If you’re a regular traveller or maybe this is your first time, you want the best fares, and rightly so. The truth is, there are almost limitless options when it comes to choosing the best flight booking sites available out there.
While you can book directly with your airline, there are tons of online travel agencies (OTAs) and metasearch sites to choose from. But here is the thing, not a single one of these flight search sites can guarantee the best fares 100 per cent of the time. So you’ll have to use a mix of the right resources to help ensure you’re not overpaying.
The Best Flight Sites for booking cheap flights
We’ll be giving you a quick rundown of the best flight search sites for booking cheap airfare in less than a minute.
But first, one important thing to remember about booking sites/OTAs is that not all airline fares are available on these sites. For example, southwest fares are not sold on them.
Despite the many options, there are some OTA and metasearch sites that we’ll recommend because they have the best tools and usually find the best prices. Here, we’ll analyze the most popular flight search sites and OTAs and give you our opinion on each one, as well as some tips on when to use it based on your flight search needs.
Let’s get to it.
Momondo is a flight search engine that draws data from many OTAs, including the not-so-popular ones that occasionally offer the best fares. Hey! Notice we said occasionally. Which means you don’t always find the best flight fares. You can’t book directly through the site, however, are redirected to an OTA or airline.
So here is the plus. Because Momondo creaks several smaller OTAs as well as the larger ones, chances are you’ll find better deals compared to what is available on other major OTAs like Expedia or Google flights.
But there is a slight hiccup. Momondo is a bit slow. It often takes more than 40 seconds to display the fares and this is because the site searches hundreds of OTAs at the same time. Also, Monmondo lacks other search features. While you’ll find it helpful checking for the cheap flights between specific dates and cities on specific dates, it doesn’t allow multiple searches for multiple dates.
Tip: start your search for cheap flights on Google Flights or Skyscanner and then double-check prices on Momondo.
Skyscanner is a UK-based flight search site. If you’re not following a strict travel plan, then you can look up Skyscraper. When searching for flights with Skyscraper, you can choose an origin as broad as an entire country, and your destination can be everywhere. That’s a rare superpower. The site redirects users to book through the airline or an OTA.
Here is the benefit of using Skyscraper for flight search. The Everywhere tool makes it easy to find the best flight deals over a range of dates if you’re adaptable to the destination. Skyscraper also has a multi-city search feature that allows you to find the best deals for a given area.
One of Skyscraper’s shortcomings is that it sometimes misses the lowest fares because it doesn’t search the lesser-known OTAs. Sometimes price ghosts, too. So you might find a low price on the site’s result page, but when you go to book, that price is no longer available. Also, the monthly calendar is not updated live but is based on user searches. So while it shows accurate values for dates on popular routes, it may not show up-to-date information about itineraries with fewer searches.
3. Google Flights
One thing you’ll love about Google Flight is that it is user-friendly and offers plenty of features to aid your search. If you have plans to visit different places, Google flight is a great tool to explore flight options for a destination span.
Google flight outclasses other flight search engines for many reasons. With features like a map, Google flight makes finding cheap flights seamless. You can explore prices from your local airport to just about anywhere. And then there is a low-price calendar that helps you find the cheapest flight across multiple dates. That’s not all. Google flights’ multi-city search feature allows you to check for the best flight prices between 7 origin airports and 7 destination airports in parallel.
The main issue with Google Flights is it sometimes misses the cheapest fares. It grabs its data from the airlines and major OTAs. You will also notice absences like Southwest, Aeromexico, and Hong Kong Airlines as they do not show up on the site.
Skiplagged helps travellers find hidden city fares. That is when travellers book return flights that go beyond a point beyond their final destination and straddle the fence on the last flight to stay in the layover city. These fares are often cheaper compared to booking direct flights between origin and destination. You won’t find hidden fares on other flight search engines or OTAs.
You’ll find Skiplagged very useful if your destination is a hub airport that is a common layover point. Their fares can sometimes be way cheaper.
Although technically legal, there are some drawbacks to booking hidden fees. Firstly, you can’t check a bag as it will end up in the final city on the itinerary, not the layover city.
Also, once you skip a leg, all successive flights on your itinerary will be cancelled, so you will have to book two one-way trips or skip only the last leg of your trip.
Priceline allows you to book directly through the site. Travellers can find most of what they need using Priceline, like cheap flights, cruises, cars, hotels, and vacation packages.
One good thing about using Priceline is that it clearly shows the pricing and cancellation information and offers the best price guarantee. So let’s say after booking on Priceline, you find a better price elsewhere, you can ask for the difference. Another pls is using its Express deals which offer you some discounts when booking without knowing all the details like the exact flight time and airline. Priceline cancellation policy allows you to randomly cancel or change your flight for free until the end of the next business day.
Now here are some of Priceline’s limitations. It is impossible to search multiple cities. If you prefer to book directly with airlines, unpleasant news, Priceline doesn’t allow that.
