The best airfare sites do more than help you book cheap flights that move you from point A to point B. They gather operational information and pricing data from hundreds of airline systems, analyze these vast resources, and present a simple, clear report that sorts flight information based on things like price, time and carrier. The emergence of flight websites has revolutionized the way we conduct travel for business and pleasure.
The top flight websites have a knack for sifting through a multitude of travel deals and showing you the best ones on a daily basis. An effective use of the right airfare website can save you plenty of money on flights with quality airlines.
The Best Flight Search Engine - In This Guide
The Best Site to Book Flights: Our Top Picks
If you are trying to find the best prices for flights for an upcoming trip, these companies are the go-to names in the industry of scoring the best deals for 2016. I have chosen them based on their longevity in the industry, their level of trustworthiness, how comprehensive their services are, and how satisfied customers are with the results they have received.
- Easy to use site
- Many service package options
- Search multiple flights
- The site offers plenty information
- "Best Price Guarantee" policy
- Long waits with customer service
One of the catchiest taglines we have seen on Expedia recently is "Book flight + hotel at the same time, and save up to $525." This is just one of the many great deals Expedia offers. The site has been revamped nicely in the last three to four years, and today it provides the type of depth you would expect from a major flight data aggregator.
Expedia has a solid platform and excellent customer service, besides the collection of nice and informative tools the site provides to you. We enjoy the many packaging options they offer, like booking just a flight, a flight and a hotel, or a flight and a car, and combinations in between. We recommend you use Expedia to book a flight because the site gives you the largest selection of airlines (130+), you can get interesting fare deals, and the company's customer service department is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
- The Priceline website is full of flight information
- It's sleek and easy to navigate
- They advertise a "best price guarantee"
- Homepage displays attractive offers
- Trusted, reliable service
- Very similar offerings to other great travel sites
Priceline is a very popular travel site you can use to book flights, to find a price that works for you. Using their "name your price" bidding system, they allow you to decide what you want to pay while they scan available sellers to meet it.
Priceline is a sure bet, and it is one of the top online players in the world. So it is great for when you want to book a flight in advance or at the last minute. This site is as informative as they come, and you can find everything from travel ideas to travel guides on the site. They offer great savings on hotel bookings, with savings around 60%, according to their website.
Priceline also offers a handy mobile app, that makes it easy to find great airfare deals easily, from anywhere. On Priceline's website, they also offer a very comprehensive FAQ, that is detailed enough to cover a wide range of issues and situations.
With plenty of helpful features available, I have to rate Priceline at 5 stars for their level of service and offerings. They have been a mainstay in this industry for so long because they have managed to stay relevant and competitive, providing tremendous value to their customers.
- User-friendly site
- Great deals
- Exclusive deals for members
- Get credit if you find a better deal after booking
- Handy email alert tool
- No vacation packages available
Big buttons, a simple design and easy to use tools are what make CheapAir an incredibly user-friendly site to use. Even after you use the search tool and generate a list based on your inputs, the site is still simple and easy to read. Other top sites take you to a jumbled mess of sidebars, numbers and text that takes some adjusting.
CheapAir allows you to see their site's deals and the deals from other sites so you can compare prices from multiple sources. This makes it more likely that you will find the best deal after searching just one site. Plus, after you put in your search terms, the site asks you if you would like email alerts based on your search. This allows you to hear about new deals as soon as they become available.
Deals on the site are very competitive, especially if you are a member. A free membership will get you exclusive deals and early access to new promotions. Also, if you book a flight and then you see that a better deal has just become available, CheapAir will give you credit for the difference.
Although, there are hotels and rental cars available on the site, there isn't a vacation package option.
With excellent deals and a user-friendly site, CheapAir is a great place to book a flight. If you are looking for vacation bundles it might be better to check another site first.
- User-friendly site
- Easy to use search tool
- Great vacation packages
- Ability to mix and match flights
- Ability to search for themed vacations
- Minimal support
Cheap Tickets is another helpful flight finding tool that is user-friendly and easy to use. Their search tool has all of the filters that you would expect from a flight and travel search engine plus the ability to search by star rating when looking for hotels. The site has plenty of vacation packages to choose from if you are looking to bundle your flight with other options like hotels and rental cars.
