Are you trying to figure out where you can get the greatest bargain on a plane ticket? You’re not the only one who feels this way. When it comes to finding the best website for booking flights, the choices are almost unlimited these days.
Online travel agencies (OTAs), commonly known as flight booking websites, provide a wide range of options for buying flights. Use a variety of search engines and tools to verify that you’re not overpaying for your next flight rather than relying just on one.
It is vital to keep in mind that Southwest tickets are not available on booking sites/OTAs. Various other airlines have also removed their tickets from some booking platforms; however, the majority of airlines still have their flights up for sale.
Here are the top 12 airline booking websites and the best airline search engines, along with a description of what makes each one special. Always check tickets from many sites before booking a flight since it’s hard to predict which site will give you the greatest deal.
1 – Travelocity
It should be mentioned that Expedia owns Travelocity; therefore, this airline booking site effectively provides you with Expedia pricing results with a different color scheme and organizational choices. Travelocity’s webpage is simplified but doesn’t allow a flexible-date search. Bag costs are exposed on the results page by selecting a drop-down menu for each fare, making it impossible to compare fees across them (you will likely have to scroll a bit).
For each flight, Travelocity assigns a ranking from “Very Good” to “Fair” based on factors such as flight time, aircraft type, and the “quality of facilities” aboard. Some flights on Travelocity include a booking fee, but not all.
As a result of the unambiguous 10-point flight rating, you’re less likely to schedule an unnecessary lengthy stopover or miss out on an excellent itinerary while using Travelocity. It gets our pick for the best airline booking site.
2 – BookingBuddy
Find the greatest flight bargains on BookingBuddy by comparing different ticket sites with just one click. This metasearch engine enables you simply compare prices from other sites (like Priceline) without having to conduct a lot of separate searches. By selecting your preferred flight search engines, BookingBuddy will create a new tab with all of the relevant flight information already entered.
Looking for a flight and hotel? BookingBuddy provides a combo flight and hotel search that may save you some substantial money by combining.
When the price of your flight drops, BookingBuddy will notify you through email.
3 – Expedia
As previously indicated, Expedia is largely comparable to Travelocity; however, pricing did change between the two sites on several of my searches. Travelocity (and a number of other OTAs) will attempt to up-sell you on adding a hotel to your trip, and Expedia is no different. You may save money by doing this, but make sure you shop before you make a reservation.
On the results page is a “Show flexible dates” option so you can check if cheaper flights are available if you move your vacation a day or two. Expedia charges variable booking fees, and they are not usually the same costs that Travelocity charges.
The interstitial step that appears after you choose your fare from the available choices shows you what is and isn’t included in the cost, such as seat selection, cancellations, revisions, and luggage limitations.
Best Feature: Like its sister Travelocity, Expedia essentially double-checks that you understand what type of fare you’re picking before you click “select” again. It’s a nice amount of clarity in today’s complex airfare market.
4 – CheapOair
Similar to Travelocity and Expedia, the flight search engines CheapOair and OneTravel are subsidiaries of Fareportal Inc. CheapOair charges the same booking fee as OneTravel: from $0 to $35 per ticket. It’s worth it to double-check both sites, even if the same corporation owns them.
CheapOair displays certain “Super Saver Fares” for which you don’t find out the airline you’ll be flying until after you purchase, which means you also don’t find out what luggage fees apply until after you book. Savings, on the other hand, could be worthwhile.
Best Feature: CheapOair promotes nonstop fares over itineraries with stops arranged in an easy-to-read chart that’s grouped by the airline.
5 – TripAdvisor Flights
TripAdvisor is renowned for its hotel evaluations, and now customers can apply their ratings to airlines plus search for tickets on TripAdvisor Flights. TripAdvisor didn’t always provide the lowest tickets when we tested this airline booking website, although it did on occasion.
It always, however, provides you the option to expose Expedia, Travelocity, and other airline booking sites’ results, so you can compare straight away with one click. TripAdvisor Flights also provides several useful search choices upfront, including a tick for selecting nonstop flights.
Travelers will be less likely to book with an unrecognized, low-rated airline when using TripAdvisor’s flight search feature, which includes airline FlyScores based on customer reviews.
6 – Skyscanner
With the help of hundreds of other travel service providers, Skyscanner has become known as the best airline search engine. You may pick nonstop flights only directly from the site, and there’s also a helpful “everywhere” option if you don’t have a specific destination in mind and want to see what’s available.
There are filters for airline, alliance, number of stops, and flight timings, so you can see the “best” and “cheapest” options together with the “fastest” and “cheapest” ones in the search results. There are a lot of locations to book a flight when you choose a result. As a result of Skyscanner’s broad search, you may come across low-cost flights from booking sites you’ve never heard of. To help you determine the reliability of these sites, Skyscanner displays user star ratings.
Best Feature: For travelers concerned about the environmental effect of their trip, Skyscanner features a unique “Greener flights” option, which displays only routes with lower-than-average CO2 emissions, depending on your search. The site also recommends specific routes in your results as a “greener choice.”
