Having booked hundreds of flights for myself I can say from experience that there is no one best site to find the cheapest airfares. There are so many variables in airfare pricing that there’s always going to be price discrepancies between the flight search engines.
When booking a flight it’s best to know what tools are available for search and compare for yourself.
I have compiled the best fare finders available for booking flights, as well as other tips and resources to find cheap flights.
Round The World
Deal Alert Newsletters
The flight booking space is a competitive space, and so far no site has emerged as the Google of airfare bookers. Perhaps one day there will be an ultimate booking engine that will be the go-to site for booking airfares, just as google is the go-to search engine for most people. It might even be Google with Google Flights.
For now there isn’t a clear “best flight booking site” so I still use multiple sites when looking for flights. These are my preferred sites:
Skyscanner is the first site I use when booking flights. After checking the other flight comparison sights the top ones usually produce the same results so I can’t say it is the best booking site. For me I prefer the search functions and layout of Skyscanner.
Kayak is another booking site I use often. My favourite feature is Explore, which lets you choose a departure city and general date (month or time of year) and it will list the cheapest flights on a map. It’s a great way to discover potential new destinations. Read more about Kayak features here.
Momondo is an international booking site based in Denmark that search the airlines directly as well as online booking sites.
Vayama specialise in international airfares and they are great for difficult international airline bookings.
Hipmunk is another great flight comparison site option. You can open new searches on a new tab, like a spread sheet. This saves you having to open up multiple tabs in your browser if you are doing multiple bookings. They also rank flights according to time, pain (how many layovers and time between each), and price.
Adioso is spontaneous airfare finder that shows you the best flights to anywhere in a single search. Search for destinations with as much flexibility as you want, such as “London next Friday Night” or “Melbourne on July 22 Morning”. My favourite search is to enter my current destination “to Anywhere” and see what happens.
Drungli is a search engine of European low cost airlines, listing the cheapest random destinations available at any given moment. Enter your departure city and your date of travel, and Drungli will find the cheapest flights out of that airport on the given date. You can also select a month search if you are more flexible, giving you more options of cheap flights. The site plans to expand to more regions in the future.
Round The World Airfares
Online travel agents struggle when it comes to booking round the world tickets, so quotes from traditional travel agents are still a competitive way of booking RTW flights.
BootsnAll is the best Round The World airfare booker I have used in test bookings. It’s a real booking site that returns real quotes, as opposed to some RTW booking sites that send you a quote via email.
Flightfox is a crowd sourced travel agent where you start a competition and flight experts will compete to find the lowest airfare. The winner receives part of your booking fee thus they have an incentive to find the cheapest flight. Flightfox is best when searching for non-direct flights that require human thought into routing, such as considering alternative airports and low cost airlines. It is also helpful for those with unusual luggage or travel needs.
I subscribe to the low cost airlines of where I am based. For example I’m currently based in Vietnam so I subscribe to the low cost airline newsletters here (Vietjet, Airasia, Jetstar, Tigerair).
By doing this I have picked up deals like Kl to Delhi for $20usd, Melbourne to KL for 90USD and Manila to Hong Kong for $20USD. These were booked out of opportunity rather than me planning to go there.
If you are a student of under 26 you may qualify for special offers at STA Travel. They have a section of discounted flights so compare those offers with what is on offer on the main fare finders.
Deal Alert Newsletters
If you’re on the lookout for a bargain flight or inspiration to somewhere new
Airfarewatchdog is useful for fares originating in the US. The site tracks airfare deals which may not appear in the fare finder sites. You can set alerts for your home airport.
Travelzoo also offer deals which are worth checking if you are looking for a cheap package holiday. These sort of sites are best for inspiration rather than specifically looking for set airfares.
Holiday Pirates feature deals from Europe.
If you always fly from the same airport look for blogs that blog only about deals from that airport. For example YYZ Deals blogs about cheap flights from Toronto. Search for “XXX (your airport) flight deals”, “XXX blog”, or variations.
Skiplagged finds airfares that airlines don’t want you to know about. For example sometimes it is cheaper to fly to another destination than it is to fly to the hub you go through. The idea is you book the further flight and get off at the hub. The airlines say this is illegal and United tried to sue them.