Feeling the sudden urge to plan a getaway? Or did you forget to book a ticket for your vacation? If you’re someone who tends to leave things until the last minute, or you just impulsively want a quick vacation, you may be familiar with the panic that sets in when you realize you need to book a plane ticket in a hurry.
While it may seem like you’re out of luck when it comes to finding affordable fares at the last minute, there are actually a few strategies you can use to score a good deal.
In this article, we’ll explore some tips for finding cheap plane tickets at the eleventh hour, so you can travel without breaking the bank.
1. Be Flexible with Travel Dates and Destinations
One of the best ways to find last-minute deals on plane tickets is to be flexible with your travel dates and destinations. For example, you might be able to find a cheaper fare if you’re willing to fly on a weekday rather than a weekend, or if you’re willing to fly to a nearby airport rather than your desired destination.
To find the best deals, it can be helpful to use a search engine or fare comparison sites like Kayak or Expedia. These sites allow you to enter your travel dates and destination and see a range of fares from different airlines and travel agencies, making it easy to compare prices and find the best deal.
2. Be Open to Alternative Routes and Airlines
Another strategy for finding cheap last-minute plane tickets is to be open to alternative routes and airlines. Sometimes, you can save a significant amount of money by flying with a smaller, budget airline or by taking a flight with a layover rather than a direct route. While this may not be the most convenient option, the savings can be worth it if you’re able to find a particularly good deal.
Hot Tip: There are many apps available that look for the best deals on flights, make sure to compare prices if you have the time to.
3. Sign up for Deals Alerts from Airlines and Travel Sites
In addition to using search engines and fare comparison sites, it’s also helpful to sign up for alerts from airlines and travel booking sites. Many companies offer email or text alerts for last-minute deals and discounts, which can be a great way to stay informed about the latest fares and promotions.
4. Buy One-Way Ticket
One way to save money on airfare is to book one-way flights with different airlines or to depart from and arrive at different airports. Many airlines offer reasonable prices for one-way flights, so you might find that one airline is cheaper for the outbound flight while another is more affordable for the return. By mixing and matching your flights, you could potentially save money and still get to your destination.
5. Book a Red-Eye
Getting a “red-eye” flight, or a flight that departs late at night or early in the morning can sometimes be a way to save money on airfare. These flights are often less popular than daytime flights, so airlines may offer discounted fares in order to fill seats that would otherwise go empty.
If you’re planning to book a red-eye flight, there are a few tips you can follow to make the experience more comfortable and enjoyable:
- Get some rest before your flight.
- Bring a neck pillow and eye mask.
- Wear comfortable clothing.
- Avoid caffeine and alcohol.
6. Browse Cheap Tickets Using Incognito Browser
To avoid that, it’s a good idea to search for flights in incognito or private browsing mode. In Google Chrome or Safari, you can enable incognito mode by pressing Command (or Control if you’re using a PC) + Shift + N. In Mozilla Firefox or Internet Explorer, you can enable private browsing mode by pressing Command (or Control if you’re using a PC) + Shift + P.
7. Look for Student Discounts and Deals
Many airlines and travel booking sites offer discounts for students, which can be a great way to save money on flights. To find student discounts, you’ll generally need to show proof of enrollment at a college or university. This can usually be done by showing a student ID to confirm your enrollment or checking with your school for discount codes.
All in all, finding cheap plane tickets at the last minute can be a challenge, but it is possible with a little bit of planning, research, and flexibility.