How To Score Last-Minute Flight Deals And Save Big!
Are you a budget-savvy traveler dreaming of a last-minute getaway? Then you must know it’s possible to find cheap flights at the last minute and save big! But it takes a bit of strategy and flexibility to score the elusive flight bargain that offers 30-50% off standard fares.
The first step to scoring a cheap flight is to understand when the most affordable times are to fly. This means flying on weekdays instead of weekends and during “off-season” times, when fewer people are travelling. Avoid the higher-trafffic periods like major holidays, school vacations, business travel and long weekends.
Another pro tip is to benefit from greater flight selection and more affordable tickets by flying multiple segments. Splitting your flight up into two or more flights (rather than one long-distance flight) will give you more choices and lower ticket prices due to discounts for multipiece journeys.
For any further savings, the sooner you book, the better. Flight prices usually start to rise about seven weeks before the date of the journey, so if you book far enough in advance you can often benefit from discounts.
And while the most sought after discount sites usually feature only the most competitive prices, another way to save big on your ticket prices is to look for alternate routes. International flights that have to go through a transfer in a major hub like JFK or ORD often have significantly cheaper tickets. It may take a bit more time to reach your destination, but you’ll save big in the process.
Search the Lowest Fares
If you want to get your hands on the best last-minute deals, you’ll need to be flexible and creative when it comes to search. And to find those best fares you’ll want to do a quick search on a variety of websites, including those offering destination/date search tools, travel sites such as Expedia, Travelocity, and Kayak, and specialized search engines like Skyscanner and Momondo.
Depending on the route you’re taking and any special deals or discounts that may be offered, you can use these options to select the best flight with your ideal time frame and travel conditions. Be sure to search multiple airline sites, however, as fares vary and you may find even better deals elsewhere.
Today, several budget-friendly airfare search services are available. These include subscription-based services, like Scott’s Cheap Flights, or free sites, such as Airfarewatchdog. It may be just a matter of minutes before you find out about the best deal.
Plan Ahead To Benefit From Last Minute Deals
Another way to save on the cost of a flight is to plan ahead. For example, if you know you’re going somewhere in a few months, you can start searching for airfare early and get alerts for cost drops on that route. Last-minute flight deals typically involve booking the flight within 24 hours of its departure, so if you plan ahead you can get in on the action.
By planning ahead, you can make sure you’re getting the best deal possible and save money.
You can also keep track of the prices and monitor the trendlines so that when prices start dropping, you’re ready to book. Plus, if you find a good deal in advance and prices start to drop later on, you may be eligible for a refund, or if the price drops considerably, you can even switch tickets.
Flight discounts and offers are usually announced far in advance. So, following the social media accounts of travel agents, airlines, and flight discount services that offer great last-minute deals may help you secure the best price for your dream excursion.
And as the best booking time is usually a week to two weeks ahead of departure, you’ll be able to benefit from the late prices which are usually much lower than the original ones. That said, it’s important to remember that the most recent discounts tend to be distributed to passengers on short-notice.
Booking Tips to Get the Most Out of Last-Minute Deals
The easier it is to buy a flight ticket, the more money you will be able to save. Last-minute offers usually have no added fees or taxes, and with some additional research, you may even find airlines that allow you to have your ticket deliver digitally. This means no waiting at the counter for your ticket to arrive.
In addition, you may also be able to save money by booking a round-trip rather than a one-way ticket. Round trips often enable you to benefit from last-minute deals more easily and significantly lower prices on itineraries.
Finally, you should look into the airline’s trading policy. If an airline offers a refund or a ticket exchange policy, it may be a good idea to book two separate tickets and cancel the one you don’t want. You may then take advantage of any credit offered for a future flight.
Sign Up for Alerts
If you’re looking for the best deals, signing up for price alert services like Yapta and Hopper is a great way to benefit from last-minute offers. As soon as the price for your desired destination changes, you will get an alert and be able to take advantage of the offer before it’s gone.
Unlike most discounts, which require you to book at least 28 or 30 days in advance, these price alert services will give you access to the very best, short-term offers – often only 24 to 48 hours before the flight. That said, If you don’t mind doing a bit of waiting, you may find last-minute discounts worth taking advantage of.
Utilize Loyalty Programs
Finally, if you’re a frequent flyer with an airline, there’s a good chance you may be able to benefit from their loyalty program, which almost always has discounted last-minute fares. So, if you already have your airline of choice, sign up for its loyalty program, and you’ll be the first to know about any last-minute deals that are offered.
It’s also important to keep track of your progress as a member of the loyalty program. You may be able to earn additional benefits and bonuses, such as free tickets and flight upgrades.
Q: What’s the best way to find last-minute flight deals?
A: To find the best last-minute flight deals, be flexible with the dates and times you’re willing to fly, search multiple websites and apps for deals, sign up for price alerts, and take advantage of available loyalty programs.
Q: Is it cheaper to book a flight at the last minute?
A: It can be. Airlines sometimes discount prices on certain flights in the days leading up to the flight, so if you search and you’re flexible with dates and times, you may be able to score a great last-minute deal.
Q: How far in advance should I book flights to save money?
A: It depends on the airline and route, but generally prices tend to start rising 7 weeks before the date of the journey. So if you book far enough in advance, you can often get discounts. You can also look for alternate routes, often with more affordable tickets.