5 Ways to Save on Last-Minute Flights

Simply put, the easiest way to save on your next flight is to plan beforehand. However, unfortunately enough, planning in advance for airfare is not always a possibility. To help you save as much money as possible on your next last-minute flight, follow these five tips below.

1. Take advantage of Flight Maps

Skyscanner and Google Flights have helpful tools that can help you book the cheapest flight. If you know your exact destination, using their maps can help you compare fares at local airports. For example, you may be able to save money by flying to a set location and then rent a vehicle to drive to your final destination.

You can also use the flight maps to choose the cheapest and most economical location if you are heading to a general location, such as a beach. All you have to do is select your local airport, pick your dates, and then check out the most affordable flights on the map given. However, Google Flights is the more attractive one out of the two, since it can offer you nearby attractions, hotels, and restaurants as well.

2. Call the Airline Ahead of Time

Luckily for you, most airlines offer bereavement fares, which can help you out financially if you are booking a last-minute flight for a funeral. To get the bereavement discount, all you have to do is book the flight by calling the airline within seven to 14 days of the funeral. On the phone, offer the relative's name to the airline and present them with the phone number of either the funeral home or relative’s primary care physician.

For example, Alaska Airlines will discount your 10 percent off fares for passengers traveling to a funeral of a close family member. Air Canada and Delta Air Lines also offer special rates for passengers traveling because of a deceased family member.

3. Book Your Flight for Unpopular Times

Consider booking a red-eye flight or a flight that leaves very early in the morning. These types of flights are usually not full which means tickets are generally cheaper than flights that leave midday. For example, a recent search found that a red-eye flight from Washington DC to San Diego was almost $130 less than others flights along the same route.

4. Use Your Credit Card Rewards

For those who are unable to find any discounts, you can still save money on your flight by redeeming any credit card rewards or airline miles you may have saved up. If you are not sure whether it is wise to cash in your rewards or just buy your ticket outright, there is an easy way to calculate the value the value of your rewards. Use this formula:

(Ticket Price - Taxes and Fees) ÷ Rewards Cost

Then multiply the number you get by 100 to find out the value of your rewards.

For example, let’s say you find a flight that costs $250 with $20 worth of taxes and fees or 25,000 miles. The value would equal 0.92 cents per mile. This amount is below the average value of miles and rewards. In this case, think about using cash to buy your ticket,

However, if a ticket for the same flight costs $500 with $20 of taxes and fees or 25,000 miles, the value would be 1.92 cents per mile. This amount is higher than the average value of most rewards programs. In this situation, you should redeem your miles to buy your ticket.

5. Check Out Social Media Pages

Many popular airlines post last-minute deals on their Facebook, Twitter, and other social media accounts. Be sure to follow your favorite airlines on these sites for the most up-to-date information about last minute flights. Many airlines also send out special discounts and deals in their email newsletters. When it comes time to buy your ticket, make sure you sign up for those emails as well.

Of course, it is always best to plan ahead when it comes to airline tickets. However, emergencies do happen and we cannot always plan in advance. To get the best price on last-minutes flights, follow the tips above.

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