15 Best Flight Search Engines to Book Cheap Airfare

Best Flight Search Engines to Book Cheap Airfare

For one reason or another, the cost of plane tickets keeps rising. A typical vacation for two people now costs about $3,838, according to Picaso – and paying for your flights might just be the largest chunk of that whopping sum.

With prices rising, finding cheap flights and affordable vacation packages is becoming even more important. Many people use online travel agencies and booking sites to find the cheapest flight deals. We decided to take a look at some of the most popular travel search engines to see which ones provide the best value.

How Did We Find The Best Flight Search Engines?

Several factors are critical when reviewing a travel search engine. Of course, a good search engine must offer an easy way to find cheap fares.

Customer service, a range of airline partners, access to popular destinations, fee structure, and a good rewards program also are factors. Being able to book package deals that include flights, hotels, and car rentals is a great convenience, and played into our rankings.

When evaluating a flight search engine, we decided to rate these critical factors based on our experience in using the search engine and what we gleaned from customer reviews and travel experts.

TL;DR: Best Ways To Find Cheap Flights

Category Site
Best For Cheap Flights Skyscanner
Best For Package Deals Expedia
Best For Price Comparisons Kayak
Best Deal Alerts Going

Top Flight Search Engines to Find Cheap Flights

Based on this approach, here are our top 15 flight search engines. Hopefully, you’ll find one that is the best flight search engine for you.

1. Skyscanner

Skyscanner Logo

Skyscanner started in 2001 and has been a popular flight search engine ever since. More than 100 million people use the search engine each month.

US News and World Report names its mobile app as one of the best. The app works on Android and Apple phones, and I can attest to its ease of use.

Skyscanner provides access to a large selection of flights. It does not charge any fees and doesn’t let travel companies or airlines pay fees to give their flights higher positions.

Skyscanner is easy to use and allows you to filter your search by price, fastest, best, outbound departure time, or inbound departure time. You can also limit the search to certain airlines.

Skyscanner allows you to filter choices by carbon dioxide emissions. It also provides access to hotel bookings and car rentals. Once you’ve made your choice, Skyscanner directs you to a third-party site to complete your booking.

If you have a desire to travel but are flexible on your destination, you can use the site’s everywhere feature to see which destinations have the cheapest flights from your hometown.

Positive reviews say booking generally is smooth and does yield cheap flights. Travel review sites say the site is particularly strong for international flights.

Negative reviews center around customer service issues, such as providing refunds. One reviewer said they were referred to a scam booking partner. Some reviewers also believe the website loads too slowly and has too many ads.

Pros

  • A wide range of airlines and hotels
  • A robust filtering technology
  • “Everywhere” feature
  • Free
  • Both the app and site are easy to use

Cons

  • Glitchy technology that sometimes displays outdated fares
  • Booking partners vary in terms of the level of customer service and reputability

Best For

  • Those flexible on their destination
  • International, especially European flights
  • Those who care about sustainable air travel

See Related: Best Skyscanner Alternatives to Book Travel

2. Momondo

Momondo Logo

Acquired by Priceline in 2017, Momondo was founded in 2006 as a flight price Danish search engine, and several publications have added it to their lists of best flight search engines. You can easily search for prices of flights, hotels, and car rentals on the app and website and compare them across 30 websites. The site also provides information on flight trends.

Momondo has a robust list of filters. You can search by airline, partners, specific airports, and destinations, for example. You can sort by best, cheapest, and quickest.

Momondo also is one of a few flight search engines that includes Southwest airline flights. Once you choose your preferred flight or hotel, the site sends you to a third-party site to complete the booking.

They have an app that works on Apple and Android phones. Reviewers like that the site is free and has no popup advertising. Negative reviewers complain about issues caused by unreputable third parties that people access through their web searches.

Pros

  • Excellent deals on European flights
  • Easy to use
  • Ability to compare prices from 30 travel sites
  • Free
  • Ad-free
  • Robust filtering and sorting technology

Cons

  • Links to third-party sites of different degrees of reputability
  • Does not allow you to book multiple stops
  • Those wanting to earn points with their airline rewards program will do better booking through Kayak or Google Flights
  • Not all prices include baggage fees and other charges

Best for

  • Booking international flights
  • Those who can discern between reputable and non-reputable providers

3. Kayak

Kayak Logo

Kayak is another great cheap flight search engine that allows you to research and book airfare. It allows you to search hundreds of websites simultaneously to find information on hotels, airfares, trains, cruises, rental cars, vacation packages, and apartment and vacation rentals. It also provides information to help you decide the best time to travel and a flight trend predictor.

