The easiest way to score cheap last-minute flights used to be to just turn up at the airport and ask for a standby ticket. Sadly, those days are gone. You can still sneak onto a standby list, but only if:
- You’ve missed the flight you booked.
- You’ve got a ticket for a later flight but arrived early.
- You’ve got friends working at the airline — but you’ll probably still have to wait.
The good news is, when you are ready to travel again, we’ve invented a few cool tools in our free app that can help you find the best last-minute flights. Read on to find out how to use them…
Find last-minute flight deals below 👇
Please note: All prices are subject to availability and may change depending on the airport of origin, as well as the dates selected. Travel restrictions can change at any time. We strongly recommend reviewing the coronavirus advice from your local authorities and governments, such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the US Department of State, as well as the guidance from the World Health Organization (WHO) — a reliable and trusted source of global news and information. Please check your airline’s flight cancellation, rebooking and refund policies, as well as travel bans and restrictions, before booking a flight. See the latest information about coronavirus flight cancellations here.
Search for cheap flight deals
- How to find cheap last minute flight deals in the Skyscanner app
- How to be on high alert for cheap flight tickets
- How to set up a Skyscanner Price Alert
- How to be flexible for better flight deals
- How to get the cheapest tickets by searching popular destinations
- How to wait until the very last minute
How to find cheap last-minute flight deals in the Skyscanner app
Looking for the cheapest time of the year to travel?
If you’re really flexible with your travel date, you can find which time of year is cheapest for travelling to your destination. You can do this in the app’s ‘Explore’ section, which is shown below. Pop in your destination at the top and click search.
You will then be able to view all cheap flights by selecting ‘See more flight deals’.
You can also input a preference for the length of your stay to make sure the flights shown fit your plans!
Open to travelling anywhere?
If you don’t have a specific destination in mind, you can get inspired and find the cheapest travel options by searching ‘Everywhere’ from either a country, city or airport. You can do this from within the Flights search itself by setting your destination to ‘Everywhere’ or by visiting ‘Explore’ within this app, and hitting ‘Explore Everywhere’ as shown below.
How to be on high alert for cheap flight tickets
Flight prices are funny things. They can fluctuate madly — choose to buy a flight to New York one minute, and it might cost less than a sweet pair of sneakers. Hold off booking for an hour, and the new price could put a dent in your pension.
So, how do you find the right price when it feels like you’re playing a random game of flight fare roulette? We’ve got a few tricks.
1) Signing up for different airlines’ newsletters is a good idea — they’ll let you know about last-minute flight sales, which often happens when the airline needs to fill up a route.
2) At Skyscanner, we analyze thousands of flight routes, combinations, and prices. We send out the best deals we find each week to our newsletter subscribers, so you might want to sign up for our newsletter, too. It’s free, so there’s no catch.
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3) You can also ask us to watch fare prices for your favorite route. If you’ve got your eye on a particular destination or flight, set up a Price Alert and we’ll email or text you when the price drops or rises. Sound good? We’ve got a quick guide to setting Price Alerts below. And, yes, our alerts are free, too.
How to set up a Skyscanner Price Alert
Price Alerts allow you to keep an eye on a specific flight, so you know when fares rise or fall in price. You can set on our website (so we’ll email you) or through our app (so we’ll notify you via your phone). Either way is super simple and will help you find the sweet spot for your flight.
On the website: First, head over to our homepage and search for the flight you’re interested in. (Where from, to, and which dates.) In the top right of the results page, you’ll see a button with a bell on it. Hit this and — hey presto — you’re done. We’ll email you with any updates about price changes.
In the app: Got our app? Great. Open it up and tap the plane icon to search for the flight you want. See the results? You’ll also see a round, grey button with a bell icon at the bottom left of your screen. Give it a tap. Et voilà, we’ll text when the price changes.
Read the full guide: How to set up a Price Alert
How to be flexible for better flight deals
Obviously, the more flexible you are, the more likely you’ll bag a big deal. But that doesn’t need to mean staggering bleary-eyed to catch a 3 am flight no one else wants.
