How to Save Money on Last Minute Flights

Last-minute flight deals can offer lots of fun for any traveler looking for a spontaneous adventure. As long as you’re flexible and ready to go within 24 hours, you’ll probably end up getting a really cheap seat. Plus, with more tools on the internet aimed at helping travelers get good deals (and fill those empty seats that are costing them money), it’s become easier than ever. Here, we put together all the little tips, tricks, and secrets to save money on last-minute flights.

FUN FACT #1: Unless the itinerary says otherwise, you can collect air miles on these discounted flights. When you get to the airport, make sure your frequent flyer number is in the airline’s computer and save your itinerary to make sure the points are added to your account afterward.

FUN FACT #2: Even if you think you can’t collect air miles on one of these flights, ask at the airport. Many times — if you’re polite — a nice employee will hook you up on site.

Google Flights, SkyScanner

Google Flights and Skyscanner track flight prices and send you alerts about any changes or drops in ticket prices. You can also compare airlines, flight times, and dates. If you’re looking for an adventure, some of these websites will allow you to put in your location and leave the destination open. Who knows, you just might find an awesome deal to London on a random Wednesday. Flexibility required.

Use Miles and Points

Sometimes, last minute flights aren’t for the adventurous, but for those with an emergency. Whatever the reason, you may need to be on a flight 10 minutes ago. This is the time to whip out those miles and points to get a huge discount on your ticket. If you’re a collector and have lots of points to spend, you may even be able to get on for free.

Use Another Airport

Photo: iStock

If you’re flying from New York to Paris, you might find that a flight from JFK to Charles de Gaulle Airport is more expensive than flying from Newark to Orly Airport. For Manhattanites, this means crossing over into New Jersey, but the difference in ticket prices will be worth it. If you have a car, you can expand your departure airport even further. Remember, it’s usually cheaper to fly out of a bigger airport.

Combine a Rental Car or Hotel Room

Fast food joints love combo meals, so it’s no surprise that the travel industry loves combo deals as well. Add a hotel room or rental car (or both) to your trip and you might find that you’re paying only a fraction of the price for your plane ticket. Hotels looking to sell rooms last minute may also have hidden deals or special pricing, so head to a website like Kayak to find a great combo travel deal.

Fly on a Weekday

Most people work Monday through Friday, morning to afternoon. The only time they can conveniently travel without burning extra vacation days is on the weekends or in the evenings. Airlines know this, so those flights are usually more expensive; however, if you are a digital nomad with a flexible lifestyle and schedule, then you probably don’t even care about the days of the week.

Booking your flight on a Tuesday morning will be cheaper than flying out Friday afternoon. 

How to Save Money on Last Minute Flights — Sources