7 – OneTravel
OneTravel draws its UI from Google Flights’ calendar search tool. The dates field displays a calendar with pricing pre-populated after your departing and destination airports have been entered. If your trip dates are variable, you may use this function to get the best deals right away.
One significant downside is the high service cost of up to $35 per ticket charged by OneTravel. Additionally, at the top of its search results, OneTravel displays different (and, in my view, poorer) itineraries than the majority of competitors. Many highlighted itineraries, upon closer scrutiny, have an additional stop. When comparing flights, it’s critical that you check the flight number to ensure that you’re comparing identical ones.
Best Feature: The calendar arrangement that’s rare to find on other airline booking sites is the most perfect structure if you’re flexible on trip dates.
8 – Travelzoo
Travelzoo is considerably different from the other sites mentioned here. Instead of reserving particular itineraries, you may search for discounts in your target location by month or season over a wider time span (such as this week, next month, this summer, etc.).
Because of this, Travelzoo is a fantastic option for folks who have a general concept of where they want to travel, as well as a certain budget. The negative is that if you do have particular plans in mind, for example, you require a trip to Omaha in March, Travelzoo is not likely to be useful.
Best Feature: Travelzoo’s flexibility requirement can afford some incredible offers you won’t find elsewhere, including inexpensive business-class flights and multi-city itineraries that can make a dream vacation a lot more reasonable than you’d imagine.
9 – Flights on Google
Google Flights is a strong, straightforward metasearch service that comes free of adverts and interruptions. Your departure and arrival airports will be pre-populated with pricing, allowing you to choose days when the costs are lowest (OneTravel uses this tool).
Get notified by email when new prices for your desired travel dates are available by tracking your search results. With the “Price Graph,” which displays a bar graph to show you when the lowest prices are available, you can also check fares across several dates.
Best Feature: Instead of putting in a single location as a destination, you may put in a bigger area such as Europe or South Africa. You’ll then see fares to several cities within that area shown all at once on a map. If you’re planning a trip to Europe in April but aren’t sure where you want to go, this is a great resource.
10 – Kayak
As a game-changer in the mid-2000s, Kayak has been widely emulated and copied since its inception. And it’s still one of the most powerful metasearch tools accessible. You may also use fare notifications to keep tabs on changes in rates.
The UI is busier than Google Flights because of the concentration of advertisements, but still straightforward to use. Like Google, it includes a versatile search tool that enables you to look for excellent deals in an area like Europe or even just type in “anywhere.”
The “Our Advice” box, which appears on many itineraries, helps you know whether you should book your flight now or wait for the price to drop or rise over the following seven days, based on Kayak’s predictions.
Best Feature: Its Hacker Fares promise to piece together separate one-way tickets, possibly saving you money compared to comparable itineraries, and its vast variety of filters, sorting options, and predictive algorithms put a lot of tools at travelers’ disposal.
For your shopping needs, you may use Momondo, a metasearch engine, as Kayak does. One plus: Momondo reveals results from Southwest, including flight timings and other data from the company … but no costs.
I was unable to see the ticket until I followed the link to Southwest Airlines. Still, it’s great to have a reminder that Southwest is an unlisted alternative. Another plus: Momondo looks for tickets from a ton of smaller OTAs, which might lead to a discount that other metasearch engines overlook.
Best Feature: Only on Momondo can you find a mention of Southwest Airlines. Despite the fact that it doesn’t provide the service, it receives points for pointing out a rival that does.
12 – Kiwi.com’s Nomad
Kiwi.com is an OTA like many others; you book directly on the site (like you would on Expedia) rather than being connected to a separate site (as you would on Kayak or Momondo). Its Nomad search engine, on the other hand, allows you to locate inexpensive itineraries for multi-destination excursions.
You input the beginning and finishing point of your travel as well as the places where you want to stay along the route, specifying how many nights you want to spend in each destination. Hit “find routes,” and the site will build up an itinerary that mixes and matches airlines and itineraries for the lowest possible price.
For example, I was offered an itinerary comprising four flights—New York City to Rome to Moscow to Tokyo, and back to New York—for a meager $1,031 round-trip. You may filter your results to pick out itineraries with many layovers or flights that don’t offer checked luggage.
It’s the most user-friendly application I’ve found for planning trips that include many destinations all around the globe.
13 – Airfarewatchdog
Full disclosure, Airfarewatchdog is a sibling site to SmarterTravel, so we are a little prejudiced with this one, but we assure you it is worth your time. When it comes to finding cheap flights, travelers who are open-minded and don’t mind being picky should turn to Airfarewatchdog.
For example, you may use Airfarewatchdog’s “pick an adventure” feature to get the best deals on flights from your hometown to a variety of popular tourist destinations across the world.
Their site offers wonderful travel ideas, and one of the finest features is the fare notifications you can sign up for. If you know you want to go there, but all you want is a low price, sign up for an alert, and you’ll find out as soon as the price falls so you can book it straight away.
