Finding cheap tickets for last minute flights using Google Flights

How do you find tickets for cheap last minute flights?

It would probably surprise you how often I hear the question – “Where do you find cheap last minute flights?”

The truth is: I recently graduated, but my company lets me work remotely, freeing up my time to travel and expand my Instagram portfolio. This means I’m always scouring the internet for awesome deals because I never know where I’ll be the following week. With the recent changes to Google Flights, finding tickets for cheap last minute flights has never been easier!

What’s the cheapest flight you’ve ever booked?

Let me know in the comments! Mine was a $54 round-trip ticket from Texas to San Francisco on one of the major, regular priced airlines. I booked it two days before the flight left. Among the top contenders, I’ve also scored a $39 round-trip ticket from Texas to Ontario, and a $73 round-trip ticket from Texas to Seattle!

I’ve done so much flying, I’ve even picked up the coveted SouthWest companion pass along the way. If that made your jaw drop, follow along and I’ll show you exactly how I did it.

So what’s the secret sauce to finding cheap tickets and last minute flights?

Google. No, really.

Google has developed this amazing tool to help young, tech-savvy millennials fly for cheap and travel the world on a budget. I’ve been using their tool for years.

Here’s how you can find tickets for cheap last minute flights too: 

  1. You’ll first want to head over to Google Flights
  2. Then, enter your Departure city (You can enter as many of these as you’d like! I typically enter Austin, San Antonio, and Houston)
  3. For the Arrival city, you can be as general as you’d like. The input box accepts continents, countries, cities, and towns.
  4. Your travel dates aren’t super important here, just be sure to enter the total days you’d like to travel.

As soon as you arrived on the website, you probably got notified to enable your location. Do it! The program should populate a few upcoming Great Value flights!

If those don’t cut it for you, go ahead and click the big pink search button!

Making the most of the Google Flights Platform

If you did everything right, you should see a column on the left with a few recommendations, dates, and prices. On the right side you’ll see a huge map. This is all interactive. Go ahead – drag, zoom, and find a location on the map that fits your ideal travel destination.

Below you’ll see my results for flights from San Antonio to “Europe” in November.

tickets for cheap last minute flights

This is Google Flight’s bread and butter. These locations are the cheapest destinations closest to your desired destination. All filtered by price. A great example of this feature is when it costs $225 to fly into Colorado Springs from Texas but only costs $49 to fly into Denver.

So you’ve found a cheap flight, but how do find the cheap-est flights?

The flights look good and all, but how do we get more granular?

  • Click into a location, any location will do.
  • In the bottom left corner of your location, you should see a button that says “View Flights”.
  • You should now see a screen that looks like the screenshot below with a bunch of filters.
  • We only care about a couple of them.
Cheap Last Minute Flights

Best Price for airfare by Date:

Most importantly, we’ll want to adjust our dates to be more specific to your travel time. If you click on the Dates box, you should see a price matrix. Now trust me, I know. It’s kind of confusing at first glance. But all you really need to know is that your departure date is on the top, and your arrivals date is on the right. Figure out where they meet and compare the price that day to the prices on other days.

If your travel date is flexible, this could potentially save you hundreds of dollars.

Best Price by Time Frame:

If you click into the Price Graph box, you should see a timeline. This timeline is handy for those who are still trying to plan the best time to travel to their destination. It shows you the most expensive times to go, and the cheapest times to go.

Cheap Last Minute Flights Price Matrix

I usually try to find the cheapest time and then cross-reference with the date chart to see if I can squeeze the airlines dry.

Flying on a budget… Or not: 

I think it’s safe to say – by now, we’ve all had a story to take home from a budget airline. Maybe flying on budget airlines like Spirit or Frontier just isn’t for you? If that’s the case, you can filter those airlines out using the airline filter in the top right-hand corner of your screen. Deselect any airlines you’re trying to avoid, and voi-la!

The best part?

Your settings now save if you run another search. In my case, if I decided maybe I wanted to search for flights to Canada instead of Europe, I wouldn’t need to re-enter all of the settings I entered for the Europe search.

That’s a wrap:

I’m only 21, but I’ve been traveling for a while now. Enough that I even wrote an e-book about some of my best finds.

If you’re curious about other travel hacks, feel free to check my book out here: 37 Travel Hacks that will help save you time and money

If you have any questions, feel free to shoot over an e-mail or send me DM on Instagram.

Picture of Taylor Wise

Taylor Wise

Join my journey as I share photography and travel tips to help you navigate on your next adventure. During the day, I'm growing my web design agency. In my free time, you can find me sharing Camping hacks on Camping Tent Expert. I love getting lost in the wilderness and making memories with the people closest to me.
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