Their website even even has a feature that allows you to search for specific themed vacations if you are looking for a little inspiration. Another helpful feature is that not only can you book flights, hotels and cars; you can also find event tickets.
Cheap Tickets may be a great travel website overall, but what about for flights specifically? Well, they have a pretty interesting feature when you are just looking for flights too. They allow you to mix and match flights from different airlines. This means if you leave on one airline you don't necessarily have to return with the same one. By mixing different airlines for your departure and return flights you can ensure you are getting the best possible deal and you aren't committed to just one company.
The FAQ section is the best resource for customer support and there is no phone number listed on their support page.
Cheap Tickets has a lot of great features for anyone looking for flights or for a total vacation package. Their customer support doesn't seem as comprehensive as some of the other top sites but this is still a great resource for travelers.
- Comprehensive search tools for precise results
- BBB Accredited with an A+ rating
- Website is easy to navigate; very user-friendly
- Easily compare cheap airfare rates and quotes between companies
- App is available to search via smart phones
- KAYAK has earned some negative reviews due to flight confusion
- Customer service can be difficult to get straight answers from
KAYAK has become a major player in the competitive world of flight booking game and the entire niche of online travelling. In addition to flights, this travel search engine provides booking capabilities for hotels, vacation rentals, and restaurants.
Currently one of the most popular websites for travel planning, KAYAK can help you book flights and hotels in all destinations, along with all additional travel needs such as car rental, hotel bookings, and everything else you may need regarding travel management. After delving into the company's flight-booking value proposition, I've rated it 4 stars.
KAYAK is available across 40 different international sites, and in 20 languages. Handling 1.5 billion queries a year, they have become one of the best airfare search engines available.
The KAYAK website is very easy to use, is highly visually appealing, and they offer a variety of modern conveniences to make airfare shopping go over more easily and conveniently. Their award-winning mobile app gives customers an additional level of access and ability to stay ahead of the game when it comes to handling all of your travel needs.
Despite some negative reviews and customer complaints that can be found sporadically around the web, KAYAK boasts an excellent BBB rating of A+, and they are BBB Accredited.
The bottom line with KAYAK is that they offer an incredible amount of selection, convenience and versatility, plus a wealth of flight information that can help you make a smart travel decision while saving you money in the process. I've personally used KAYAK for cheap airfare bookings in the recent past, and I found its search tools to be reliable and fast. As a reliable player in the market of travel search engine sites, KAYAK offers great rates, ease of navigation, and a serious tech-based approach to finding the best airfare.
Key Considerations When Booking a Flight
The best flight sites offer great deals; here's why:
- Good values. Of course, your primary objective is quality and affordability.
- Trustworthy reviews. Reviews for deals on any travel site should be accurate.
- Information. Preparing for a trip requires knowledge about your destination so a site that offers that is great.
- Quick and available customer service.
How to Get the Most From Airfare Sites
- Airfare costs are extremely variable.There is no specific day or time that will land you the best airfare; they are seriously so unpredictable, it would be foolish to even try to pinpoint an exact day or time to pinpoint as the best.
- Due to the unpredictable nature of airfares and finding them online, the best way to score the best deal is to search often, with as long as possible to find them. Fares change price throughout the day, so be prepared to grab a great fare when you see it.
- Sign up for email alerts from different cheap flight search companies, so that when fares are dropping, you'll be notified.
- Being flexible about your flying days and times is one of the best ways to get a great deal. It's too common to see great rates within just a few days at times.
- For last minute trips, the best flight sites can offer the best prices and deals available; sometimes up to 50% in savings.
Benefits of Flight Search Engines
- Convenient booking for different flights that don't have a straight route because the site will handle the details.
- More versatile bookings for overseas flights.
- Cost savings are great for last minute traveling.
- For off-the-path travelers, airfare booking sites offer many arrangement options.
- Canceling or changing travel dates can be smoother with an airfare site.
- More options are available with airfare search engine sites than going through each brand individually, so for customized needs, you can get exactly what you need.