You can almost always find cheap flights on the Priceline-owned site, which is also known for its price transparency. Kayak is also available as an app for IoS and Android users.

The site has excellent filtering capabilities for its hotel and condo rentals, as well as its flights. Its robust email list provides its subscribers with additional discounts.

The site also offers exclusive deals through its third-party partners. Once you’ve found what you want, the site refers you to third-party providers to book your travel.

Reviewers like the large number of sites Kayak provides access to. Sitejabber’s customers named it a favorite site in 2018.

Some reviewers say it loads a bit too slowly, and they bemoan the inability to book directly on the site. One reviewer expressed disappointment in the customer service received – they seem to be in the minority.

Pros

  • Allows booking of almost every mode of travel
  • Features an excellent price trend predictor
  • Offers particularly good prices for flight and hotel package deals
  • Offers some of the best flight prices for domestic travel

Cons

  • Because the booking is through a third party, it can’t guarantee reliability
  • No loyalty program

Best for

  • Booking package deals
  • Booking national cheap flights
  • Booking various transportation modes

See Related: Kayak.com Review: Is Kayak Really Legit?

4. Going.com

Going.com Logo

Going.com (formerly Scott’s Cheap Flights) isn’t really a flight search engine, but it’s worth the mention.

You don’t enter specific information that the site or app uses to search the Internet to find only the best deals at that moment. Instead, you subscribe to Going.com, which sends flight deals leaving from your preferred airport to your email or text inbox.

You enter the parameters of your deals, such as class, international, or domestic, as well as your favorite airports. You can subscribe for free, but paying for a premium or elite subscription will give you access to airfare deals more quickly. As a subscriber, I can tell you it’s well worth it if you can afford it.

Going.com only uses highly rated airlines and displays only non-stop or single-stop deals. Humans, rather than bots, search for deals.

Most deals are 40 percent to 60 percent off regular prices and expire within a few days. When you click on a deal, you’ll go to a third-party website for more information and booking.

U.S. News and World Report lists the Going.com app as one of the best travel apps out there and I agree; hence it’s sneaking onto this list. Reviewers generally praise the deals they receive from the app or site.

One reviewer who had paid for an Elite membership was unhappy because they mostly received alerts for South American destinations. Reviewers seemed to feel that the premium subscription was worth the $49 annually; however, they felt the Elite was best for frequent travelers or those who lived near a major hub.

Pros

  • Access to daily, mistake, and rare deals that can save hundreds or thousands of dollars
  • Easy to use
  • Uses only highly-rated airlines
  • Keeps you informed of prices all the time rather than only on a specific day

Cons

  • Limited-time deals require you to act quickly
  • You must be flexible to gain the most from the subscription
  • The number of deals you receive will depend on the number of flights and carriers that go into your preferred airport or departure city

Best For

  • Those who have flexible travel dates
  • More expensive subscriptions are better for those who fly frequently and are near a major hub

See Related: Next Vacay vs Going (Scott’s Cheap Flights): What is Better?

5. Skiplagged

Skiplagged Logo

Skiplagged searches for cheap flights, hotels, and car rentals. It is available as an app or on the web and allows you to filter flights based on layover and duration.

It also will notify you if a flight price decreases. It has a rewards program that rewards you based on bookings and on referrals.

Skiplagged is very easy to use, which is a big selling point. You can choose a destination or use the “anywhere” feature if your destination is flexible.

Skiplagged is the only airfare search site that offers the option of hidden city ticketing, which is when you plan to leave the plane at a stopover rather than the final destination. Skiplagged labels these options, “Skiplagged Rate.”

Hidden-city ticketing can often save you money, but you should check your airline’s policy, especially if you hope to earn miles on the flight. Recently, some American Airlines customers were caught “skiplagging” and were banned from the airline for years.

