Summer is right around the corner and as things around the world continue getting back to normal, people are looking forward to booking their summer getaways now more than ever before. With gas prices skyrocketing and the price of flights increasing every day, comparing prices on the best booking sites for flights can help travelers find the best deal for a budget friendly holiday in the sun.
Here’s our Top Picks for The Best Booking Sites for Flights
- Google Flights (Best Overall) | Review
- SkyScanner | Review
- Momondo | Review
- Hopper | Review
- Kayak | Review
- Priceline (Best for US Domestic Flights) | Review
- Skiplagged | Review
- Kiwi (Best Budget Friendly Search Engine) | Review
- Travelzoo (Best for Vacation Packages) | Review
- Expedia (Best Customer Service) | Review
- CheapoAir | Review
- TripAdvisor | Review
Google Flights (Best Overall)
As one of the most popular metasearch travel sites, Google Flights provides users with a wide range of options when it comes to finding the best deal around. This online flight search tool allows users to search for up to seven departure and destination airports at a single time, allowing users to find the best deal not only at their desired airports, but also at nearby airports.
Pros and Cons of Google Flights
- Google Flights is a metasearch engine that can easily sift through thousands of results across a variety of platforms to bring users the ultimate low price on airline tickets and other travel accommodations
- Customizable search options allow users to generate multiple sample travel itineraries and receive email alerts when flight prices drop for their desired destination
- As a metasearch engine, flights are not booked directly through Google, so users who need to change their itinerary or receive a refund must do so through the individual vendor
- Google sometimes recommend OTA that does not serve or has minimum support for your country of residence. Be sure to check before finalizing your booking. With minimum support, a problem along the way can be complicated to solve.
Check Google Flights
SkyScanner is a convenient mobile application and website that allows users to search for hundreds of flights from all over the world at the push of a button. Their simple and easy to use search tool provides results from thousands of airlines and online travel agents and will even suggest the best deals based on the latest fares from the user’s current location for an exciting twist on travel booking.
For more adventurous travelers, their Everywhere Search option allows users to put in a starting destination and search for flights to anywhere in the world with results displayed from lowest to highest in price. In addition to comparing flight prices, SkyScanner also allows users to search for hotel rooms and car rentals from some of the top companies so that all your travel plans can easily be taken care of at once.
Pros and Cons of SkyScanner
- SkyScanner offers flexible search features that allow travelers to search for flights anywhere in the world with their Everywhere Search option
- Comprehensive flight searches display results from hundreds of airlines and travel agencies within seconds
- SkyScanner prices may not always be the lowest fares available, and people booking flights are encouraged to check price comparisons from competitor services prior to booking
- Some users have reported that although SkyScanner offers bottom of the barrel pricing on flights, some of their recommended travel partners are mostly unknown and users often feel more comfortable booking with more reputable companies and airlines
This metasearch engine site allows users to search for flights from hundreds of airlines and travel sites from across the world. Their easy to use online search tool displays price trends for certain destinations in a visually appealing graph so users can easily determine the cheapest prices for flights to their desired location.
In addition to displaying the lowest prices first, fares are also filtered based on the most convenient travel itinerary. For users looking for the ultimate travel deal, Momondo also offers combination fares, known as “hacker fares,” that combine two or more one way flights from different providers to give users an even larger discount on airfare.
Pros and Cons of Momondo
- This search engine displays flight prices in an easy to use format so that users can determine the best dates for travel on or around their desired dates
- Momondo is a one stop shop for all travel related bookings including flights, hotels, and car rentals
- When selecting “hacker fares,” users are often required to make two separate reservations as mix and match deals are often created by combining one way flights from multiple airline companies
- Search results often link to third party booking sites and travelers have to finalize bookings with these companies, rather than through the Momondo site
Hopper is a useful mobile application that can be downloaded for both iPhone and Android users. The simple and easy to use app allows users to plug in their desired travel dates and available options will appear on a color coded calendar. Which displays the cheapest travel dates for that destination throughout the entire month. When booking flights far enough in advance, users can set parameters within the app that will then send pop up alerts when prices drop and the cheapest tickets are available to their preferred destination.