Saving Time and Money
- Use one of the best airfare sites for finding the best deals on airfare and plane tickets.
- Scan through a range of different travel sites to see what kinds of deals are out there.
- Specific travel times, like early or late mornings, do not necessarily guarantee a lower rate; look at all flight times.
- Use travel credit cards for optimal protection, and added perks like free checked bags, and access to airport lounges. They can also help you avoid foreign transaction fees that can be applied when shopping overseas with other credit/ debit cards.
- Steer clear of tourist traps in your destination. Shopping and eating can be done if you veer away from the heavy traffic and opt for where the locals hang out. (Bonus: you'll find a more authentic experience like this anyway.)
Why You Should Use a Flight Search Engine
According to the New York Times, the rates of travelers who book their trips through online flight search engines, is continuously on the decline. In 2011, 37% used travel agents for flight bookings, while by 2013, that number stood at 32%, however in no way is this indicative of the lessening prevalence of such sites.
On the contrary, airfare search engines have become well-known and highly appreciated by customers who are after last minute flights, because the best flight booking sites have the ability to score some of the best prices around. Additionally, for those last minute trips, these sites can often arrange packages such as cruises, car rentals, and hotel bookings for a fraction of the cost as well.
This is indeed, a billion dollar industry that continues to offer a popular, efficient, and useful service for travelers of all kinds.
Tips & Advice
Here are my tips for getting the most out of your cheap flight search:
- Check out all your options. Look at prices across them to see who is offering better deals, or who has overall access to lower prices from airline companies.
- Compare reviews from different companies examining the pros and cons.
- Be meticulous when inputting your details; even just slightest misstep where the wrong info is calculated can cost you. Airport codes, dates, and other relevant information is extremely necessary.
- Be open and flexible to new possibilities and options in your travel. Slight tweaks in your plans such as the date, the airport, and the time can make the difference between major savings.
- Fare Jumping is a real phenomenon; be careful when booking because rates can change in front of your face, in seconds.
- Third-party sites do not always honor discounts found elsewhere.
- Even if you've found an excellent deal on cheap airfare, be sure to check to see if the bottom line price is what you think it'll be. Make sure the fees, taxes, booking charges, and any extra surcharges are equated in so that you are not surprised by after the fact.
- Protect your purchase by using a credit card to make the purchase.
Travel sites such as the best flight search engines, encompass the largest sector of e-commerce; that's how massive this market is.
While there truly are no specific best sites to book flights, different sites offer a range of options and information, and if you are up for finding the best rates with informative feedback, do your best to scan through them all.
One of the best and most unique things some flight booking sites offer are the availability of reviews, and being able to research using these can be highly useful.
I have compiled a variety of information about these sites and how well they service the needs and goals of their customer base. Knowing how important it is to dig deep to see if a particular company and their services may work for you, here are some things to keep in mind about cheap flight sites reviews.
- Major airfare sites that offer the ability to read reviews from consumers can be a great way to get perspectives and experiences from those who have traveled with them first-hand.
- When it comes to customer reviews, understand that more people are inclined to leave negative reviews when upset.
- The more reviews you read on different sites, the more insight you'll get on what truly constitutes a great deal, and if certain companies go a step beyond others in getting them for their customers.
- Know what to look for in a review; different companies may attempt to pass off obvious services as special, or they may word their offerings to make it seem as though they are offering a fabulous deal when in reality, it is not. Become adept at understanding what companies offer.
- Know what you want, so that when you read reviews, you can tell if the information provided is relevant to your needs.
Finding the best airfare is a concern of most travelers because everyone wants a fair deal. While there are many different sites across the internet offering great prices and bargains, I suggest going after those with great reputations, great offerings, and the know-how to get your trip done the way you want it. From reduced airfare and flight punctuality to airport condition, these flight websites are changing part of the travel experience.
These websites make it easy to search for flights, book hotels, and rent cars, but they also give you a valuable tool to get the best fare out there. I would recommend you go with the combo option, that is, book more than one product, to reap more savings from the multitude of daily deals featured on these sites. I would also advise you to check out my reviews of the best hotel booking sites and the best car rental companies.