The site claims to have fares the airlines don’t want you to know about, and most reviewers say it does find some of the cheapest flights. Skiplagged does charge a fee for booking, but most customers felt the price discounts warranted the fee.

Most customer reviews report positive experiences; however, one customer found the site confusing – again, this poor soul appears to be in the minority, as I had zero problems figuring it out. Another complained that they were unable to receive a refund for a hotel cancellation when the site claimed they could, so that’s something to keep in mind.

Pros

  • Very cheap flights
  • Hidden-city ticket option
  • Anywhere feature
  • Rewards program

Cons

  • No options for cheap business or first-class tickets
  • Hidden-city options violate some airline policies

Best For

  • Those with flexible travel dates
  • Those who want only prices for the economy fare class
  • Those who can fly without checked luggage

See Related: Top Sites Like Skiplagged | Alternatives to Consider

6. Google Flights

Google Flights Logo

Google Flights is a reliable option, and more often than not, it’s my first choice. It allows you to book airfare, hotels, and vacation rentals, for free, just working from plain ol’ Google.

It has a large selection of flights and is one of the fastest search engines. It is also one of the most efficient flight search engines, allowing you to book flights using your Google account.

Value Penguin labels it the best flight search engine for booking multi-city flights. Google also lets you search flights leaving from various airports with one query. Unfortunately, Google Flights is not yet available as a mobile app.

Google Flights also has a great interface and is one of the easiest airfare search sites to use. Like some other sites, Google Flights has a feature that can show you the lowest-priced destinations from a particular airport, which helps travelers with flexible destinations save money. Once you choose a flight or hotel, you book it with a third party.

Most customers reviewing Google Flights indicated they would recommend it, likely because it’s about as easy as Google to use. One customer posting a review noted that the site was “clean, clear, and powerful” and suggested interfacing it with more sites would be a good improvement. However, one customer complained that by the time she finished booking her flight, the price had doubled from what Google Flights showed, which makes you wonder about their live updates.

Pros

  • Very fast
  • Allows searching for flights departing from several airports simultaneously
  • Can book flights using your Google account
  • Has an anywhere feature

Cons

  • No mobile app
  • May not find the cheapest flight available

Best for

  • Multi-city itineraries
  • People with departure airport flexibility
  • People with destination flexibility

7. Agoda

Agoda Logo

Agoda, owned by the same parent company that owns Kayak, Priceline, and Booking.com, is an online travel agency rather than a flight search engine. Online travel agencies allow you to book flights, hotels, airport transfers, and other aspects of your journey on their website rather than requiring you to go to a third-party site as flight search engines do.

Agoda also allows you to book longer stays, such as a month, at one location and has a proprietary homestay feature similar to Air BnB. It also features a “Daily Deals” page with coupons to make your flight or stay even more affordable.

While I’m not so sure myself, the Jet Setter Diaries, however, says Agoda has the best flight prices. However, many of Agoda’s deals don’t last long, so you should book right away if you see a price you like. Also, many of Agoda’s cheapest flights have long layovers.

Agoda also has access to a large number of hotels, hostels, and homestay options. The site also is not as simple to use as some other flight search engines.

Overall, I think it’s a pretty good engine, and Agoda generally receives good reviews from customers, and Sitejabber named it a Customer Choice winner in 2018. Those who rated Agoda positively found booking hotels to be safe and easy. Negative customer reviews centered around poor customer service, especially when seeking to cancel bookings.

Pros

  • Offers some of the cheapest flights
  • Can book stay and airfare in one place and without being referred to a third party
  • Daily Deals page
  • A diverse array of accommodations, including many hotels, hostels, and homestay options.Can book longer stays and homestays

Cons

  • Flights with the best price disappear quickly
  • Some consumers had concerns about canceling bookings
  • Cheapest flights have long layovers

Best For

  • Finding long-term stay options
  • Booking the cheapest flights if layovers are not a concern

8. CheapOair

CheapOair Logo

CheapOair is another flight search engine that allows you to search for discount airfare, hotels, and car rentals. I’ve recently come across them, and I saved a few bucks on one of my trips to and from Amsterdam.

