Finding cheap flights has become immeasurably easier over the past 20 years. This is largely thanks to flight comparison websites.
However, there are so many flight price comparison websites it can be difficult to know which one fits your needs best.
To help get your head around this glut of websites, I’ve put together a list of the top 10 and what they do best. And which, I feel is the best flight comparison website.
What is a flight comparison website?
A flight comparison website is a tool that allows users to search for and compare flights from airlines and online travel agents. Users can compare prices, schedules and other factors which help you find the right flight at the best prices.
It does this by aggregating data from these sources and displaying it in an easily digestible manner, usually on a single page where you can sort, filter and browse the flight information.
5 tips to help save on flight prices
Before we delve into the best flight comparison websites, here are several tips to help you save on flights.
1. Be flexible
Be willing to fly at unsociable hours and on a range of dates.
This flexibility should extend to a willingness to travel outside peak times of the year when flights are at their costliest like Christmas and school holidays.
2. Book with budget airlines
If you’re willing to sacrifice comfort and sometimes punctuality in exchange for low-cost airfare, consider booking with a budget airline.
I usually find the difference in quality between budget airlines and their more expensive counterparts to be minimal - regardless of price, you’re still in a cramped seat on a stuffy metal tube in the sky.
The main difference is how much cheaper the budget airline is.
3. Set up price alerts on comparison sites
Many comparison websites for flights offer the option to set up a price alert for previously searched flights.
This is a superb way to keep an eye on flight prices and pounce on them when you see a price drop.
4. Consider alternative airports
Depending on where you’re travelling, it can be cheaper to fly to an airport further away from your destination and then travel overland to your actual destination.
Alternatively, you can do this in your departure country. Pick an airport that frequently offers cheap tickets but isn’t necessarily the closest to your house.
5. Travel light
One tip for travelling light is to wear extra layers on your travel days - the more clothes on you the less there is to pack.
The top 10 flight comparison websites
1. Best user interface: Google Flights
Google Flights is a flight search engine - so you won’t be booking directly with Google but through an airline or online travel agent.
It’s incredibly user-friendly, even if you’re not so au-fait with technology. Creating and modifying searches is easier with Google Flights compared to most other similar sites.
Google Flights also makes it super easy to explore potential destinations with a draggable world map that shows airports and potential ticket prices all on one screen.
Finally, Google Flights results often include some of the lowest prices available.
2. Best comparison tool for budget flights: Skyscanner
Skyscanner is one of the best places to find and compare cheap flights. They’re a flight search engine that aggregates results from airlines and online travel agents.
Their interface allows for flexibility in both the dates and destinations you search for.
While potentially the cheapest flight comparison site I’ve come across, some of Skyscanner’s suggested routes are a little funky. Think 3 separate stops, 30 hours of travelling, and you have to book through a third party with awful reviews.
Even ignoring these weirder routes (which I suggest you do) you’ll probably be satisfied by Skyscanner’s low prices.
3. Best flight comparison website for offbeat destinations: Momondo
Momondo, another on the list of flight search engines, excels at digging up great deals for flights to more off-key, less travelled cities. You’ll find results for online travel agents as well as airlines. A perfect option for cheap flight tickets if you love off the beaten track travel.
If you’re flexible with dates, you can choose to “explore” destinations from your departure airport. This will bring up a list of momondo flights and destinations that you can fly to on the cheap.
4. Best for flight comparison website for filtering and sorting flights: Kayak
Kayak is a solid all-rounder if you’re looking to find cheap air tickets. It’s another flight search engine that’ll scrape flight deals from airlines and online travel agents.
With Kayak there’s a multitude of filter options to narrow down search results. These filters include takeoff times, airlines, layover lengths, even the type of plane you’ll fly in, and so much else.
With Kayak flights you can also enlarge your search to include nearby arrival and departure airports, broadening the chances of snatching up a great deal.
5. Best new flight comparison website: Moonsand
Moonsand is a relative newcomer in the world of flight comparison websites. Despite this, it’s a superb flight search engine that more than matches up to other more established sites.
First, Moonsand results frequently show cheaper prices than other similar sites. This is largely because Moonsand draws its results from such a large pool of online travel agents, other flight aggregators and airlines.
Additionally, Moonsand gives you an estimate of how much extra checked baggage will cost - dodging any scary surprises when you come to adding checked baggage, a feature very few flight comparison websites offer.
Moonsand also ranks as one of the best for international flight comparison websites as it integrates with multiple international airlines and flight aggregators.
