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Last minute flights: here’s how to find late travel deals

In the era of budget airlines, are last minute flight deals dead? Not if you know how, when, and where to look. We've pulled together our tried and tested tips on how to bag a last minute bargain. Get ready to be spontaneous!

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Forget everything you think you know about how to find last minute flights

Back in the day, the best way to get last minute flight deals was to rock up at the airport and ask for a standby ticket. Now so many people travel by air, the majority of flights sell out – and in some cases they get overbooked.

The only way you’re going to get on that elusive standby list is if you:

🎫 Miss your own flight

🎫 Have a full price ticket and want to get on an earlier flight

🎫 Have friends working at the airline… and even then, you should be prepared to wait

Play with our Best Time to Book tool

Flight prices go up and down like a yo-yo, and can change from week to week. Every year we do a bit of number-crunching to work out the best time to book flights from every British airport. While it’s not an exact science, our data can be helpful when you’re doing a bit of forward planning.

Play around with the tool and see which destinations tend have the cheapest last-minute flights from your nearest airport. For example it’s 5% cheaper than average to book flights from Edinburgh to Palma during the week of departure, and 25% cheaper than normal to book flights from Manchester to Cancun the week before you’re planning to fly.

Find The Best Time To Book Flights

Keep your eyes open

You’re not the only one looking for cheap last minute flights, but you can get the jump on other spontaneous travellers just by paying attention:

📰 Sign up for airline newsletters. This is the first place where airlines mention last minute sales. Charter airlines sometimes have spare seats to sell and they’ll tell their subscribers first.

Sign up for price alerts. You mark a flight you’re interested in and we’ll email you every time the price goes up or down. If you’re ready to take a gamble and wait it out, the price might drop right at the last minute.

More on how to sign up for Skyscanner’s price alert emails

🐦Follow your favourite airlines on social media. They often shout about sales and promotions on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram so if you spend a lot of time online this is a great way to find a bargain.

🙅 Look for cancellation holidays. Some package holiday companies sell off last minute trips for a huge discount when their customers can no longer travel.

Be flexible

We’re not just talking about anti-social flight times. When it comes to last minute flights, you also need to be flexible about your destination and the airport you’re flying from. It’s a fab way to find yourself in a gorgeous city that you’ve never heard of before.

The easiest way to do this is to set everywhere as your destination. This makes it easy to see the cheapest places at a glance. If you’re prepared to travel to another airport, setting UK as your departure point will give you even more options.

The ‘whole month’ search tool is a great way to see cheap flights at a glance. Instead of choosing a specific date when you search for flights, select ‘whole month’ and choose this month for last minute flights or ‘cheapest month’ for a low-budget trip.

You can also switch to ‘chart’ view to see how flight prices fluctuate throughout the month, and what days of the week are the cheapest to fly on.

Download the Skyscanner app

You can search for and book last-minute flight deals on the go with our app. You can track flight prices and see the heapest days to book too, just like our desktop site: just handierfor booking spontaneous trips with your friends during after-work drinks.

We’re always on the lookout for cheap flight deals:

Browse our curated cheap flights to cities, beach and long-haul destinations in our travel deals of the week

Go further for less with these long-haul flights for less than £300 return

Once you’ve bagged your cheap flight, you can save money on your hotel room too with our Fly, Stay, Save offer


Skyscanner is the world’s travel search engine, helping your money go further on flights, hotels and car hire.