CheapOair searches among more than 500 airlines and allows you to cancel flights yourself on the site. However, the provider establishes and issues refunds based on the provider’s policy.

CheapOair also sometimes charges a cancellation fee in addition to what the airline charges. It also charges fees for booking on its site.

You can book flights on the site or mobile app or by talking with a travel expert on the phone. CheapOair has an excellent rewards program. You receive points for booking through the app or through using its branded Visa card. You can earn up to seven times the points for booking travel with your CheapOair Visa.

Positive customer reviews praised the helpfulness of travel experts and the ease of booking on the site. Negative reviews complained about the inability to cancel reservations and the incompetence of some travel experts. Google Play and Apple users rated its mobile app 4.7 out of 5, which I think is a pretty fair assessment based on my own review.

Pros

  • Excellent rewards program
  • Highly rated mobile app
  • Allows you to book online or by phone with a human
  • Ability to cancel some reservations online

Cons

  • High booking, cancellation, and other fees
  • Cancellations do not always result in refunds

Best For

  • Frequent travelers who value reward points
  • Those who want to speak with a human before booking

9. Hopper

Hopper Logo

Hopper allows searching and booking only on its free Android or Apple mobile app. It does not have an online site. But it has a rabbit for a logo, so it’s got that going for it.

You can book flights, hotels, rental cars, and homes directly without a third party. Hopper offers exclusive deals and tips.

It also provides a map showing the cheapest departure airports and color codes flights to show the best deals. However, Hopper does not provide a customer service phone number.

Hopper’s key strength is its ability to predict and track flight prices. The site boasts that Hopper can predict future prices with 95 percent accuracy. If you put a flight on your watchlist, the site will notify you when the flight price drops, enabling you to save more on tickets.

The app also is fun and easy to use and made US News and World Reports Top Nine Flight Search Engine list. Hopper also has a rewards program, and they played a part in the Ukraine Refugee Crisis.

Sitejabber says Hopper earned a Customer Choice Award in 2019. Customers praised the notification process that lets them know when prices have fallen. The lack of a customer service phone number was a problem for some customers.

Pros

  • A fun app that makes spotting the cheapest flight easy
  • Airport map showing the cheapest departure airports
  • Ability to predict and track prices
  • Rewards Program

Cons

  • No way to phone customer service
  • Not the best app for booking flights immediately
  • No online booking

Best for

  • Flight price tracking

See Related: Skyscanner vs Hopper: What is the difference?

10. Hotwire

Hotwire Logo

Hotwire launched in 2000 and is now owned by Expedia Group. Originally, it only told you which airline was offering the deal after you paid for it; Now, it has switched to a completely transparent site that now lets you view the carrier when you compare prices.

I used to be a frequent user. Its filtering capabilities are less robust than those on some airfare search engines; however, the site often offers the best prices on last-minute travel by buying seats or hotel rooms that otherwise would go empty.

Hotwire offers particularly good deals on holiday bundles and car rentals. Hotwire also offers free travel insurance and a mobile app. Booking online and with the app is easy. Hotwire also offers a 24-hour cancellation policy.

Customers writing positive reviews praised the ease of booking. They also say it handles issues well. On the other hand, some customers said the site advertised hotel rooms that didn’t exist and offered poor customer service.

Pros

  • Great deals on last-minute travel, bundles, and car rentals
  • Free travel insurance
  • Easy booking online and through the mobile app
  • 24-hour cancellation policy

Cons

  • Less robust filtering features
  • Less useful for advanced bookings

Best For

  • Spontaneous travelers seeking last-minute deals

11. Expedia

Expedia Logo

With more than $70 billion in bookings, Expedia is one of the most popular flight search engines. It allows you to search for event tickets, as well as flights, hotels, and car rentals. Many of its vacation packages and international flight offerings are especially good deals.

Expedia also has a robust filtering feature and a “Buy Now, Pay Later” option so you can book several months before traveling. It provides travel insurance that can protect you in the event of lost baggage or other mishaps, including those occurring with car rentals and cruises. Expedia also has a popular mobile app.

Positive reviews praised the ease of booking. Negative customer reviews complained of double-booking and advertisements they felt were “bait and switch.” They also complained of poor customer service, which I’ll admit, I’ve run into a couple of times.