One of the best features is the fare alert, which eliminates the need to look for the best deal every day! Let Airfarewatchdog do the job for you as one of our picks for best airline travel sites.
The takeaway? In selecting which of these sites are the finest one’s for you to compare rates with, it’s useful to establish which sites match your trip-booking demands.
Want to know exactly what your bag costs will be upfront? Do you want a simple “flexible dates” option, or are your dates firm? Do you want to view pricing for a variety of locations if your vacation plans aren’t set in stone? The features offered by various online travel agencies vary greatly.
14 – Hotwire
Booking flights on Hotwire uses the same filters as Expedia and the other large OTAs, which is relatively common for major OTAs of this kind.
If you want to search other sites concurrently, however, realize that you’re going to have to deal with a lot of pop-ups, which may make the search experience seem excessively cumbersome. Change-fee-free flights are readily identified, and each trip is labeled with information on the airline’s cleanliness and safety procedures for quick scanning.
Once you’ve decided which place is worth your time based on your itinerary, shop around for the greatest pricing. And don’t forget to look at the airline’s website: There are OTAs that can show the costs connected with a certain ticket, but it’s more difficult to compare the fares of other classes on that same route (such as basic economy vs. economy).
15 – Hopper
A flight booking app, Hopper advertises its ability to estimate costs with 95 percent accuracy up to a year in advance. Input your departure and destination cities, then set your dates using the color-coded calendar (so you can see as you’re picking pricing differences in your date range).
You’ll then see the lowest price, along with advice about whether you should book now or wait for prices to decrease. In the Price Prediction area, you can see when prices are expected to go up or down in the near future.
Other options include the fee-based Price Freeze, which enables you to lock in the price you see for seven days without having to book.
Because this is a smartphone app, you’ll have to do a lot of vertical scrolling to get to everything. Filters are simple but include layover durations and showing or concealing basic tickets (those are lower but have a lot of limitations).
16 – Kiwi.com
You can use Kiwi.com as an OTA if you’re searching for a straightforward round-trip, but where this airline booking service truly shines is in intricate, multi-step itineraries.
When planning multi-country or multi-regional journeys, you may start with a budget and a flexible schedule using this tool, which has filters configured to include planes, buses, and trains (you can uncheck the transportation types you want to avoid). You may also choose not to travel through certain nations.
To get the most out of Kiwi, create a framework with the filters (duration, stops, nations, etc.) and see what it produces. Tickets may be inexpensive, but you may have to sacrifice some convenience in terms of connecting flights and layovers.
Kiwi.com’s Nomad tool takes things a step further: You construct your bucket list of locations, define any time limits, and determine the cheapest method to put together your destinations into a single vacation.
Booking Sites vs. Metasearch Sites
In the end, it’s important to remember that this list can be broken down into two main groups: booking sites (also called OTAs), which you book directly with as a third party, and aggregators, which send you to a booking site to make your payment. if you want to use any frequent flyer programs, you have and get points. The latter is better if you want to.
OTAs and metasearch flight booking sites are two different types of businesses.
There are more steps to flight searches now than there were a few years ago when the mix of services and amenities on all major airlines was pretty much the same across the board. It’s hard to compare cheap flights because many of the features that used to be standard now cost extra. For example, you can no longer bring a carry-on bag on a plane because it’s now an extra charge.
On our list of the best flight booking websites, there are both OTAs and metasearch tools. Every site lets you filter for the most important things, like nonstop flights, specific airports, and the ability to show fares for a wide range of dates. Also, a lot of people now include information on COVID-19 policies and how to clean up after yourself. It’s not possible for one site to be good at everything, but some are better than others at certain searches that are important to families.
A lot of people have asked if Trivago has a flight search that we could add to this list. Because there are no Trivago flight searches at the moment, we’ll check it out and let you know if there are any.
The Best Way To Use a Flight Booking Site
Cast a Huge Net
People who have done research on the best ways to find cheap flights have found the same thing: There is no single site that is consistently better or worse than the rest. Flight booking websites are great places to try if you want to save the last penny on your ticket price. You need to try several out to find the best airline booking engine for you.
And don’t forget to check with each airline. Checking Southwest is very important: OTA or metasearch sites can’t show their prices. Individual airline websites, on the other hand, often have more useful first-screen options than the general airline site.
How it Should Work (But Doesn’t)
No metasearch flight booking site or OTA currently offers an ideal search formula, which we believe would look like this: You first enter the number of bags you want to check and carry on, whether you want assigned seats (especially important for families), whether you want in-flight meals, whether you want extra legroom, and what degree of refundability you require.
The search technology would then offer apples-to-apples fare comparisons: how much you spend for your family’s exact needs. The technology to do so exists, and certain components have already been completed, but no one has yet put all of the pieces together. Let’s hope it’s accomplished by some creative OTA or metasearch system.
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