Upgraded Points' latest study analyzed last-minute booking costs for some of the most popular domestic flight routes in the country. The study revealed which airline – across five major airlines: Spirit, United, American, Southwest, and Delta – offers the lowest prices for each trip if scheduled last-minute, as well as the most affordable last-minute trips based on the average one-way ticket cost available.
The Best Airlines to Buy a Last-Minute Tickets
"Last-minute trips are actually pretty common," said Alex Miller, Upgraded Points
founder. "Business obligations, family emergencies, or even that urge for a sudden weekend getaway – there are many reasons you might need to book a trip in a hurry. But unfortunately, most airlines charge a premium for not planning well in advance, so it can really cost you if you're not looking in the right places."
The Average Cost of a Last Minute Ticket on the Most Popular Domestic Flight Routes
Using data sourced from the Official Airline Guide, Upgraded Points identified the 10 most popular domestic flight routes in America. Using Google Flights as the primary source for cost, they then recorded the lowest one-way ticket price available for each airline and route, before calculating average costs. Data was collected in the Spring of 2023 over a period of 10 days, from Monday to Thursday, and between 9:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m.
Study Results – The Cost of a Last-Minute Flight Across Five Major Airlines
Spirit offers the most affordable last-minute flights, with an average price of $170.09 across the 10 routes. Specifically, Spirit Airlines has the most affordable last-minute flights from:
- Denver International Airport to Harry Reid International Airport: $88.10
- Harry Reid International Airport to Los Angeles International Airport: $101.78
- Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport to Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport: $108.88
- Denver International Airport to Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport: $151.14
- Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport to Orlando International Airport: $162.38
- Los Angeles International Airport to O'Hare International Airport: $247.33
Flying Southwest Airlines is the best option for the most affordable last-minute flight from Los Angeles International Airport to Kahului Airport, at $174.50. With an average ticket price of $233.72, Southwest has the second-most affordable last-minute ticket prices overall.
Save the most by flying United Airlines on last-minute flights from Los Angeles International Airport to San Francisco International Airport, at $146.78, and LaGuardia Airport to O'Hare International Airport, at $189.56. In third place, United Airlines costs $272.80 for a last-minute ticket on average.
Fly American Airlines for the most affordable last-minute flights from John F. Kennedy International to Los Angeles International, at $366.60.
The most expensive option to buy a last-minute ticket, from the airlines studied, is Delta Airlines, with an average last-minute ticket price of $369.12
The Most Affordable Airlines to Book for Last-Minute California Trips
The Top 5 Most Affordable Last-Minute Trips
- Harry Reid International Airport to Los Angeles International Airport: Book Spirit Airlines last minute ($101.78).
- Los Angeles International Airport to O'Hare International Airport: Book Spirit Airlines last minute ($247.33).
- Los Angeles International Airport to Kahului Airport: Book Southwest Airlines last minute ($174.50).
- Los Angeles International Airport to San Francisco International Airport: Book United Airlines last minute ($146.78).
- John F. Kennedy International to Los Angeles International: Book American Airlines last minute ($366.60).
- DEN to LAS – $220.10 per trip
- LGA to ORD – $232.71 per trip
- ATL to FLL – $261.94 per trip
- DEN to PHX – $289.90 per trip
- LAX to OGG – $303.65 per trip
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