Fast Facts on Same Day Flights
- It’s not a set-in-stone fact that fares on same day flights are sky-high.
- Tools like Skyscanner can increase your chances of scoring cheap same day flights from United States airports.
- Using award miles is a way to avoid high prices on same day flights, but sometimes involves paying penalty fees.
- If you’re flying internationally, finding cheap same day flights might be easier than for domestic travel.
- Booking same day flights can flag you in security systems, and necessitate additional screening, so be prepared.
Think you’ll never need to book a same day flight? Think again! Whether for an unexpected business trip or a Saturday morning when you suddenly realize you need a weekend away, the necessity for same day flights can come up more often than you might imagine.
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Myths About Same Day Flights
In the past, airlines referred to prices for same day flights as “walk up fares.” This reflected the fact that you’d only need to pay them if you walked up to the counter and purchased your ticket at the time of check-in, rather than booking in advance with a travel agent.
Depending on your airline’s rules, however, you’ll only need to “walk up” if you want to book extremely close-in. If you don’t need to fly any sooner than 2-3 hours in the future (in most cases), you should be able to book and receive confirmation for same day flights as you would any other itinerary.
Searching flights with Skyscanner can reveal the cheapest same day travel deals.
Another same day flights myth is that flying on the same day is always expensive. While so-called “walk-up” prices on certain carriers tend to be higher than advance promotional fares, particularly on domestic sectors, this simply isn’t always a set rule.
In fact, as you’re about to see, it can be possible to score cheap same day flights, depending on where and what airline you’re flying.
Book Same Day Flights with the Skyscanner App
One way to score cheap same day flights is to use a tool like the Skyscanner app, which aggregates all available fares and flights. This will allow you to easily see which airline assesses the least significant fare penalty for booking same day flights, and choose accordingly.
If you simply visit the website of your usual air carrier or choice, you might book expensive same day flights with the assumption that cheaper ones don’t exist on other airlines. The Skyscanner app presents all the deals available.
Open the Skyscanner app and select today’s date from the calendar to find same day flight deals. You can select whichever date you wish for your return flight.
If you perform an “everywhere” search for your preferred dates then you will be presented with destinations and the best available prices. If you know where you want to fly to then you can quickly find same day flights.
Other tips for finding cheap same day flights are the same ones that apply to scoring affordable flights booked one or more days in advance. For example, flexibility can be key. Can you fly from San Antonio or Houston instead of Austin?
Are you willing to endure a short layover to say $100 (or a long one to save $200)? Whether you book two hours in advance or two months, many of the same best practices apply when a great bargain is your objective.
Same Day Award Flights
What’s better than cheap same day flights? Free same days flights! While frequent flyer miles aren’t technically “free,” as you’ll know if you ever play the Miles & Points game, rates for award flights tend to remain the same right up until the day of travel, although this general truth comes with some caveats.
Most notably, that award seats are not always available on the same day. Using award miles to score cheap same day flights should be a backup plan, not your main strategy.
Additionally, while the number of miles you’ll need for a certain flight will usually be the same regardless of when you book, some airlines levy an additional fee for bookings made close to the time of travel.
Furthermore, booking a last second award flight might trigger an airline website’s fraud prevention system, so if you don’t receive your confirmation within an hour or so, you should call the reservations hotline to make sure your booking went through.
Same Day International Flights
Most notably, booking same day flights to the United States can trigger the TSA’s database, and result in the dreaded “SSSS” code being printed on your boarding pass. In this case, you’ll be subject to increased scrutiny as you pass through the security checkpoint, which can require between 15 minutes to an hour more of your time, depending on which airport you’re flying through.
The Bottom Line
As you can see, booking same day flights isn’t always a walk in the park. On the other hand, cheap same day flights do exist, even to international destinations. As long as you’re aware of the potential pitfalls of booking same day flights, the experience shouldn’t be much more stressful than booking any other sort of flight. TIP: If you’re slightly more flexible, do make sure to subscribe to Skyscanner’s Price Alerts!