In our experience, the more spontaneous you are, the better chance you have of bagging an awesome holiday that won’t bust the budget. And you get to tell the story, too. “I woke up in my apartment on Monday morning and was sipping a rum punch in Guadeloupe by the evening — and it only cost me $200” definitely sounds cool.
- Some package vacation companies sell off last-minute trips at huge discounts when their customers cancel. (The same is true for hotel rooms). It’s worth calling and asking if they have any same-day deals.
- Try using our ‘Everywhere’ destination option when searching on Skyscanner. We’ll show you the cheapest flights we can find from your preferred airport, on your specified dates, to places all over the world. You could end up literally anywhere!
How to win a last-minute popularity contest (hint: popular destination = more flights)
You can increase your chances of a cheap last-minute fare by looking at the most popular tourist resorts and cities. These destinations will have a larger number of scheduled flights, leaving from more airports — so you’ve got a better shot at finding a deal. Plus, lots of major airlines will be flying these routes, so you can expect competitive prices.
- Make the trip even cheaper by going all-inclusive. This is a solid last-minute option because all-inclusive holidays don’t require any advance planning — everything is included. Better still, we got our experts to put together a guide to the best all-inclusive resorts in the world.
- Popular resorts and cities have loads going on, so it shouldn’t be hard to book activities and entertainment at the last minute, either. We can also help you search for deals on major sights and attractions.
How to play flight-fare chicken
Fortune favors the brave, they say. Well, we say it depends on just how brave you want to be.
- Truth is, waiting to book until the week you want to travel can be tricky if you’re not flexible. Prices often increase when you try booking last-minute flights, probably because airlines assume you really need to get there — whatever the cost.
- But if you’re daring enough to play flight-fare chicken — waiting until the very last second before making a move — it could pay off. Flight prices can drop as the departure date draws palm-sweatily closer. If you want to travel on Friday, but can’t find the right fare on Tuesday, don’t give up just yet — try Wednesday, Thursday and the big day itself before you throw in the towel.
- If you’re searching with us, we’ll always show you the very best value fares at that time. In a matter of seconds, we can compare thousands of flight deals so you don’t need to do weeks of research.
So… the world is your oyster!
As you can see, there is a wide array of methods to try when it comes to snagging incredible last-minute flight deals. If you don’t see the price alert you want, try searching for a different time or location. If you don’t care where you go, definitely check out Skyscanner’s Everywhere Search. Or, if you’re feeling daring, why not try a little flight-fare chicken?
However you choose to book your last-minute deal, hopefully we’ve helped you get excited about your next trip. Happy travels!
Discover where you can go
Making plans to get back out there? Find out which countries you can visit and check the quarantine regulations for them with our interactive global map. Sign up, and you’ll even receive email updates when your top destinations reopen.
The answer depends on several factors, one of which has to do with where you want to go. Off-peak in one place means it’s peak season in another. For example, you may not find cheap flights to Florida in the winter but prices to destinations in California tend to drop.
If you are looking for specific months, however, according to travel data analyzed by Skyscanner in 2018-2019, the cheapest months to fly are January, February and September.
If you are looking for last-minute flights, it’s safe to say that you don’t have a lot of time to do extensive searches or monitor fares. And, you don’t have to when there are apps, like Skyscanner, for example, that allow users to use various money-saving search filters and features and set up price alerts for super cheap tickets, all the while comparing thousands of flight deals.
Last-minute is a loose term these days. If you are booking an overseas flight, last-minute could mean a month in advance. For domestic flights, it can be anywhere from days to weeks in advance.
The truth is flight fares fluctuate all the time, and airlines set prices based on demand, which generally follows peak and off-peak travel patterns. Most deals–last-minute and far-in-advanced–are found during the shoulder season when passenger demand is low, and airlines, as well as hotels, are willing to lower prices to attract travelers.
If you want to save big on last-minute flights, you have to be very flexible about your destination and travel dates. If you have a destination in mind, know its high and low travel seasons!