23

I was watching an episode of Modern Family (episode 12 of season 7, "Express Yourself"), in which Phil and Claire got a sudden offer for a weekend trip with a room to Paris for really cheap.

I have been looking online for a way to find something similar. Leaving my local airport Friday, going to anyplace. I am not finding a way to look for these deals.

I am not specifically looking for this weekend, I am looking for any weekend when we realize, "hey we don't have anything major planned, let's fly to someplace in the US or one the 184 countries and territories US passport holders can go without a visa, buy the package and be on the plane in 24 hours."

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    There must many ‘last minute’ deals websites and apps out there, where have you tried already? – Traveller Dec 11 '19 at 19:38
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    I searched my favorite search engine for last minute flights and was richly rewarded with many options. – Michael Hampton Dec 11 '19 at 23:14
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    You've tagged your question air-travel. Are you only considering air travel or also other modes of transportation? – gerrit Dec 12 '19 at 9:58
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    @JamesJenkins just for those who might live in Europe, the large rail corporations frequently offer weekend trips to attractive urban destinations for as little as 30 € if you're lucky. – henning -- reinstate Monica Dec 12 '19 at 13:31
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    How is this not too broad? What helps a person in Florida fly cheap on low notice may be useless for someone in Washington (either of them), and vice versa. There are potentially dozens of ways to do this, how can someone look at this question and decide which one is the most useful? – Nij Dec 12 '19 at 22:40
10

The most flexible search engine I've used to find flights is Adioso.

You start by selecting your origin airport, then:

  1. Destination, which you can either select from cities, or airports, up to whole regions or continents.
  2. Departure date, which can be specific date or ranges, including entire months, or even anytime.
  3. Trip length to exactly or about some number of days/weeks/months
  4. How many people will travel along.

After that it shows the results and you can watch the prices, until it matches your desired budget.

disclaimer: I'm in no way affiliated with adioso. I just enjoyed using their website some time ago.

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    So far this looks the most like what I was looking for, thanks :) – James Jenkins Dec 12 '19 at 18:12
  • @JamesJenkins Adioso is good. Also look at hipmunk.com – Russell McMahon Dec 14 '19 at 11:00
  • @RussellMcMahon hipmunk requires a specific destination, unlike adioso which is much broader. – James Jenkins Dec 14 '19 at 11:43
  • And Hipmunk seems rather useless outside of the USA. – hmijail Dec 15 '19 at 23:44
30

You don't have to seek out some special place for last minute deals. There are plenty of websites that do this - just search for "last minute deals". Alternatively, you can just go to your favourite airline's website and see where you can go tomorrow within your budget, then go to your favourite hotel chain's website and see what they have for that destination.

Only a couple of months ago, I booked up a 5 day trip to Paris, direct via the airline and hotel websites. I booked it all on Tuesday morning, and on Wednesday morning was sitting on the plane.

On that trip, while I was at the airport, I asked my airline whether it would have been possible to buy my ticket at the airport. The answer was a yes subject to availability, but they would expect you to have some idea of a destination first.

It then occurred to me that I could use the free wifi at the airport to book the ticket. The only danger I can see is what would happen if there was no availability within budget (then you have wasted a trip to the airport), or only Iceland is available and you've only packed swimming trunks.

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    Iceland does have some affordable flights going there but the country itself is not cheap. – 2602 Dec 12 '19 at 16:50
  • It shouldn't need saying, but it depends on your priorities - spontaneous travel or cheap. While they are not mutually exclusive, if you are looking for last minute travel, you might have to compromise on your definition of cheap. Conversely, if cheap is more important, you might find the very cheapest fares are sold out while you are still wondering if there is an even better deal available. – Nick Dec 12 '19 at 18:53
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    @Nick If you want to go somewhere specific last minute then it's usually expensive, but I think the question is asking for cheap trips to anywhere. Surely there are sometimes planes with empty seats on them which the airline would rather sell last minute than leave empty. – user253751 Dec 13 '19 at 10:35
  • Iceland does also have volcanically heated swimming pools. – Brian Drummond Dec 14 '19 at 11:58
12

If you google 'last minute travel deals', you'll find plenty of sites, including lastminute.com, which have deals like this.

