New Report: Top 5 Cheapest Airlines for Last-Minute Domestic Flights

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No matter how well you plan for a trip, there may come a time when you have to book airfare at the last minute for one reason or another. 

If you’ve ever needed to buy plane tickets at the last minute, you know that they’re typically sky-high. Earlier this year, I had to buy an 11th-hour plane ticket on a weekend and it was more than $500 one way. Ouch!

The airline industry knows that latecomers usually have more of an incentive to pay top dollar for airfare and the carriers are happy to oblige.

A recent report from Upgraded Points shows the U.S. airlines with the cheapest fares for last-minute flights. 

What Airlines Have the Cheapest Last-Minute Fares?

The study is primarily based on airfare, airline and route data from Google Flights over a two-week period in February 2023. Information on the most popular domestic routes was culled from Official Airline Guide (OAG) data.

The data collection took place from Monday to Thursday, between 9:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. “If a ticket was not available for a particular airline and route during this time frame, no data was entered. The lowest one-way ticket price available for each airline and route combination was recorded,” it says in the study.

These 5 Airlines Have the Cheapest Last-Minute Fares

AirlineAverage Last-Minute Airfare
Spirit Airlines $170.09
Southwest Airlines$233.72
United Airlines$272.80
American Airlines$282.61
Delta Air Lines$369.12

We appreciate airlines that have more affordable last-minute fares. However, here at, we want you to buy your airline tickets in advance whenever possible so that you get the best deal.

Money expert Clark Howard says that many carriers have changed the meaning of last-minute fares this travel season.

“The airlines generally are using a 21-day rule,” he says. “You’ll see this over and over again that someone who buys less than 21 days before departure gets their wallet eaten up, blown apart.”

Citing Google as well as (formerly Scott’s Cheap Flights), Clark says booking flights around 60 days out seems to be a sweet spot for affordable fares. But, if you have to book last minute it is good to know that there are some affordable options out there so you can find cheap flights.


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