Booking a last-minute flight deal is a great way to save money on your next trip. If you’re thinking about a last-minute vacation or mini-getaway in the future, here are our some simple tricks that will help you find insanely cheap flights and travel deals at the last minute.
Find cheap last-minute vacations using these hacks
- Be flexible with your travel dates
- Stay connected
- Pick your destination on the best time to book
- Fly with carry-on only
- Use our Maps feature to find cheap last-minute deals
- Check for same day or stand by status
- Don’t travel during peak season
- Splurge on a package vacation
1. Be flexible with your travel dates
If you’re trying to find a cheap last-minute flight deal, it’s best to be flexible with both your destination and travel dates. With an open mind, there are so many possibilities for getting some insanely cheap deals on travel. Intrigued? Here are a couple of ways you can do that with Skyscanner.
Search ‘Everywhere’ as a destination
When you book your flight with Skyscanner, you don’t need to have an exact destination in mind. Choose your next adventure by doing an ‘Everywhere’ search and just go with the flow. This handy flight search tool will help you find amazing places to go and point you in the right direction for the best last-minute flight deals available in the coming days, weeks, and months.
Play around with your departure and return dates
In both the ‘Depart’ and ‘Return’ sections of the Skyscanner flight search homepage, select ‘Whole Month’ and then click ‘Cheapest Month.’ Then select ‘Search Flights’ for the best flight options. Look for the prices that are coloured green because this means they are the cheapest last-minute flight deals.
Check for alternative airports
Did you know that there are five main airports in Los Angeles? If your travel goal is to see a new city but your heart’s not set on what airport you will be flying in or out of, it’s worth checking for alternative airports. Who knows, you might snag a great last-minute flight deal from a different airport! Read about how our ‘Airports Near Me’ flight search function can help save you time and money on a last-minute vacation.
2. Stay connected
Keep your eyes peeled (and your phone on!). You don’t necessarily have to spend your day searching in order to find that insanely cheap last-minute travel deal you’ve been dreaming about. Sometimes all it takes to find a good price is being tuned into the buzz. The more options and info you have, the more possibilities you’ll have for booking cheap last-minute vacations!
Set up price alerts
If you’ve got a particular destination in mind, set up Skyscanner Price Alerts and be the first to know when a cheap last-minute travel deal pops up. This way, we do the hard work for you, and tell you when the price of your flight has dropped so you can catch the best deal!
Subscribe to newsletters
If you want to get the best last-minute flight deals it’s a good idea to sign up for airline newsletters, especially if you often fly with certain airlines. Once you’ve subscribed, you’ll get information on last-minute flight sales right to your inbox. Airline flash sales happen fast and usually only last a day or two, or even just a few hours. Be in the know as soon as they happen!
Check social media
Follow airlines on their social media pages! This is a great way to stumble upon your next last-minute flight deal while browsing your friends’ selfies (and sometimes clearly staged impromptu beach yoga sessions or breakfast pictures). This is also a great way to find out about contests and giveaways.
Download our travel app
Our free Mobile App offers lots of features for travellers to find the best last-minute travel deals. Use the ‘Airports Near Me’ search to find alternative airports nearby where you might be able to snag a cheap flight deal. You can also use the ‘Whole Month’ feature on the Skyscanner App, which will scour the sky (and the internet) for you and you can snag that great flight deal at the last minute! As always, there’s no booking fees and hidden charges when you book with us.
3. Pick your destination based on the best time to book
Not sure where your next adventure will take you? We’ve compiled the best times to book a flight from Canada to destinations around the world. This article has all of the information you need on flight deals on domestic routes such as Toronto-Edmonton and popular international destinations and routes like Montreal-Paris. You can decide where to travel next based on when to book the best flight deal.
4. Fly with carry-on only
If possible, travel light. This is good practice in general, but this travel light philosophy can help you save lots of money, especially when it comes to booking last-minute vacations. Travelling with only carry-on luggage is another way to get the best deals on last-minute flights, because you’ll be avoiding any added baggage fees that airlines sometimes have when offering cheap last-minute flight deals.
