How to find cheap last minute flights

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When it comes to booking cheap flights, generally it doesn’t pay to book either too early or too late. Too early and the airline’s interest lies on wanting to make as much money as possible on the flight. Too late and all the cheap seats will have been sold already!

One way to keep an eye on prices when you’re scouring for the best last minute flight deals is to make use of some sites’ price alerts, which monitor fares and inform you when they change.

When it comes to finding cheap last minute flights in New Zealand, there isn’t a huge range of choices, particularly since the demise of Air New Zealand’s standby seats.

Here are seven rules to follow to ensure you get cheap last minute flights:

1. Be flexible with departure times

How to find cheap last minute flights 5

2. Privatise your search

You might also want to search in private browsing/incognito mode. While there isn’t a general consensus yet on this, third-party sites that use cookies to track your behaviour could potentially show you higher prices based on the assumption that you really, really want that particular flight you keep searching for.

3. Find the best time to book

To avoid getting the shorter end of the stick when seeking out cheap flight deals, one travel site found in its data that the best time to book your short-haul flights on average is 54 days in advance. For international flights, the time lengthens up to 320 days in advance. Although this was found from just one travel site and may not always be the case.

4. Get smart deals at your fingertips

Cheapflights’ Smart Value tool points you to the flight that best balances journey time and cost, so you don’t have to spend hours digging through search results and comparing tons of routes. Smart filters provide personalised results so you can sort through flights based on what you find most important – the price, time of day, airline and more.

Grabaseat – Air New Zealand’s sale site – has lots of last minute fares here and you might get lucky if these align with your travel dates.

Jetstar’s famous Friday Frenzy is a regular sale; at 4pm they release cheap airfares, which are often for last minute travel. You’ll need to be quick with your mouse for these.

5. Sign up to receive live travel updates

Follow airlines (and travel agencies) on social media and sign up to their mailing lists. That way you can be first to jump on a last minute sale. Speed counts for a lot and getting a heads up via Facebook or Twitter can put you ahead of the crowd; the best deals can disappear within minutes…

You could also try your luck by sending a wish to the Air NZ Fairy – she might just grant you the cheap last minute flight you need.

Money savings in a glass jar on world map background, Travel co

6. Discover cheap last minute flights and travel bargains

Use Cheapflights Deal Finder to search for last minute packages and flights over the next couple of months. Meanwhile, Seeya aggregates flight deals, so check the site out for a birds-eye glance at current promotional fares.

7. How to find those hidden deals

Think outside the box. Rock bottom package deals (think flight + car or flight + hotel) can sometimes cost less than a last minute flight ticket. If you don’t want the vehicle or hotel, don’t use them!

Once you think you’ve found the perfect deal and have booked your tickets, check back within 24 hours to see if your flights have gone down in price. If they have, give the airline a call, you might be eligible for a cancellation and a rebook without penalty.

Do some preliminary flight checks. Sometimes round-trip tickets don’t work out cheaper, and sometimes two one-way tickets do.

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How to find cheap last minute flights was last modified: January 30th, 2017 by Esther Goh
Author: Esther Goh (56 posts)

Writer and digital specialist hooked on travel and food. Calls Auckland home but desperately misses Mexican and Italian cuisine. Esther blogs at NZ Muse.