6. Best flight comparison mobile app: Hopper
Hopper predicts future flight prices up to a year in advance. It does this by taking into account historical flight prices and using a predictive model to forecast when prices are likely to fluctuate.
With Hopper flights you just input your route and travel dates and Hopper will say whether you should book immediately or wait.
Alongside other features, Hopper offers flash deals - exclusive limited-time discounts available to users of the Hopper app.
You can’t book flights on a desktop, just through the app. This isn’t a problem though since it’s a well-designed app.
7. Best for flight comparison website for last-minute deals: Hotwire
Hotwire, an online travel agent, is a superb choice for flexible travellers who can take advantage of their last-minute deals.
Last-minute deals aside, Hotwire functions as a pretty standard flight comparison website.
Hotwire encourages you to use their app wherever possible - stating their prices are always cheaper through the app. You can also save money by bundling your flight booking with a hotel.
8. Best flight comparison loyalty program: Expedia
An online travel agent that’s been around since the 90s. Expedia’s loyalty program is where it shines.
Save up to 10% on hotels and flights, earn points and enjoy various member perks. Savings can go up to as much as 30% if you bundle a hotel with your Expedia flights booking.
The loyalty program (known as One Key) covers Hotels.com and Vrbo too.
9. Best price match guarantee: Priceline
Priceline is another online travel agent. They often have special deals that you might struggle to find elsewhere.
Deals can be found through bundling flight and hotel bookings together or through their app.
While the deals offered by Priceline can be steals at times, the real reason it’s here is due to its second-to-none price match guarantee. If you’re a member and you find a better price for your flight elsewhere, Priceline could refund you up to 200% of the difference!
10. The best subscription-based comparison website - Going.com (Scott’s Cheap Flights)
While not a traditional flight comparison website (it’s a subscription service which regularly emails exceptionally cheap deals to its subscribers) Going.com is still an excellent tool for anyone looking for low-cost flights and is well worth a mention.
What’s my pick for the best comparison tool?
So, what is the best website to compare flight rates? The best flight comparison site is Google Flights. Their incredibly easy-to-use website makes it a breeze to book flights you already have in mind and also explore potential future destinations. The platform also allows you to search and compare hotels, hostels, things to do, activities, holiday rentals and more. I see Google 'Flights' as a one stop shop for many things travel.
We have discussed the user interface (UI) and the search-and-compare options available on the Google Travel platform, but they go one step further. The platform offers a flight price guarantee. What is the Google Flight price guarantee? I hear you ask. This is basically a pilot programme Google are offering to match the best airfare on the web. In the event you find the flight cheaper elsewhere after booking Google Flights will make up the difference, almost like booking insurance if you may.
Aside from their interface, Google Flights’s results are usually among the cheapest too, while suggesting more sensible routes than Skyscanner.
A quick recap
- Best flight comparison website with the best user interface: Google Flights
- Best flight booking site to find budget flights: SkyScanner
- Best website for off the beaten track destinations: Momondo
- Best flight booking website for filtering and sorting flights: Kayak
- Best new flight comparison website: Moonsand
- Best flight comparison mobile app: Hopper
- Best website to find last-minute deals: Hotwire
- Best flight website for loyalty programme and rewards: Expedia
- Best website for price match guarantee: Priceline
- Best subscription based flight comparison website: Going.com (formerly Scott's Cheap Flights)
All the flight comparison sites discussed today come with a unique ensemble of tools that specialize in helping you book cheap flights and holidays. Each with its benefits, and some with its drawbacks.
With these sites and their varying features in mind, I hope you’ve got an idea as to where to track down cheap flights in the future.
How to get flight price alerts?
Set up flight price alerts through one of the flight comparison websites listed above. Many of these allow you to set up flight price alerts after searching a route.
Once set up, you’ll be notified of any price changes via email.
Is it cheaper to book flights closer to the date or a while in advance?
It’s cheaper to book your flights a while in advance rather than closer to the departure date. The sweet spot for booking cheap flights is said to be anywhere from 3 weeks up to 4 months.
Personally, I book between 6-8 weeks in advance. Using Hopper flights will give you a good idea of when to book with their price prediction feature.
How to find cheap flights without a specific destination?
When choosing a destination you may have an option that says something like “anywhere” or “everywhere”.
This option searches for the cheapest flights available for the dates selected. All available destinations will be included in the search.
Skyscanner, Google Flights, Kayak and Momodo are among the sites where this feature is available.
What is the best day to buy flights?
There’s no clear answer as to which is the best day to buy flights.
It’s said that Tuesday is the best day to book flights, there have even been studies to back this up. However, other studies state that booking a flight on a Tuesday is no different to any other day of the week.
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