Listen, Friend, I love traveling and I love a good deal. I have been known to take 5 flights to get from the U.S. to Athens, totaling 36 hours of travel, just to save $100.
In the past, I would orchestrate such crazed itineraries myself, but with the advent of websites specializing in cheap airfare, I no longer have to go to the trouble of doing the work myself. One such website is Airfarewatchdog, which allows you to compare flight deals to popular locales.
This site also lets you sign up for email alerts that makes finding flights for your favorite travel routes easy. With over ten years of experience, this company of airfare experts hires actual people to sort through thousands of flight prices to find the best deals for you.
What is Airfarewatchdog?
Airfarewatchdog was founded by travel enthusiast and writer George Hobica but is now operated by TripAdvisor. Before creating his own budget travel site, Hobica was an extensive traveler and wrote for such publications as Condé Nast and Travel and Leisure. Hobica still writes and is a champion of customizable low-fare routes.
My search uncovered that Airfarewatchdog is a great option for travelers who either have flexible dates or who don’t have a specific destination in mind. For example, if someone has a long weekend and has the hankering to get out of dodge, a quick search on Airfarewatchdog will load cheap flights to various locales.
However, it might not be the best option if one has a specific (and smaller city) in mind. If you do have a loose itinerary, then this site will save you quite a bit of money, which can then be spent on your actual vacation!
How does Airfarewatchdog work?
When you load Airfarewatchdog on your browser, you will see this:
From here you simply enter your departure city and destination and click show deals. For email alerts, simply click the box under “Send me deals on this route”. A box will pop up and prompt you to add your email address. It’s as simple as that!
If you don’t have a specific route in mind and want to explore good deals, click on the FLIGHTS tab at the top of the page:
Here you will see a drop-down menu and from there you can click on either EXPLORE or WEEKEND DEALS. These are great options for people on a budget, who have the hankering for an adventure, wherever it takes them!
Obviously, I was eager to try out Airfarewatchdog for myself. There is nothing quite as exciting as planning one’s next adventure.
My self-imposed tutorial was complete, I logged on and was immediately struck by how easy the website was to navigate. I am technologically inept and even I could figure out how to use it.
The first thing I noticed while fiddling about were advertisements for amazing deals: Charlotte, North Carolina to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania for only $136? What kind of magical sorcery was this? Although I no longer live in Charlotte, I used to, so I clicked on the link to see the full itinerary.
It took me to a secondary site (e-Dreams) which actually advertised the flight for $15 less! What?! Sorcery compounded! The itinerary was a non-stop flight. It seemed, however, as with most budget flights, you had to purchase all extras you wanted including meals, seat choice, baggage, and insurance.
Well, nuts. There were, however, fairly decent flights leaving from Copenhagen. This would necessitate me buying airfare from Aalborg to Copenhagen before taking advantage of the deals Airfarewatchdog touts.
My searches had shown promise, but not being able to snag a good deal for departing from Aalborg was hardly ideal. Hmmm…
I decided to take a deeper dive into the site. Read on for a comprehensive review of Airefarewatchdog.
When exploring this site I found a good many pros for travel enthusiasts on a budget. For example, the site is easy to use. As aforementioned, those that struggle with technology will have no problems navigating the clear-cut layout.
Perhaps my favorite attribute of Airfarewatchdog is the weekend feature. My fellow traveler, I’m sure you dream of flying away somewhere for a fun weekend…especially when slogging through work on a Monday morning.
Enter the Weekend Deals tab.
This feature shows all cheap flights available between Thursdays and the following Tuesdays. Some itineraries are shorter, and some are longer, but you are guaranteed to find one that fits your schedule and budget.
Choose Your Own Adventure
Another unique feature that I discovered on Airfarewatchdog is called “Choose Your Own Adventure“.
Here you are given options catered to your interests such as Island Getaways, Beer Scenes, Aquariums, Amazing Architecture, and Adventure Travel. Then Airfarewatchdog shows details from your local airport to places that would interest you based on your selection.
See Related: What is a Hacker Fare?
One feature I must rave about in this Airfarewatchdog review is that the site lists the airlines it uses. You are able to narrow your search to a specific airline if, for example, you want to capitalize on a rewards or points system.
Furthermore, Airfarewatchdog has compiled all the information you need about each airline so there is no question of how much baggage fees are or how many carry-ons are permitted per person. Friend.
This is game-changing. It saves so much time and stress to have all the information ready for you.
Set up Alerts
As with most budget travel sites, Airfarewatchdog allows the user to set up email alerts. So, for example, if you had a hankering to go somewhere but wanted to wait until the price was right, you could set up email alerts that let you know when cheap airfare deals are available for your preferred route.
While email alerts are popular amongst an array of sites, it is nevertheless a handy feature. After all, the less time spent cruising the interwebs for good deals is more time you can spend on planning the fun parts of your trip.
See Related: Ways to Book the Cheapest First-Class Flights
Airfarewatchdog is completely free to use and does not contain any hidden fees when purchasing tickets.
Airfarewatchdog provides a blog that is a great resource for travelers looking for top travel tips – people after our own hearts! They have three categories of articles: Recent Fare Sales, Travel Tips and Advice, and Travel Gear.
I particularly enjoyed reading “Should I Get Travel Insurance” by Alene Laney. As someone who frequently flies to the U.S. with accident-prone children, it was helpful for me to get a list of legitimate insurance agents so I could be covered in case of an emergency!
I also found the Recent Fare Sales page to be very helpful in highlighting deals across many airline companies. It makes booking low-price flights so easy when all the information has been researched for you and is presented in an easily-accessible way.
