How to Book Last-Minute Flights Online

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What to Know

  • Sign up for cheap flight alerts or emails. Follow your area's airlines on social media to find deals. Book on the airline website.
  • Check flight-booking services such as Skyscanner and Momondo for last-minute flights. Book on the website or app.

This article explains ways to stay aware of cheap and last-minute flight options online. It also includes information on the value of a frequent flyer program.

Sign Up for Cheap Flight Alerts or Emails

Whether you're trying to save a few bucks or suddenly find yourself needing to travel somewhere soon, some websites and travel apps can help you find last-minute flight details and book a cheap ticket for your trip.

Most airlines offer free email or smartphone alerts that can be customized to let you know of new flight deals to specific locations or during certain windows. These services can be a fantastic way to stay up to date on the latest promotional campaigns and cheaper travel times.

Many airlines have free email newsletters that you can opt in to receive. These frequently promote upcoming discounted flights and frequent flyer promotions.

Follow Airlines on Social Media

In addition to signing up for airline email newsletters and notifications, follow your preferred airlines on social networks such as Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. This keeps you up to date on new deals. Plus, airline social accounts can be inspiring and could motivate you to travel to a location you wouldn't have considered.

Don't Forget Your Frequent Flyer Program

Sometimes it's worth paying a little extra to fly with an airline that supports your preferred frequent flyer program rather than one that doesn't. In addition to earning points that can be redeemed for flight discounts or free flights in the future, flying with a frequent flyer airline earns you status points. These points can level up your membership and help you earn more points.

A higher frequent flyer status can reward you with free access to airline lounges at airports, extra luggage options, and priority check-in. If paying an additional $100 or so for a flight boosts your frequent flyer status, it could be worth it.

Two popular websites for finding and comparing cheap flights are Skyscanner and Momondo.

Book a Last-Minute Flight With Skyscanner

The Skyscanner website.
What We Like
  • Skyscanner apps are available for iOS and Android.

  • Filter for flights that support points.

What We Don't Like
  • Budget and premium airlines show together in search results.

  • The large number of search results is overwhelming.

Skyscanner is a free service that allows travelers to search for departure and arrival destinations and compare flight prices from most major airlines. Skyscanner search results can be sorted by flight price or duration with filters available to show only flights that participate in your preferred frequent flyer program.

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Compare Flight Prices With Momondo

Momondo travel website for cheap flights.
What We Like
  • Compares search results with rival booking sites.

  • An appealing visual design.

What We Don't Like
  • No search results for Value Alliance flights.

  • Frequent annoying pop-ups.

Momondo is a flight booking service that's similar to Skyscanner. It features booking functionality for the major airlines and clearly ranks flights based on price or time of travel. Flights can be searched for and booked on the Momondo website or its free iOS and Android apps. The apps offer additional hotel and restaurant discovery features that use a smartphone's GPS technology.

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Is Booking a Flight at the Last Minute Cheaper?

Buying a ticket in the hours or days before a flight's departure can potentially reward you with a discount. However, so can planning ahead and purchasing your flight months before. It all comes down to how crowded the flight is, what time of year it's flying, and when in the week the plane departs.

Sometimes a last-minute flight is cheaper; sometimes, it's not.

The key is to frequently compare ticket prices and keep an eye out for promotional campaigns or slow, off-peak period deals. Last-minute flights can be cheaper, but not always.

Travel enthusiasts are consistently split on whether booking a flight at the last minute is cheaper than booking in advance.

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