranged, you could also make some huge savings. If you’re planning a holiday, especially one that needs to be scheduled for the school holidays, search for cheap flights as early on as possible, as this is a very busy season to travel.

Key Things to Remember when Looking for Last Minute Cheap Flighs

Key things when it comes to finding last minute cheap flights or just general cheap flights are the following:

  • Subscribe to newsletters from different airlines.
  • Become executive members and earn Velocity Points.
  • Be flexible.
  • Compare dates and airlines

1. Research the airlines

Hit up the airlines directly in every which way possible. From websites like Cheapflights that search hundreds of airlines in the blink of an eye to frequent-flyer programs to email newsletters, you’ll often discover the cheapest fare straight from the source. A great little tip? When a flight struggles to be filled, airlines look to dish out spare seats at a reduced price as quickly as possible – which is great if you’re a last-minute traveller. This is when it pays to keep your eye on their website and mail outs for last-minute promotions.

2. Research airports

Research, research, research. Taxes and surcharges can easily double the price of an airfare so it pays to look into the airports you’ll be flying into. For instance, Britain has the second most expensive Air Passenger Duty in the world, but if you fly into somewhere like Paris, your air departure taxes are about ten times lower. In fact, places like Belgium, Spain, Ireland and the Netherlands have cut their Air Passenger Duty tax altogether.

last minute flights

3. Be Flexible

If you have no preference for where you are going, when you are going or where you are flying out of then you can find some absolute bargains. Sometimes even just a small alteration to the time you travel can significantly cut down prices. Flying out in the early hours of the morning or late at night or deciding to depart a day or two around your ideal flight date can mean you pay just a fraction of the cost.

4. Consider a holiday package

Okay, so seasoned travellers tend to shy away from packages, but in fact, they can often help you save serious holiday coin… especially when it comes to island escapes. Designed to make planning and booking your holiday a breeze, island packages are a stress-free way to save time and money by combining all the basics like flights and accommodation, with added extras like transfers, travel insurance, tours, car hire, meals and more. By considering a packaged deal, you could potentially pick up unsold flight and hotel bundles at incredibly discounted prices, meaning you could potentially score an entire holiday for less than the price of a typical last-minute flight. It’s worth a bit of research.

5. Consider student or youth fares

If you’re eligible, student travel deals and youth fares can provide travellers with significant savings on last-minute flights. In Australia, generally discounted fares can be offered to 18–35 year olds (though you don’t always have to be a student to score these fantastic deals), and special youth fares can be offered to travellers under the age of 26. Travellers can also obtain an International Student, Youth or Teacher Identity card for savings:

A) Student (ISIC)

Full time students can get up to 40% off international fares as well as savings in other countries on accommodation, food, entertainment and more.

B) Youth (IYTC)

Travellers 30 years or younger can save on exclusive youth fares, plus savings around the world on accommodation, food, entertainment and more.

C) Teacher (ITIC)

Full time teachers can save on exclusive youth fares, plus savings around the world on accommodation, food, entertainment and more.

6. Seek out key travel blogs to follow

Who better to offer tips than the people that have already done it? Sign up to as many relevant travel blogs as you can and immerse yourself in the endless reams of travel advice whether it’s from backpackers on a budget or frequent holiday-makers. Cheapflights also offers lots of helpful and informative guides to get you better clued up for your future travel plans, from ‘How To’ lists to travel advice to recommendations.

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Featured image by epSos .de

How to Find Last-Minute Flights was last modified: October 20th, 2016 by Kara Segedin
Author: Kara Segedin (256 posts)

Writer, traveller, Tweeter, blogger and part-time adventurer. A kiwi living in London off to explore the world! I can never travel enough!