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How to Find Cheap Last Minute Flights and Airfare Deals

Need to purchase a cheap last-minute flight but don’t know how? Finding flights for your last-minute travel can often be challenging and most of the time, less certain. Thankfully, this option is available to travelers and also to those passengers that already have reservations booked in advance, but want to take an earlier flight for whatever reason.

In this travel guide blog, we will provide you with a few useful tips on how to find cheap last-minute flights, especially when there is an urgent need for travel. Also, we will take a look at the possibilities of getting better deals on airfares.

A Brief Overview of Last-Minute Flights

Although last-minute flights are seen as the only option to get to your desired destination urgently, on the other hand, some travelers often see it as a way of saving money. It is true that purchasing a flight at the last minute of your travel schedule may come cheap. But, being too certain that a last-minute flight is cheaper may not always be true because the availability, destination, and price may vary from one airline carrier to another.

Airline carriers always try to sell as many tickets in order to fill the seats on their aircraft. From a business point of view, flying a partially empty plane would mean a significant loss of revenue for the airline company. Therefore, to prevent such losses, sometimes airline carriers may also “overbook” their flights, which can cause confusion in many passengers.

You can read in detail about overbooked flights on our blog.

In general, last-minute flights can be referred to as:

(a) A flight’s departure is in less than a week

(b) A same-day flight (usually available for change or standby)

(c) A flight’s departure is in a few minutes or hours

Some airline carriers that still have a few seats vacant before departure usually allow travelers looking for last-minute flights to purchase tickets for that flight.

However, there is a major setback when purchasing a flight ticket for last-minute travel. It is primarily with regard to route and destination among other factors. For example, you need to fly immediately to say, Honolulu, USA from San Francisco via American Airlines in the evening on that particular day. Unfortunately, the airline carrier does not have any of its flights flying to that route at that time of the day. So, you may need to find another airline whose flight is en route to the destination you need to fly to ASAP. In addition, there may be a difference in the airfare – it may be higher or reasonably lower.

Ways You Can Find Cheaper Flights for Your Last-Minute Travel

Sometimes, you may feel the need to travel without making prior planning. Also, given the fact that a last-minute flight can’t be booked in advance, i.e., way back to weeks or months, therefore, you will need to make a few considerations.

Here are some tips to help you easily find cheap last-minute flights for your travel, whether it’s a domestic or international destination.

Have a Flexible Travel Date

An important thing to keep in mind when making a last-minute travel decision is to avoid having any particular or fixed dates. Instead, prefer having your travel dates as much flexible as possible. A benefit of having flexible travel dates is that you could get confirmed tickets, availability of route and destination, and perhaps, cheaper deals on airfares as well.

Most of the time, even if there is a last-minute flight available for the same date, the route and destination are not. This further makes the traveler frustrated and has to spend more time finding a flight that he/she can board in order to get to their destination.

Prefer Weekdays and Off-peak Season

Similar to choosing flexible travel dates, choosing weekdays over weekends and off-peak season over peak season also matters when finding a confirmed last-minute flight.

During weekdays and peak seasons, airline carriers generally have all their flights booked (some overbooked). These are the times when travelers frequent in large numbers, even crowding the airports. Hence, you may have little to no chance of finding flights at the last minute.

Therefore, it is a good idea to find one during weekends and non-holidays. The airfare can also be lower compared to other days and seasons. So, you may have a better chance here.

Choose Less Popular Destinations

Another important thing to consider when searching for a flight at the last minute is the destination you want to fly to quickly.

Choosing a less popular destination for your travel will significantly depend on the availability of flights serving that route. Also, traveling to cities, whether domestic or international, where people are less likely to visit during the given time or day means you will have greater chances of finding cheaper airfares.

Look for Budget Airlines

Budget airlines sometimes, fly to alternative airports that are not the usual main or hub airports like in major cities. These airline carriers take this approach in order to cut down on their expenses. Such airports also have ground transportation services, such as taxis and car rentals available for passengers to travel further.

This can also be seen as an advantage if you are trying to get a cheap last-minute flight for your intended destination. When you compare a budget airline with other full-service commercial airline carriers, these low-cost carriers are, in fact, much cheaper. The reason is budget airlines sacrifice a lot on comfort, luxury, and a few in-flight services or facilities. So, even if you find a budget airline for a cheaper airfare, you may have to do without comfort.

Get Early Morning or a Late Night’s Flight

If you are willing to sacrifice your sleep, there are early morning and late night flights that often have lower airfares, and may be available at the last minute.

This is the window when not many travellers feel convenient to fly, except those who have urgent matters to deal with at places. So, you can grab this opportunity and find a cheap last minute flight to your intended destination, either early morning or late night.

Frequent Flyers Can Use Miles

If you are a frequent flyer, you can make great use of your accumulated miles to find and book a last minute flight.

Many airline carriers offer reward programs to customers that allow them to redeem these miles or points for various purposes, even purchase certain products and/or services. These reward programs can also be used with partner airlines, also called alliance members of an airline carrier.

If you are not a frequent flyer, you can sign up with an airline’s travel rewards program and make the most of it for your future travels. In addition, you can also earn reward points without flying. This means you can opt for credit card sign up bonus, shop online, participate in surveys and grab special offers from the airline’s partners.

Do Online Search

The internet has become an integral part of our daily lives. This technology makes our day-to-day activities efficient. This means you can also find last minute flights online on either the airline carrier’s website or do a little search on sites, like Google Flights. There are also several online travel agencies (or OTAs) that provide you access to searching and booking flights through their websites.

It is known that OTAs offer lower airfares or discounts, so you may be lucky to get a cheap last minute flight online. You may also find package deals.

You can read more about these online travel agencies on our blog here.


Finding a last minute flight and at a cheaper rate may be difficult, but not impossible. Nonetheless, considering a few important that are given above, you should be able to get one and without burning holes in your pocket.

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