Welcome to our big flight search engine comparison. Here we put together some thoughts and reviews on the most common flight search engines. If you had different experiences or if miss your favourite flight search engine or flight booking website, send us a message or comment below the article and we add your favourites to our flight search engine comparison.
Flight Search Engines
When it comes to choose your favourite flight search engine, personal preferences always play a big role. For my own travels, I prefer to search flight dates and possible airlines on Matrix ITA and then I book them via Skyscanner or Ebookers, in case I need a multi-stop flight. Some people prefer flight search engines with a better user interface, while others need more comprehensive data or rare payment options. Whatever you choose, try to think environmentally friendly, avoid domestic flights when possible and be considerate of your own carbon footprint! If you need more information on how to book cheap flights, read our tutorial, packed with lots of useful hints and tricks on how to book cheap flights all around the world.
Best flight search engines overview:
- Matrix ITA
- Google Flights
- The Flight Deal
- Apps and other flight searches
The big “Travel for free” flight search engine comparison
- Skyscanner is probably the most popular flight comparison engine for budget travelers today. It is very comfortable and allows to search with open criteria regarding the time and location of your future travels. It also includes cheap flights and budget airlines, except of a multi stop flight search, skyscanner offers everything you could possibly want from a flight search engine. After you found a flight, you get forwarded to the best booking website or directly to your airline of choice and you will book directly on their website. This ensures, that no additional fees or hidden charges will be applied. The best feature is possibly the open time search. You can not only look for flights on specific dates, but search for weekly, monthly or yearly best price offers. What pages like Kayak started in the beginning, is what Skyscanner developed from. A user friendly interface and a good selection of airlines. It also shows you a lot of data, like layover times and specific flights information, that you have to search for when using other flight search engines. Some people complain, that Skyscanner is not the tool of choice, to book flights around East-Asia and South America due to inaccurancy of the data within. In fact, skyscanner only works as good as it’s users, cause the main results will only get updated once users are searching for it. So less popular destinations tend to have the same or even higher prices on Skyscanner, than you would find in other flight search engines. Nonetheless, if you travel around Europe, Skyscanner will find cheaper flights in most of the cases, than any other flight search tool would.
- Google ITA Software. Even it still looks like a beta stage software, “Matrix” or “Google ITA” or now “ITA Software” is nothing new. The software is one of the most powerful and comprehensive flight search engines and was developed by computer scientists at MIT in 1996. By the time it was released, Matrix was outstanding regarding the search options and visual features and a lot of the funcionality we see in modern flight search apps and websites, was inspired by Matrix ITA. ITA Softwares new app, “OntheFly” creates easy and extensive searches on all up-to-date iOS Apple devices. makes detailed search totally doable via an iPhone, iPod Touch, or iPad. Neither the site nor the app allows for booking. The only downside with ITA Software and Onthefly is, that no airfares can be booked using the actual software. Nevertheless, the data provided by ITA is accurate in most of the cases, the search engine itself is incredibly quick and not loaded with useless feature or advertisements. Since ITA Software was taken over by Google, the background technology is also used for the Google flights search engine.
- ebookers. ebookers is a very useful site, when you need to find or book multistop flights. It is possible to select different departure and return destinations and to add several stops in between. To book the cheapest airfare, you will have to know the exact schedule before, because the automatic results will most likely have all the cheapest flights. At this point, take a look at the detailed schedule and try to find a cheaper flight in a separate window, then you can adjust the dates in the multistop flight search window. You can also select your prefered airline and with a little backround knowledge from flight deal operators, you might find really cheap open jaw flights. A good example are the deals from British Airways, that can be found on ebookers at all times for flights from Skandinavia to the United States with a return to The Netherlands or the other way around. The open time window on ebookers is a little short though and includes only three additional days before and after the desired day of travel within the search results.
- idealo. Not very prominent in the worldwide traveling community, but there are some benefits of idealo that I take advantage of on a regular basis. To perform a search on idealo, just type your destinations into google and add “idealo” to it. The site is well indexed and in addition the results will send you to a landing page that automatically shows you a calender of cheap fares for the whole year. This will give you a good idea, about the average flight costs for this route. I never actually booked a flight on idealo, since apart from the annual flight price overview, the site is pretty complicated to handle.
