How to find last-minute flights for the cheapest possible price

There’s no greater sense of freedom than the rush that comes from booking a last-minute adventure, but sometimes impromptu trips can be very expensive. The methods savvy travellers use to save on flight tickets change constantly, but some tricks work every time. Here are some of the best hacks for booking last-minute flights on the cheap.

Clear your tracks

Those crafty airlines and travel booking sites use cookies to gain information about the flights you’ve been searching for. When you’re constantly checking flight prices online, you’re giving them data about your intentions. The websites will keep this information and raise the prices you’re shown for routes you repeatedly search for, to entice you to book sooner. Sneaky, right? Get one over them by clearing your browsing history and cookies before you book your flight, or use an incognito browser window.

Be flexible

The more open to possibilities you are, the easier it is to find a cheap last-minute flight. Be flexible with destinations, flight times and airports to find the cheapest last-minute flight deal. If you can travel mid-week, you’re at a huge advantage because demand for flights is higher at weekends - meaning airlines can hike their flight prices up. Just fancy an adventure and don’t really care where you go? Use the ‘Anywhere’ button on sites like Webjet or Skyscanner to see what’s cheap from your preferred departure airport.

cheap flights

Don’t be opposed to detours

Make the most of layovers - even if they’re not on the most straightforward flight path. Flights with layovers are often cheaper than direct flights, with the added bonus of giving you the opportunity to explore a new destination on your trip. If you have more than six hours to kill on a layover, you can easily leave the airport and see the local area in most destinations. Singapore Airlines was offering $1 hotels when you stopover in Singapore giving you a great opportunity to visit 19 tourist attractions. Although this offer has ended, with a little research and luck you may find another gem like this one!

Plan ahead

If you want to bag yourself a cheap last-minute flight, it helps to have an understanding of the average flight prices for the route you’re looking at. Keep an eye on the flight prices in the run up to your trip, and keep checking every day to ensure you get the best possible deal.

Some airline websites and comparison sites even let you set up flight alerts, so you’ll get a notification email if the price of a flight you’re watching drops.

Act local - before you get there

If you’re travelling to a country with a lower standard wage than Australia, try searching for flights using the country’s own version of a website, rather than the default site you’re taken to when visiting from your country. For example, use qantas.com/in/en.html rather than qantas.com/au/en.html when looking for flights to India. Some airlines offer different prices depending on the country you (pretend to) search from.

cheap flights

Use everything in your arsenal

There’s more than one place to book a flight, and you’ll get the best deal if you shop around. Get those browser windows open! Don’t just look at the airlines’ websites. You should also check the various comparison sites, like Webjet, Skyscanner and Cheap Flights. Heading to Asia? Don’t rule out the smaller local airlines - you might not get an onboard meal, but you’ll pay less.

Book two one-way tickets

Sometimes, return flights are way less expensive than booking two separate one-way flights. Check the difference before you book - and consider catching your return flight from a different airport than you arrive in. This is a great opportunity for a road trip in your destination. Or, if you’d prefer to stay in the same city for the duration of your trip, check if the city has more than one airport - there are quite a few airports in London and there are straightforward transport links between them, so you can easily fly into one and leave from another.

Be sure to factor in any booking fees, as these can sneakily push the overall price up. Australian airlines like Qantas, Virgin Australia, Jetstar and TigerAir all add between 1-3% of the flight price onto your booking.

Book flights with a credit card

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With these easy travel hacks, you can easily find the best last-minute flight prices and save money on your next trip.