Despite the multitude of amazing features that Airfarewatchdog offers, this review would be remiss without mentioning some of the disadvantages of using Airfarewatchdog’s services.
Bait and Switch
Several reviews I read complained about Airfarewatchdog employing bait-and-switch tactics. Customers would see a good airfare price and click the link.
When sent to the second-party site, the prices would have gone up by at least $100. Although this was not my personal experience with Airfarewatchdog, I have experienced this on other sites that tout cheap airfare deals.
Fellow Traveler, as you know, it is extremely frustrating to find a good deal and then discover that in fact, it doesn’t exist.
Specific to Popular Hubs
As mentioned earlier in this review, low fares are bountiful on this site, but only for popular airport hubs. Trying to get a deal out of a smaller city (like Aalborg *sniff*) is a guaranteed no-go.
Airfarewatchdog would love it if you book flights directly through them – fair enough, they helped you find the flight, only fair to let them wet their beak right?
Cool, just remember that Airfarewatchdog doesn’t have any rewards or incentives for actually booking through them, so you could be missing out on airline miles and credit card points. Find the deal, then book at the source or a travel portal.
Poor Customer Service
A number of customer reviews complained about poor customer service. Users of the site mentioned rude and unhelpful agents and were understandably frustrated.
A sure way to ruin the joy of planning a fun vacation is difficulty contacting the agent with any ticket reservation questions!
Too Many Ads!
My personal foray into Airafarewatchdog left me with no small amount of ad trauma. The amount of marketing and promotional emails they send is borderline obnoxious.
See Related: Travel Hacking 101
As aforementioned, Airfarewatchdog has some truly unique aspects that set it apart from its competitors. But aside from the company’s weekend, adventure, and flight info features, there are some others worth noting as well:
- Low-Cost Flights – It goes without saying that Airfarewatchdog delivers its mission to provide travelers with low-cost flights. These flights may be no-frills, but they will get the budget-conscious traveler where they want to go.
- Travel Tips – Airfarewatchdog provides a section on travel tips and advice which provides information on the practical aspects of travel (“Should I get travel insurance?“) to the fun (“10 Spookiest Haunted Hotels in the World”).
- Hotel Alerts – Aside from low airline prices, Airfarewatchdog offers hotel alerts where the user can be appraised of any low fees that pop up in their desired vacation spot. This makes finding your next hotel stay convenient and easy.
See Related: SafetyWing Review: Is It Legit or a Scam?
Airfarewatchdog vs the Competition
Free to Use
Unlike popular competitors, Airfarewatchdog is free to use. For this broke lady, that is huge. I always feel like I’m getting scammed if I have to pay a fee in order to take advantage of good deals. It’s almost as if the monthly fee cancels out the savings from the cheap airfare.
- Scott’s Cheap Flights is a good alternative you can investigate. They offer a similar service with remarkably similar coverage in terms of possible destination cities with an easy-to-use interface.
They also have a free trial (that you can use indefinitely try), but to get their best deals you really need to pay for a premium ($49 per year). That way you can get the best deals and the most up-to-date info on flights and destinations.
This is a good middle-ground option if you’re a somewhat frequent traveler.
- Thrifty Traveler Premium is another alternative I’d recommend. The premium program with these guys is (only) a little more expensive than their counterparts (either $50 a year or $6 per month), but certainly worth it if you are a frequent traveler.
That said, you can save money when you use our promo code VIA10 at checkout and enjoy 10% off a premium membership when you sign up.
What you’re really paying for are the service and convenience – Thrifty Traveler has a superb customer service team, as well as an intuitive site that can help you manage booking flights, hotels, cars, and where your points or mile are spent.
Plus they’ll send you terrific deals on flights several times per day, making them a top choice for frequent travelers.
It’s Not a Booking Site
You might wonder how Airfarewatchdog compares to popular Online Travel Agencies (OTAs) like Orbitz and Expedia. A little-known fact is that the aforementioned OTAs are owned by the same parent company (the Expedia Group), and while they do offer great deals, all bookings are done directly on their site. This means it is in Airfarewatchdog’s best interest for you to book directly with them.
Conversely, Airfarewatchdog (like fellow website Kayak) is an aggregator, meaning that it pulls information from several sites to bring you the best deals. When the user clicks on the link, they are taken to a third-party site to view the itinerary and purchase the flight. While some might consider it a pain to be directed to a third-party site for booking, it seems more above board to me.
I’ll be honest friend, if you’re not into the deals Airfarewatchdog has sniffed out for you, I’ve had a lot of luck finding and booking deals through Kayak. Sure, the website is as orange as a Cheeto, but the one-stop-shop convenience of Kayak is killer.
Offers Deals from Budget Airlines
Airfarewatchdog promotes deals from companies like Southwest Airlines that its competitors do not. This provides the user with more opportunities for great airline prices!
Airfarewatchdog Review Ratings
- Ease-of-Use: 5/5
- Features: 4/5
- Customer Service: 2/5
- Value for Money: 4/5
See Related: Best Alternatives to Skyscanner
With all this in mind, I would recommend this as one of the sites that travelers on a budget look at when booking their next trip, especially if booking flights to or from a major city.
Of course, one must be advised that due to ever-changing flight prices, a deal might change in an instant. However, this can happen and does happen on all budget airfare websites and is par for the course.
With an easy-to-use interface, thousands of deals daily, and helpful features that cater to your interests and schedules, Airfarewatchdog is a tool that can aid you in planning your next adventure and saving money while doing it.