This is the time of year when my friends and family start to ask me “What’s the best website to book a cheap flight?”. With 2015 finally upon us, everyone is getting excited about using that new batch of vacation days they got when the clock struck midnight.
Booking a cheap flight and the best flight are not always the same thing. Sometimes you have to spend a little more to have a better experience but ultimately the decision is yours. We’re here to show you the best tools available online, no matter what your goal is when booking a flight.
If you still use Expedia to search for flights we have some important news for you. Stop. Stop it right now. Delete it from your bookmarks. Done? Okay, good.
Whether you want someone to do all the work for you (FlightFox) or wanted a detailed analysis of your trip (Momondo) we’ve got options for everyone. We actually highly recommend you use 3 or 4 of these sites at one time to find the best price and flight for your vacation.
What is it? Adioso takes the guessing games out of when to fly, for how long and where to.
Who is it for? Travelers with flexible schedules who want to quickly find the best flights for their trips.
Adioso is amazing. If you’ve never used it, your life is about to change. Not sure where and when you want to go? Enter a general timeline for when (June) and where (Europe) and Adioso will give you the best cities to visit at the best prices. What’s even more incredible is their natural language search engine. It let’s you input searches like “NYC to South America in July for 12 days” and out comes the perfect results for your dream trip.
My favorite part of Adioso for the traveler who knows exactly what they want, is their “Smart View” flight finder. Simply put in your exact dates and location and out comes 3 options for your journey: the cheapest trip, the best overall trip and the shortest flight. It takes out all the hard work of looking through every flight to find your best options.
What is it? FlightFox is a marketplace of flight experts who find you the best flights.
Who is it for? Travelers looking to take complex and multi-city trips.
FlightFox is perfect for the traveler who wants to save money but doesn’t want to do the hard work. It’s all the best parts about using a travel agency without having to actually leave your house. For a small fee of $49 you can have a team of 15 experts from FlightFox work to find you the best flights at the best prices. Simply sign up, submit your itinerary and trip goals (where, when, how long, to save money, flexibility, etc) and let the team of experts at FlightFox do all the hard work. Their customer feedback and satisfaction says a lot about how good they are. See for yourself.
Airfare Watch Dog
What is it? Twitter account that offers alerts for the latest breaking flight deals and discounts.
Who is it for? Travelers looking to save big time on airfare with breaking price alerts. Be ready to book your trip on the whim.
What sets AirfareWatchDog apart from it’s competition is it’s personal and thoughtful social experience on Twitter. The @AirfareWatchDog account is easily the best option out there for finding cheap flights the instant price changes happen. They are the only site that lists airline fares for every single airline, big and small, to make sure you get the best options possible. Just yesterday they broke the news of an insane sale ($400 RT) on Delta and Norwegian for flights to Europe. Give them a follow or you’ll regret it.
What is it? Google’s very own flight search engine that uses a powerful software to find routes/prices.
Who is it for? Any traveler who is looking to dig in and research their own flights to save money with an intuitive interface.
One of my favorite tools for finding the best time to fly is Google Flights. Google purchased the licensing rights to ITA Matrix in 2011 (a travel agents best friend) and now they use the software to power their flight engine searches. Google Flights offers a really great map view to help you drag and drop to different destinations. It also shows you each month at a glance so you can help figure out which days, weeks or months are cheaper to fly to your favorite destinations. We recommend using Google Flights as a tool to the start of your research before you move on to more detailed searches and bookings.
What is it? A powerful and customizable flight search tool with fantastic daily alerts.
Who is it for? Everyone. Don’t go on a trip without using SkyScanner.
SkyScanner has saved me some serious money over the last two years, and it can do the same for you. The award winning UK based company offers an intuitive but powerful search engine that lets you customize and find the best flight options for yourself. They dig through all your favorite travel booking sites (in the US and overseas) and they only display the cheapest airfare possible for that flight. We recommend you sign up for their daily flight alerts to monitor price changes for your trip before you book.
What is it? A flight search engine that rates your results based on various factors that impact your happiness.
Who is it for? Travelers looking for the full details about which flight is better and why.
Routehappy has one goal in mind: to give you the best price with the best experience. Each result from your search is graded out of 10 on their “Happiness Scale” based on 6 different factors like legroom, Wi-Fi, time traveled and more. You’ll find that a majority of the time flights rated with the highest happiness factor (8+) are also one of the cheapest available. RouteHappy also work with SkyScanner (mentioned previously) to make sure you’re seeing all the best flight options available. That’s a win win in our books.
The Flight Deal
What is it? Blog/Twitter account that posts only the best of the best flight deals and discounts available.
Who is it for? Travelers who don’t have particular destination in mind but want to save money.
The Flight Deal is similar to AirfareWatchDog but with a specific set of rules when it comes to flight deals. If you live in one of the 11 major cities (NYC, BOS, SEA, MIA, etc) that The Flight Deal curates deals for, this is a big asset for you. They post the latest breaking airfare prices to destinations around the world if the airfare fits their “price per mile traveled” criteria. Simply put, it can be a “great deal” but if it doesn’t fall under their minimum price point for that destination then you won’t hear a peep from them about it. The Flight Deal posts all their deals to their must follow Twitter account (@TheFlightDeal), as well as their website and RSS feed.
What is it? A search engine that offers detailed analysis and insights for your requested trip.
Who is it for? Travelers that want to make their decisions about airfare and travel by weighing a variety of facts.
What impacts the price of flights from your local airport? What’s the cheapest time of the year to fly from JFK? What’s the best airline to fly with to your destination? Momondo answers all these questions and more. They set themselves apart from other airlines by offering you the same “at a glance services” on top of their incredibly detailed and thoughtful analysis. Seriously, the amount of information they gather and present about your trip is insane. Try a search for yourself and click on “Flight Insight” to see what we’re talking about.
Sometimes a computer just can’t do the trick no matter how many algorithms it wants to run. Use Momondo to analyze all the information they present and then decide for yourself what flight is right for you.
What is it? A flight search engine that factors in every aspect of your journey before showing you the best flight.
Who is it for? Travelers who want to save money but value their time and comfort when flying.
Hipmunk is a flight search engine with a personality and we love it. Hipmunk’s “Agony” search engine will present you with the best flights, at the best prices, that offer the most bang for your buck. They’ll show you what they consider the best airfare but it may be $100 more than other cheaper fares. When that flight is 5 hours faster, has 3 more inches of legroom (yes, please!) and no connections, you won’t be complaining about the price difference. Cheap doesn’t always mean it’s the best option.
Combine that with a beautiful website and interface and you’ve got one of our favorite flight search engines on the web.
What is it? Kayak’s powerful map based flight airfare search engine.
Who is it for? Travelers who want an at glance look at where they can go and for how much.
We all know about Kayak by now, and while it’s a great website to look up flights, hotels and more, it doesn’t set itself apart from our favorite sites. Except for in one area: the “Kayak Explore” page. Input your local airport, and the month (or the entire year) and you’ll be presented with a powerful map based tool to search the best rates from around the world. It’s really amazing to use as your initial search tool before you move on to sites like SkyScanner to find your exact flight for booking.