If you’re looking for a holiday that won’t break the bank, what’s the best way to save money?
The world of last-minute flights has changed a great deal since the introduction of low-cost carriers. Previously, you were able to find the best deals by booking last-minute flights from charter airlines as they sold off their spare seats in the days, hours and sometimes minutes before the flight took off. However, today you can also find a host of cheap airline tickets just as easily when booking early with low-cost airlines such as easyJet or Ryanair.
Whether you want to book your holiday in advance or at the last minute, there are plenty of cheap deals out there.
When can late deals work?
The best time to consider searching for last-minute deals is when, at a spur of the moment, you decide to take a break from the everyday stresses of life and book a quick getaway to somewhere fantastic.
The prices for flights with low-cost airlines increase as time goes on. The best time to get the cheapest fares are when the tickets are first released (or in a seat sale, though availability is always restricted in these sales.) With charter airlines, on the contrary, late deals are often available. When a charter airline has sold the majority of its seats and departure date is fast approaching it then decides to sell its spare seats at cheaper prices.
If you have the flexibility of booking last-minute flights, Cheapflights.co.uk has a Staff picks page, which has a fantastic list of the latest deals from its partners. You can also receive up-to-date information on flight offers by signing up to the Cheapflights newsletter. If you're heading to the USA and thinking about looking for last minute flights while you're there, read our guide to the US.
When to book early
When it comes to flag carriers such as British Airways, you needn’t wait until the week before your holiday to get the best deal on cheap flights. In fact, by booking your flight sooner rather than later, you could easily land yourself a top deal and be left with plenty of cash to spend while you’re away.
By booking early, not only can you feel safe in the knowledge that your trip is arranged, you could also make some huge savings. If you’re planning a holiday, especially one that needs to be scheduled for the school holidays, search for cheap flights as early on as possible, as this is a very busy season to travel.
If you’re thinking of travelling in a large group with friends, you could find it a little difficult getting last-minute deals to accommodate all of you at the same time. Alternatively, if there are only two of you, your chances of getting last minute flights together are much greater.
Where and when to go?
Whether you want cheap flights to destinations throughout Europe including Spain, Greece, Portugal or France, or you want to go further afield and book flights to India and Orlando, there are some great last-minute flights to be had.
There are pros and cons when it comes to both booking early and getting late deals. Depending on your travel arrangements and the time of year you plan to take your trip, either can work for you just fine. By booking early, you’ll be safe in the knowledge that your dream trip is all booked up, but waiting until the last minute could leave you with the possibility of finding late deals at a fraction of the price.
Updated May 2013