- Google Flights. Loaded with ITA softwares features and search power and released by the most used search engine on the internet, Google Flights has the potential to become the most successful flight search engine in the web, too. In fact, Google Flights appears to be really quick, the interface is stripped to its most important and useful parts and for many connections, especially around the United States, you can find reasonably cheap airfares. In addition the site shows useful hints on how to book the cheapest flight at a certain time and suggests different options, if layover times, early departures or very close connection flights are chosen. So overall it does not necessarily give you the cheapest flight, but tries to find a combination of quality and price. For me it’s a useful flight searching tool to double check the price of my bookings in the end. As long as I’m flying cheaper than Google Flights would have suggested, I’m usually quite satisfied.
- Kayak. Kayak sometimes seems to me like the family van of airfare comparison websites. It’s definitely practicable and has everything on board, that you might think about when booking a flight, but on the other hand it’s big, a bit slow and not exactly cheap. Without a doubt, Kayak was already an advanced flight comparison tool, when most of the others were still years away, but for the younger, spontaneous generation of travelers it’s rarely the first choice. Especially around Europe, Africa and the more western parts of Asia you will find Kayak incredibly expensive. Also the latest facelift, made it only look a bit more sporty, but that does not reflect in the search results. Use Kayak, when you have a corporate sponsor or after you bought your first house, but not when you’re planning on backpacking through the outback with no budget, cause you spent it all on your flight. If you just need to find out certain features about a flight, like the availability of onboard Wifi, detailed information about layover times or if youre looking for a quick and ready-to-book flight and hotel Package, Kayak might come in handy. In most other cases, Skyscanner will mostly find cheaper flights and is a lot quicker, except when you are traveling to or from the United States. Over there, Kayak is still one of the best flight comparison tools around.
- Hipmunk. This site is not much more than a search bar with your destination and dates of departure and return. Select the compare function, to see the Hipmunk results in direct comparison to the results of other search engines like Expedia. Besides that, Hipmunk has the talent to find very convinient fares, since the ranking is calculated from additional data like layover times. Unfortunately the deals on the Hipmunk page are only available for flight that start or end in the U.S.
- Momondo. Momondo is also one of the competitors, that lets you book flights, hotels and car rentals, all in one spot. The search interface in Momondo is very intuitiv and visually pleasing, but not always the quickest. The site seems to be exceptionally popular in Spain, Italy, Mexico and South America, but it can be a good choice for all other destinations too. It is not unlikely to find really cheap flights from mainland Europe to the Carribbean or Brasil there, but usually the prices tend to be just about 15 % higher than what you can find on ebookers at the same time.
- Adioso. Adioso completes the idea of saving money through traveling with a flexible schedule. Adioso can search for cheap flight within weekly, monthly or anytime period with just a few clicks. The airline Adioso comares are mostly solid and more established airlines, therefore it is hard to find the best price on Adioso, but just like idealo it can generate good ideas on when is the best time to travel to a particular destination. With the “everywhere” it can even help out with ideas on where to go.
- Skiplagged. Skipplagged is specialized in finding throwaway tickets, overbooked flights with free seats and error fares. The interesting part is, that sometimes you need to buy an airplane ticket, that seems to be obviosuly more expensive than what you actually need, but then appears to be supercheap. This can happen, when Airlines misplace deals, through system errors or simply, cause the airline tries to sell out empty spots.
Still, there is a lot of more tools to use, for example flight deal websites. Traveling cheap often means to be flexible about the times of your journeys. Please give us your thoughts on this article here in the comments or join Travel For Free on facebook.
Ps: If you want to contribute to our little community, or if you have similar knowledge about remote regions of the world that are not covered by the big flight search engines, send us a short introduction and we will respond immediately. Right now we would be very interested in your recommendations of flight booking sites to use around India and Africa. Thanks!