When you’re looking to book last-minute airfare, you need the best tools to secure the best price.
With a little planning, persistence, and creativity, there are lots of deals to be found that will get you to your desired destination without breaking the bank.
One of the best ways to find inexpensive deals is to use one of several sites that let you compare and contrast deals. All work from the same premise: They search for flights from multiple airlines to help you build an itinerary that saves you money.
The basic features of each are the same. You enter in your desired dates, times, and departure and arrival locations. The search engines look for flights from multiple airlines that match what you’re looking for. You get a handy list of sortable results to find the best deal possible.
Here is a closer look at how to use three of the best sites for last-minute travel.
Expedia has been a go-to site for great airline deals for a long time. It even has a website devoted exclusively to last-minute deals. The site links to the standard flight finder interface, where you can specify the dates and locations for your travel.
There’s also a listing of last-minute airline deals for flights leaving that week or within a few weeks.
Setting up an account is another smart way to go, as Expedia offers coupons and you can earn points to apply to future travel.
Expedia, like each of these sites, offers one-stop travel shopping, allowing you to also book hotel stays, rental cars and, in some cases, cruises or vacation packages. Some sites offer bundled deals on flights, stays and transportation that can save you collectively on your total travel outlay.
The name says it all with Cheapoair. In addition to looking for flights from multiple airlines, it’s got a list of last-minute travel deals on its own site with easy-to-read listings of cities, departure and return dates, and sample fares.
On several of its sites, Cheapoair also lists several great tips for saving on last-minute airfare, including:
Having flexible dates for departure and arrival. Being flexible on your arrival location can get you close to where you want to go, allowing you to venture on with ground transportation
Signing up for airline travel alerts with great last-minute deals and subscriber-only specials
Using travel rewards programs to cash in those points from previous trips
Following airlines on social media, where companies often announce special, last-minute fares
Flying at off hours. Taking a red-eye or an early morning flight can take the sting out of booking last-minute travel
Flying budget airlines where there aren’t as many perks but the prices are cheap
With Kayak, you can access all the great multi-airline flight functionality of its competitors. But in late 2017, Kayak introduced a game-changer: Shake Me Away. With this new feature, available on the Kayak app, you can give your phone a gentle shake with the app open.
Like the Magic 8 Ball, the special feature will reveal to you a special, last-minute getaway for the weekend that’s less than $500 and a flight that’s 6 hours or shorter.
All three sites use powerful search engines to take the hassle out of comparing prices. Happy traveling!