Are last moment flights cheaper?

There are many queries related to cheap flights like are flights cheaper closer to date, how many days in advance should we book tickets, how to find best seats in flight etc.. few are answered very convincingly, few just casually.

Quick answer, flights are not cheaper closer to the date, reasons are mentioned in detail in this post.

In this post, I have attempted to answer using actual data, will keep on adding to this list as and when I am able to get good answers.

Do read all 7 Google Flights Hacks That will get you cheap flights.

Table of Contents

Are flights cheaper closer to date?

Instead of answering it in Yes or No, let me answer it by sighting some examples using Google Flights.

Today is 27 July 2022 and lets do this experiment on Google Flights to Orlando

I selected a flight from Atlanta to Orlando, and the first place where we get to know the airfare is the Calendar.

Are Flights Cheaper Closer To Date?

The Calendar clearly shows the lowest airfare is $144 and this rate is available after one week of the selected date till the month end.

If we scroll past few months, the flight rate is consistently at $132.

We also used inputs from frequent flyers in Quora, and everyone confirmed that they never found last moment bookings to be cheap, except for one case that is explained in the section below.

Hence proved that flights are not cheaper closer to the date.

Why Flights are not cheaper closer to the date even if airlines have unsold seats?

The normal instinct is to put “unsold inventory” on sale and get what every we can before it becomes irrelevant.

This is not the case with airlines. Reason being Airlines business have matured and they now understand that this approach will incentivize passengers to do last moment booking.

Other reasons for not putting unsold seats on sale:

Other reasons for not putting unsold seats on sale:

1. Reality is they do put it on sale but not publicly.

Airlines offload these seats to few of their agents and if you happen to be in touch with them, you stand a chance to get that discounted seat.

More on this in the coming sections.

2. Almost all airlines and few other business dealing with airlines (eg. Courier & logistics) offer standby seats to their employees at very cheap rate.

What it means is they can board a plane (any airline) to any destination provided it has vacant seats.

3. Airlines overbook to some extent based on a statistical number, assuming there will be some cancellations or no show.

If all show up, the airlines incentivize those who are willing to take another flight, freeing up the overbooked flight!

Why airfare increase closer to the date?

This is reality, I myself have experienced it and so have our sample frequent flyers respondents on the Quora poll.

The section above explained why airlines don’t put the vacant seats on sale, this one explains why it actually increase the fare closer to the flight date.

The reason is simple, the urgency. Last moment flyers are mostly business passengers or those who have to take this flight to reach somewhere.

These cases are willing to pay more as much more is at stake.

When are the Flight ticket the cheapest?

Well, you cannot nail it 100% but there are few hacks that will help you get ticket near the cheapest mark.

  • Looking for tickets 2.5-3 months in advance is a good start, don’t go beyond that.
  • Set alerts so that you are notified immediately once the price drop.
  • Research using incognito mode (don’t believe those who don’t agree with this, they themselves may be in the business of selling flight tickets!)

Click the link to read detailed post on When the flight ticket are the cheapest.

How to get cheap flight with last moment booking?

Last moment bookings are always the most costly as airlines do understand that the passenger need to travel urgently.

You can still get the cheapest airfare among the costly flight ticket by using Priceline Express Deals for Flights.

Be prepared for odd hour flights and do not expect any frills!


There is no silver bullet that will get you the cheapest airfare, you need to look into multiple tools and book as you find the ticket fare lower than the normal.

Do read more travel related posts on OCT