How to Book Last-Minute Flights Online

Travel on your mind? Go already!

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.

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

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

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

Sign Up for Cheap Flight Alerts or Emails

Most airlines offer free email or smart phone 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 or cheaper travel times.

Many airlines also have several 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, it is a good idea to follow your preferred airlines on social networks such as Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. Not only does this keep you up to date on new deals, but airline social accounts can also be inspiring to follow and could motivate you to travel to a location you wouldn't have considered otherwise.

Don't Forget Your Frequent Flyer Program

Sometimes it is 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 also earns you status points that can level up your membership and help you earn even 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, so if paying an additional $100 or so for a flight boosts your frequent flyer status, it could well be worth it.

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

Booking a Last-Minute Flight With SkyScanner

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

  • You can filter for flights that support points.

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

  • 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.

Compare Flight Prices With Momondo

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

  • 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 all 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 via its free iOS and Android apps with the apps offering additional hotel and restaurant discovery features that use your smartphone's GPS technology.