Pros and Cons of Hopper
- The mobile application is simple and easy to use with easy to understand design features and displays
- Users can set price alerts through the application that send notifications when flight prices for their desired destination have dropped
- The Hopper app has a fun and easy to use design
- Hopper is available only as a mobile application and cannot be accessed via a desktop
- Deals alerts only last for a limited amount of time and may often be sold out by the time users log in to access special pricing
This travel search engine allows users to compare flight prices from not only individual airlines, but from a multitude of other travel company sites as well. When searching for flights, Kayak offers users some of the lowest prices around and is even programmed to alert users when another site offers a lower price for the same flight.
When it’s time to book the flight, the site will lead users to the main site with the cheapest booking to complete their purchase. This site may either be an airline website or another online travel agency or third party site. In addition to flights, Kayak offers hotel booking, car rental, transportation options, vacation packages, and more.
Pros and Cons of Kayak
- Travelers can save big bucks when booking flights through Kayak when selecting their “hacker fare” pricing options
- Kayak offers email notifications when prices for desired flights decrease so that travelers can get the best deal on their airline tickets
- Travelers using this online search engine should be aware that Kayak often displays results from sponsored companies first in the results and it may be necessary to filter search options to get the lowest price on flights
- Search results often link to third party booking sites and travelers have to finalize bookings with these companies rather than through the Kayak site
Priceline (Best for US Domestic Flights)
For more than 25 years, this travel booking moguel has been a top competitor when it comes to finding the lowest prices on travel. In addition to everyday low prices, Priceline often offers extended discounts and special offers as well as a variety of pricing options like their “Name Your Own Price” tool that allows travelers to set their own price and parameters for booking. Loyal customers can sign up for their Priceline Rewards Visa credit card for even more savings on flights, hotels, cars, and more.
Pros and Cons of Priceline
- Optional features like Priceline’s Express Deals and Name Your Own Price Tool offer users steep discounts on flight and hotel bookings
- Priceline offers a generous reward program to Priceline Rewards Visa credit card holders
- This travel booking site offers convenient price matching as part of their commitment to their Best Price Guarantee
- While Priceline offers booking directly through their website, most reservations are non-refundable with Priceline and travelers will have to contact the airline or hotel company for any reservation refunds
For travelers willing to take a risk, Skiplagged can be a great option for getting bottom of the barrel pricing on flights, although the option is technically frowned upon by airlines. For those who are not familiar, the way skiplagging works is that a traveler books a flight with one or more stops on the itinerary with one of the stopovers being the traveler’s true destination. Although this can be accomplished through performing multiple searches separately, Skiplagged does all the work for you to find the cheapest deals easily.
Pros and Cons of Skiplagged
- Flights booked through Skiplagged are typically heavily discounted due to their unique travel model
- Skiplagged takes the guesswork out of booking hidden city tickets so that travelers are less likely to encounter problems along the way like missed connections, lost luggage, and more
- Skiplagging is often frowned upon by airlines and passengers participating in hidden city ticketing may encounter repercussions from some major airlines
- Booking flights via this route may often require more than one layover and travelers should be aware that checked luggage will likely be sent to the final destination listed on the flight’s itinerary and not where the passenger will be disembarking
Kiwi (Best Budget-Friendly Search Engine)
This online travel agent site allows users the freedom to create intricate, multi-step itineraries easily through their website. While Kiwi can be used to simply search for flights, users can take advantage of their combination itinerary planners that include flights as well as ground transportation options through multiple cities and countries designed to work for any budget. Their Nomad traveler option allows users to create a curated list of destinations to find the most affordable way to travel through multiple regions.