6. Orbitz, Expedia, and Travelocity
We have mentioned Orbitz, Expedia, and Travelocity together because they are all OTAs owned by the same parent company (Expedia Group). Being part of the same group, they have similar features and return the same results. These three flight search sites offer deals packaged for airlines, car rentals, hotels, and vacations that can be booked directly on their sites.
Here is why we recommend any of these three. They make it easy to combine flights, hotels, and car rentals in one booking- a one-stop-shop for vacation. You can earn points and save on Orbitz and Expedia.
But a drawback peculiar to all three OTAs is they are not as robust as other flight search sites we have mentioned here. You can’t search multiple cities and dates, making it difficult to sometimes find the cheapest flights. But if convenience is top of your list, you might find them a good option.
Kayak like Expedia, Orbitz, and Travelocity- is not just a flight search site because it can be used to search for a hotel, cruise, and car rental service. This is a go-to site if you’re looking to book several parts of your trip on one site. You can search for cheap flights and hotel packages for awesome bundled deals. Bookings are done through third-party sites—either via the airlines or on an OTA.
Kayak scrapes a vast majority of OTAs, so chances are you will find cheap flights from smaller agencies. And you can easily plan your whole trip using the site booking flights, hotels, and car rentals via the same site. Its explore options help you pick destinations based on price, trip duration, or event theme. Additionally, Kayak Allows you to set fare alerts.
Now let’s talk about the cons. Kayak is a slow search engine and can frustrate users. It also doesn’t have the sleekest interface. You might also find the advertisements annoying. True Kayak searches many OTAs but can sometimes skip a few, so you might find cheaper flights through other search engines such as Momondo.
8. Booking Buddy
The BookingBuddy service quickly compares the top travel sites to help make your travel and reservation decisions easier. You can book cheap flights as well as accommodation in a bundle to enjoy a discount.
Some plus using BookingBuddy include its ability to save time for travellers. Their technology allows users to cut down the flight search and planning time while simultaneously cutting costs. Again the site is quite comprehensive and easy to use. Users can simultaneously compare fares for several travel sites at the same time. They also have the best price guarantee on all reservations. Although there are stipulations within the policy, travellers are guaranteed the best price at different rates. If after booking you find a cheaper flight elsewhere, you’ll receive a refund to make up for the difference.
Yeah, you guessed right. There are some drawbacks to using BookingBuddy. There are a few features not available on the websites. While these tools may not be necessary to book hotels they are useful when planning your trip. Because BookingBuddy works through third parties, the cancellation policy is rather complex. On top of that, you can’t purchase travel insurance/protection through the site directly. So if ever you can’t make the trip and you fail to change or cancel reservations, you could be out of hundreds of dollars,
OneTravel obtains its interface from the Google Flight Calendar search feature. On entering the departure and destination airports, the date field displays a calendar with preloaded prices. This is a valuable feature for you to pick travel dates with the best prices, as long as your dates are flexible.
The calendar organization, which is difficult to find on other flight booking sites, is ideal if you are flexible on travel dates. The company also offers last-minute deals and discount codes. It charges booking and cancellation fees. Plus, you get to amass reward points for each dollar spent on the site.
One big downside with OneTravel is they charge a hefty service fee of up to $ 35 per ticket. The company also charges cancellation and exchange fees. Sometimes too, OneTravel offers different itineraries at the top of their results page. Many selected itineraries, after careful examination, include an additional stop.
Hotwire is a popular OTA and has been around for nearly 20 years. If you need a hotel in addition to your flight, booking both through Hotwire can save you hundreds of dollars.
Its easy-to-use home page offers the main search box for entering the departure and destination cities in addition to the desired travel dates. You might come across Hotwire’s Hot Rate flight feature. These are flights that Hotwire keeps secret until you book them. You might find cheap flights with a price difference of about $20 or sometimes no savings at all. There is also a low price guarantee.
The search results page only shows outgoing flights. So you need to click through each one individually to see return flight options- this can be time-consuming. Again there is no refund for all ticket purchases through Hotwire. If there is ever a need for cancellation, it can only be done through the hotel, car rental company, or airline.
Travelzoo has become a popular venue for the best deals. The site’s search potentials are magnificent. The good thing is you can use multiple search engines to track down cheap flights.
Travelzoo is very different from the other flight sites listed here. It offers you the liberty to search for offers in your desired destination by month or season. Travelzoo is a decent option for people with a budget and time frame but no clear idea of when or where they want to go. Another score for Travelzoo is their flexibility requirement- which can afford some great deals like cheap business-class flights and multi-city itineraries. That can make your dream trip much more affordable than you think.
The downside is that if you don’t have the luxury of being flexible, for example, you need a flight to NY in June, Travelzoo may not be what you need.
Final take. The flight search sites and OTAs we’ve listed above have their pros and cons. It’s a smart move to determine which flight site fulfils your booking needs. Want to see your luggage fees ahead of time? Do you want flexible dates feature, or do you have fixed dates? If your travel plans are imprecise, do you want to see multiple destination prices? Every flight booking site has its capabilities. Once you have determined which site is worth your trip, compare the prices with others to make sure you have the best deal.