One thing about Expedia that no one could possibly complain about is the voice of Ewan McGregor in their current ad campaign. Swoon.

Pros

  • Good rates on vacation packages
  • Good prices on international flights
  • Easy to use

Cons

  • Double booking
  • Bookings turning out differently than expected
  • Poor customer service

Best For

  • Those booking vacation package deals

See Related: Best Apps and Sites Like Expedia to Find Cheap Flights

12. Travelocity

Travelocity Logo

Travelocity is also part of the Expedia Group and provides access to flights, hotels, cars, and other travel options. Its differentiating factor is its price match promise. While many other flight search engines offer a price guarantee that matches a lower fare on another site, Travelocity goes a step further by also giving you $50.

Travelocity also offers great discounts. For example, you can grab a 15% discount on your first booking by downloading the mobile app. Mobile app users also gain access to additional special discounts.

Travelocity also includes a range of travel services, such as insurance, concert tickets, and airport transfers. The site and app are easy to use, and most reviews seem to reflect this.

One positive customer review I saw praised the service given when issues arose with a hotel booking. Another praised a flawless experience in obtaining concert tickets. But it’s not perfect.

Negative customer reviews typically center around the inability to receive refunds for flights that airlines canceled or to use credits from previously canceled flights. They also include some issues with credit cards being billed for more than the customer expected.

Pros

  • Offers access to good discounts, especially on the mobile app
  • Price match promise
  • Ease of use

Cons

  • Lack of transparency regarding cancellation policies
  • The uneven quality of customer service

Best For

  • Those who are sure of their flight plans and want to save money using a mobile app

See Related: Best Ways to Get Cheap Flight Alerts

13. Orbitz

Orbitz Logo

Orbitz is another member of the Expedia Group and provides access to the same good deals as others in the group. The Orbucks rewards program is excellent and lets you earn 1 percent to 4 percent in Orbucks through airline bookings; however, you can’t earn points through car rentals, cruises, and recreational activities.

You can apply the Orbucks to prepaid hotel bookings. You can also double dip by also earning frequent flyer miles through your airlines.

Primarily known for car rentals, Orbitz also offers bundles that allow you to make multi-city bookings in one transaction while also saving money. Most of its bookings are flexible, meaning you won’t have cancellation fees. However, customers sometimes receive a travel credit rather than a refund.

It’s worth noting that Orbitz also has a mobile app for Android and I-phone users. Pretty handy if you’re on the go and especially if you are using it for car rentals too.

Orbitz was a 2018 Customer’s Choice on Sitejabber. Customers praise the ability to receive refunds for cancellations easily, the ease and efficiency of the site and app, and good customer service.

Negative reviews say customer service is poor and that you need to carefully read the fine print before booking to avoid surprises if you need to cancel. An Australian customer complained that she had to pay more than she expected because the prices quoted for her trip within Australia were in US dollars rather than Australian.

Pros

  • Excellent loyalty program
  • Most reservations are flexible, although you need to read the fine print to be sure
  • Ease of use

Cons

  • Rewards points expire after 12 months
  • Cancellations are often for credits to be used later rather than cash

Best for

  • Frequent travelers who will book on the site often

14. Priceline

Priceline Logo

Booking Holdings, which also owns Kayak, also owns Priceline. Priceline is an online travel agency rather than a flight search engine. You can search for various travel services with Priceline, which offers a “Bundle and Save” option that saves you more.

Priceline also offers Express Deals that can save you up to 60 percent on hotel stays. It also has mobile-exclusive hotel deals. Many Priceline deals are nonrefundable, so you’ll need to be sure of your travel plans before booking.

Priceline also has a loyalty program. Customers who also have a Priceline Visa card can earn points the fastest. Priceline also offers a price match guarantee.

One “very satisfied” customer praised a phone service agent who helped her book a multi-city trip. Several other customers reported good experiences with booking agents.

However, I did find one dissatisfied customer who said the customer service was “the worst.” Yeesh. Some customers also were unhappy that they couldn’t receive a refund for a canceled booking, which is a noticeable red flag.