Pros and Cons of Kiwi
- With their Nomad traveler options, budget conscious travelers can often find amazing deals on bucket list destinations
- Travelers booking an extended vacation are able to make travel arrangements for flights, hotels, and transportation all through the Kiwi platform
- Because Kiwi allows users to book combination flights offered by competitor airlines, travelers purchasing these “hacker fare” tickets will often have multiple layovers and gate changes along the course of their trip
Travelzoo (Best for Vacation Packages)
This online travel agent is a great place to start for travelers looking to escape the daily grind with a relaxing vacation. Although their flight itineraries and prices are not always the least expensive, Travelzoo often offers travel deals and packages at deep discounts. While these packages are typically only for specific, predetermined destinations, vacationers who are not picky about their final destination may be surprised to find something new and different on this site.
Pros and Cons of Travelzoo
- Travelzoo special deals often feature more off the beaten path destinations and adventurous travelers may be surprised by visiting new and exciting destinations
- As one of the most trusted online travel agents, users can have peace of mind knowing they are getting competitive pricing on a variety of travel experiences
- The deeply discounted airlines tickets offered on Travelzoo are often economy price or budget level tickets and travelers may end up spending more money on checked luggage and other airline amenities than they would if booking higher class tickets
Expedia (Best Customer Service)
Since the 1990s, travelers have trusted this online travel agent site to find the best deals on flights and vacations to destinations all across the world. Expedia users can often find heavily discounted travel deals with monthly sales, bundle packages, and last minute deals on flights. Expedia partners with a financial technology firm called Affirm to offer travelers convenient payment plans with low monthly installments to make travel a breeze for any budget.
Pros and Cons of Expedia
- With their Affirm partnership, Expedia is able to offer flexible monthly payment options for travelers
- Customer Service representatives at Expedia are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week through multiple channels including online chats, email, and phone service to assist customers with questions and concern regarding their upcoming travel
- Users are able to utilize Expedia’s price comparison feature to instantly compare prices to those listed on company websites
- The Expedia website is heavily saturated with advertisements that often make the site lag and make searching for travel deals an overwhelming task for some users
- Competitor sites may often have lower prices than those found when using Expedia, making it a great tool for estimating prices to a certain destination or finding price comparisons
CheapOAir is an online travel agent specializing in travel deals for not only flights, but also hotels, rental cars, and cruises. When searching for flights, this website displays comprehensive results that include cheapest flights, shortest duration, a low fare calendar, and more. Users can personalize their search by choosing alternate dates or airports, using the CheapOAir low fare calendar, and utilizing the website’s Price Match Promise to find the cheapest airline tickets.
Pros and Cons of CheapOAir
- CheapOAir offers a Price Match Promise that allows travelers to price match or receive a refund for the difference if finding a lower price for the same flight on another site within 24 hours of booking
- This site’s convenient low fare calendar allows users to easily view costs for flights during different days of the month so that passengers with flexible schedules can book the lowest fares
- When booking flights, customers have a choice of selecting an optional travel insurance plan offered through the company
- CheapOAir has a reputation for less than ideal customer service and charges multiple fees for bookings, cancellations, and/or reservation alterations
- Because this site is an online travel agent and not a metasearch engine, it does not perform searches across every airline or travel booking site
This metasearch engine is one of the best resources for travelers looking to build their ideal travel itinerary for some of the top destinations around the world. One of the most useful features of TripAdvisor is the amount of real life travel reviews posted on the site. Travelers from all across the world flock to this site’s webpage to share their experience with travel destinations, airlines, otels, and more so that future travelers can have realistic expectations on which places are a must see and which to avoid.
Pros and Cons of TripAdvisor
- TripAdvisor has a unique design that not only allows users to receive public information regarding flight itineraries and pricing, hotel availability, and car rental service but also detailed description and first hand accounts of travelers experiences all across the world to give travelers all the information they need to make informed decisions regarding their trip
- While TripAdvisor is a popular resource for learning more about activities and special events in certain destinations, it may not always be the most reliable when it comes to booking cheap flights
- Although this search engine has been around for many years, the ability to book travel through their platform is relatively new, making it a fairly basic system that may not always provide users with the best deals
The Difference Between Metasearch Engines and OTAs
It’s important for travelers to know the difference between a metasearch engine and an online travel agent, or OTA. While both of these search options offer users details and information on flights and travel, the main difference is that metasearch engines display a more comprehensive list of results, but can only be utilized for comparing prices, not booking actual flights.