I also subscribe to travelzoo, they have a last minute section too (eg for the UK), where I once got a crazy cheap flight from London to Vancouver, Canada with mere days of notice.

  • This seems to default to bundling flight and hotel. Is there a way to get just one? – Acccumulation Dec 12 '19 at 5:45
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    lastminute.com was actually created to sell late holiday deals. – Taladris Dec 13 '19 at 7:06
  • @Acccumulation: Click the "Flights" tab on the home page, just above the search form? – Ilmari Karonen Dec 13 '19 at 14:42
5

I tend to use SkyScanner to search for flights- it will let you choose where you fly from/ to (airport/ city/ country, etc) or you can specify where you want to fly from, and leave the destination empty to search for all flights from that location. I have found some pretty good deals through there- UK to various places in Europe for under £100 return, London to Bangkok for ~£400-£500 return, etc.

Edit

This is the sort of results page I get when searching for flights from London to Anywhere:

SkyScanner Results

If I click on one of those options, it gives me a list of the available flights for that destination (in this case, cities within the country selected):

Selected result options

If I then select a flight (city) for that destination, it gives me a list of flight comparisons for different airlines:

Flights

  • This is the kind of thing I was looking for, the ablity to leave the destination open, but the site is not working as I would expect. It know I am Pittsburgh PA (USA) and when I search for flights this weekend, it returns a lot of results. But there are not prices and I clicked on the first (of lots) country "Algeria" and it just spins, no results are returned. Still spinning as I write this. So the right idea but fails on execution. . – James Jenkins Dec 12 '19 at 16:10
  • Kiwi and Scott's Cheap Flights are both worth checking out as well. – 2602 Dec 12 '19 at 16:53
  • @JamesJenkins I think your issue with that particular search might be because there are no flights from Pittsburgh to Algeria (at least, when I Googled destinations you can fly to from Pittsburgh, there weren't any in Africa...) I'm afraid I don't know a huge amount about flights to/ from the states- but maybe you'd need to look at one of the major international airports for this? Don't know if you can fly from Pittsburgh to any of the major airports? If not, then there wouldn't be the 'connecting flight' routes in the results. – Noble-Surfer Dec 13 '19 at 9:06
  • I just did a search for flights from Pittsburgh to Everywhere, and some way down the results, Egypt was listed (from £1,084 with 1+ stops, i.e. no direct flights). If it's just spinning when you select Algeria, I suspect this flight is not actually possible. The flights that are 'easy' will have prices listed. Ones that are theoretically possible, but I suspect would require several connecting flights, will just have show up with "Get Prices". – Noble-Surfer Dec 13 '19 at 10:50
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    I see what the issue is, it does not return results for "sudden" time frame. The default date when you do a search is about 5 days in the future. If you do like I did, and search on Thursday for a flight on Friday (next day) it does not find anything. – James Jenkins Dec 13 '19 at 11:17
2

There are also Virtual Assistant services that will add a personal touch to this and can help you go through the masses of options out there so you dont have to, just tell them your requirements and your budget and let them do the hard work on your behalf.

AnyHelper and ButlerBobs.com are two of the bigger ones.

Disclosure: I am the founder and owner of ButlerBobs.com

  • Of note my employers block access to ButlerBobs.com, it is the only suggestion in any of these answers here that is blocked. – James Jenkins Dec 12 '19 at 11:03
  • @JamesJenkins Interesting, must be the hosting IP is part of a blocked range I suppose – Matt Douhan Dec 12 '19 at 11:05
  • Thank you for A) including your relationship with the site, and B) listing that one 2nd. (Having not visited either, I presume there's no relationship between them, but... who knows.) – FreeMan Dec 12 '19 at 14:37
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    @FreeMan no relation ship between them I am not in any way involved in the first one – Matt Douhan Dec 12 '19 at 14:41
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    @RomanOdaisky A) usually people have to be told to (i.e. asked about) identify their affiliation with a site they're promoting (otherwise it's considered spam) - I was thanking him for doing so up front. B) I don't care about the relationship (or lack thereof) between the sites and commended him for listing his site 2nd - usually people promoting their own site won't list any competitor at all. This is refreshingly honest and I was noting that I appreciated it. The votes and check mark will, of course, be the primary indicator of answer usefulness as is standard at SE. – FreeMan Dec 12 '19 at 20:52

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