Pros

  • Great deals for bundled services
  • Great hotel deals, especially for mobile app users
  • Loyalty program
  • Price match guarantee

Cons

  • Many bookings are non-refundable
  • The website doesn’t offer as good a deals as the app
  • A confusing website that loads slowly

Best for

  • Those with concrete travel plans who want to book multiple services at once
  • Mobile users

See Related: Must-Know Pieces of Advice for Booking Flights Online

15. Booking.com

Booking.com Logo

We’re going to finish up strong! Booking.com is a comprehensive online flight search engine website and mobile app that allows you to book everything from a cheap flight to a train ticket to a restaurant reservation.

It was originally launched in 1996 as a hotel booking site, and one strength is its connections with boutique and local hotels and bed and breakfasts. The site also features extensive reviews from guests who have stayed at each place of lodging.

Booking.com also offers daily deals to increase your savings. Booking.com is one of my top three resources for booking accommodations, but it’s also pretty handy for finding and booking cheap flights.

Booking.com, like most search engines, does not control cancellation or refund properties. The site’s partners make these decisions. Most partners offer pretty liberal cancellation policies; however, you should read the fine print before booking. Booking.com is transparent about each property’s policies.

It also has a “Genuis” loyalty program that offers additional discounts and other benefits. One of the downsides to Booking.com is its lack of comparison pricing. To find out whether you’re getting the best deals, you’ll need to compare prices yourself.

Positive customer reviews praise its customer service and short wait times on the customer service line. Some customers say they had to wait a long time for a customer service representative.

Most of the negative customer reviews complain about being unable to cancel their hotel bookings. Honestly, I don’t use it often for booking flights, but I haven’t come across any horror stories.

Pros

  • Access to big and small hotels, rentals, and bed and breakfasts
  • On-app reviews to help you choose your hotel
  • Access to tours, tickets, and excursions
  • Loyalty program
  • No fees or subscriptions required
  • Easy-to-use website

Cons

  • Lack of comparison pricing
  • Properties have different cancellation policies
  • Uneven customer service quality
  • The website can get a little slow and clunky

Best for

  • Those who like the experience of staying in boutique hotels
  • Those who want to book all aspects of their trip on one app or website

Top Flight Search Engines

Flight Search Engine Pros Cons
Google Flights User-friendly interface, easy to use, offers a wide range of search options and filters Limited international coverage, does not show all airlines
Kayak Comprehensive search options, includes budget airlines, price alerts, and flexible dates Some users report inaccurate prices, can be overwhelming for some users
Skyscanner Offers a wide range of search options, includes budget airlines, price alerts, and flexible dates Some users report inaccurate prices, can be overwhelming for some users
Expedia User-friendly interface, offers a wide range of search options and filters, includes package deals Limited international coverage, some users report inaccurate prices
Momondo Offers a wide range of search options, includes budget airlines, price alerts, and flexible dates, includes a “flight insight” tool Some users report inaccurate prices, can be overwhelming for some users
Hopper Offers price predictions and alerts, includes flexible dates, user-friendly interface Limited international coverage, does not show all airlines
CheapOair Offers a wide range of search options, includes budget airlines, price alerts, and flexible dates, includes package deals Some users report inaccurate prices, can be overwhelming for some users
Orbitz User-friendly interface, offers a wide range of search options and filters, includes package deals Limited international coverage, some users report inaccurate prices

Related Resources

Kyle Kroeger
WRITTEN BY

Kyle Kroeger

Kyle Kroeger is the Founder and Owner of ViaTravelers.com. He is a full-time traveler and entrepreneur. Kyle started ViaTravelers.com to help travelers experience a fully immersive cultural experience as he did initially living in Italy. He's a converted finance nerd and Excel jockey turned world wanderer (and may try to get lost on purpose). After visiting 12 countries and 13 national parks in a year, he was devoted to creating and telling stories like he'd heard.

Plus, after spending more time on airplanes and packing, he's learned some incredible travel hacks over time as he earned over 1 million Chase Ultimate Rewards points in under a year, helping him maximize experiences as much as possible to discover the true meaning of travel.

He loves listening to local stories from around the world and sharing his experiences traveling the globe. He loves travel so much that he moved from his hometown of Minneapolis to Amsterdam with his small family to travel Europe full-time. Read more about his portfolio of work.