When using a metasearch engine, users who have found the best flight or hotel deal for their budget can select the option via the search engine, but will then be directed to either the airline or company website or a third party travel booking site like an OTA to finalize their booking. Metasearch engines can be a valuable tool for users to find and compare the best prices as they search across multiple platforms, but online travel agents do all the leg work when it comes to actually booking a vacation.
A Word About Booking Directly Through the Airline
Although it may seem old fashioned to some, booking directly through the airline is still one of the best ways for travelers to take advantage of certain benefits like loyalty programs, special discounts, and more. In addition to saving money on travel, most major airlines provide a higher standard of customer services for clients booking flights directly through the airline versus through a third party booking site. Benefits of direct booking:
Airline Loyalty Programs
The goal of most major airlines is to make their customers happy. One way airlines strive to keep repeat customers happy is through offering generous loyalty programs. Through these programs, customers set up a free account with a certain airline that collects miles (i.e. points) each time the customer flies with that airline.
While these points may sometimes be available to customers when booking through third party websites, this perk is generally reserved for customers who book flights directly through the airline’s website.
Customer Service for Delayed or Canceled Flights
When booking directly through the airline, customers tend to have an advantage in the face of a cancellation or flight delay as most major airlines want to keep customers happy so that they will continue to make future bookings with the airline. For customers that have to cancel or delay their travel plans for unforeseen circumstances, airlines will often offer refunds, flight vouchers, and more to keep customers.
Pro Tips on Finding the Best Flight Deals
Although utilizing some of the top flight search engines is a great way to save money on flights, travelers can save even more by using these simple tips and tricks to save big bucks.
Apply for Airline and Travel Agency Credit Cards
Almost all major airlines and online travel agencies offer credit cards that can earn customers hefty rewards when it comes to travel. Avid travelers looking to save big bucks so consider applying for a line of credit from airlines like American Airlines and Delta or online travel companies like Priceline or Expedia to enjoy perks like discounted tickets, complimentary upgrades, free airfare, and more.
For first time applicants, most credit cards offer free airline miles that are equivalent to the price of a roundtrip flight within the continental United States after spending a certain amount of money in the first three months after the card is issued. After the initial bonus, users can continue to earn airline miles on everyday purchases like groceries, gas, and more.
Skip the Travel Insurance
Although purchasing travel insurance can make some travelers feel at ease, the majority of travel insurance providers make it nearly impossible to file a claim in the event that a trip must be canceled or postponed. With the cost for most travel insurance plans being between 5-6% of the total ticket price, travelers can generally skip over purchasing travel insurance and put their money towards other things. For travelers concerned about running the risk of illness in another country, purchasing short or long term international health insurance is a much better option for avid travelers looking to gain some peace of mind.
Don’t Be Afraid to Book!
While we certainly understand that it may be tempting to keep waiting for the absolute lowest price on airline flights, waiting too long to book may actually do more harm than good when it comes to booking travel. One of the biggest misconceptions about booking travel is that prices are lowest on Tuesday mornings, but this myth has largely been debunked.
Although prices for flights fluctuate daily, flight deals and discounts are available seven days a week and travelers who find a good deal shouldn’t wait to book as the price will likely increase the longer you wait. Travelers are encouraged to book flights in their price range once ticket prices drop below average gas prices fluctuate often and tend to change quickly. If a price seems too good to be true, book immediately!
By utilizing many of the online search engine features like price alerts, low fare calendars, and more travelers can rest assured they are always getting a fair deal on their fare.
With so many options for booking online travel, it’s easy to get overwhelmed when trying to find the best deal on flights. For travelers who are ready and willing to put in a little effort when it comes to booking their own vacation, these top travel sites can offer some of the steepest discounts around for vacationers looking to book a memorable once in a lifetime getaway.