Not having any luggage to check at the counter can also help you when booking a same-day flight. If you’re trying to hop on a flight that’s almost fully booked, the airlines are most likely to go with a passenger who doesn’t have a lot of baggage on them. So let that carry-on suitcase be your new best friend for your last-minute vacation.
5. Use our Maps feature to find cheap flight deals
It’s always a good idea to shop around when booking a last-minute flight. Compare and contrast your options and browse different airlines to compare prices, and consider some useful features that can help you do so. Check out Skyscanner’s Map Feature to find and compare cheap flights around the world. From the ‘Price’ dropdown menu, use the sliding scale to select your budget and see what cities you can go to within your price range.
The Maps feature not only filters by price, but it also filters through non-stop and 1+ stops routes. If you want to get to where you’re going fast, just look for the green dots (non-stop flights) within your travel budget.
6. Check the same day and standby status
Always booking last-minute flights? How about the very last minute. While it’s risky, making a booking on the same day as your departure might just be the ticket to finding the cheapest flights available. Same goes for standby tickets. It’s important to note that you need to already have a flight ticket in order to get standby status.
The days of intrepid travellers waiting overnight at the airport on standby for an extremely cheap last-minute flight to paradise is a thing of the past. But with a flight ticket, you can sometimes ask for standby status and score a seat upgrade, an earlier (or later) flight and even change your flight to a different airport in your destination city.
7. Don’t travel during peak season
Trying to get an upgrade or standby status if you’re travelling a few days before Christmas might get you a laugh from the airline employee, but hanging around the airport mid-week during the off-season has so much more potential to get an upgrade or save on last-minute flights. In our Best Time to Book Flights from Canada article, we highlight: Surges in price often occur for holidays or days leading up to national celebrations. The most expensive day to travel in 2019 is expected to be December 22* when ticket prices could be as much as 40% more expensive than the average ticket price.
This also goes for travelling during peak times. While weekends throughout the year will most likely be busy whether you’re flying out of Toronto Pearson or Vancouver International, especially if you’re travelling in the middle of the day. As a money-saving alternative for finding cheap flights, try planning your last-minute vacations for late at night or early in the morning. Being open to these less popular travel times can help you save money on your trip.
8. Splurge on a package vacation
Whether all-inclusive vacations are your thing or not, there’s a bigger possibility to score a cheap last-minute deal if you are booking one. Flight tickets are usually sold out and airlines sometimes overbook. But all-inclusive vacation packages have a higher probability of not selling out, so travel agencies are sometimes forced to sell unsold tickets at lower prices.
Check with your local travel agencies, especially during the March Break period, for any unsold package vacations. You might find yourself with a cheap last-minute vacation!
With a bit of flexibility and an open mind, you can find some incredible last-minute travel deals that will take you to the destination of your dreams. Before booking any travel, always research local government guidelines to ensure that it’s open and safe to visit.
Discover where you can go
Making plans to get back out there? Find out whose borders are open with our interactive global map, and sign up to receive email updates when your top destinations reopen for Canadian travellers.
FAQ on booking last-minute flight deals
Be on the lookout for last-minute sales. Some airlines will reduce the cost of tickets at the last minute to fill flights that aren’t fully booked. While this isn’t as common as it once was, there’s still a possibility, and this often happens on the same day of the flight. Keep up with your newsletters, social media pages, and travel sites to check for these deals.
Some airlines will give reduced fees to passengers flying due to an emergency, such as the sudden death of a loved one. Canadian airlines WestJet and Air Canada offer bereavement fares.
If you suddenly need to get to your destination sooner than anticipated, and you already have a ticket booked, try arriving early for your flight (usually within 24 hours) to check if you’re eligible for same-day standby status. If you are, you might be able to get on an earlier flight or even get an upgraded seat on your flight. However, you could be charged for this depending on your ticket type (discounted tickets likely won’t include this benefit). And of course, flying standby depends on ticket availability.