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Skyscanner vs Hopper: What is the difference?

The ease of finding the best flights has become increasingly easy in recent years, thanks to search engines such as Skyscanner and Hopper.

Skyscanner vs Hopper? If you’ve been searching for the best cheap flight app out there, you’ve surely come across these two. Read on to find out what the difference is between Skyscanner and Hopper and when to use them.

What are Skyscanner and Hopper?

Skyscanner Logo

Flight Booking Apps

Skyscanner and Hopper are both travel search engines, meaning they can be used by travelers to search through the vast amount of trip options for the best deals. Both apps have options to search for flights, rental cars, and hotels, but most users come to these platforms as their cheap flight finders.

This article will look at the two based on being apps for flight booking. The main advantage of using a travel search engine like Skyscanner and Hopper is definitely the ability to search nearly every airline with one search, rather than go to each carrier’s site individually.

They have some commonalities in their user-friendliness, ability to find the best price, and easy-to-understand layout; but also several differences. Let’s look into all of these in-depth.

Apps and Websites for Cheap Flights

Hopper Logo

The first thing you may notice when comparing Skyscanner and Hopper is where you actually go to use them. Skyscanner has a classic website version that functions on your desktop, as well as a mobile application that you can download to your smartphone.

You, therefore, have the convenient option of booking flights from the palm of your hand or perhaps using a computer for more in-depth trip planning and travel research.

On the other hand, Hopper is only functional for finding the best deal on an app. While they do have a website that can be accessed from your desktop, it is mainly there just to prompt you to download the app.

You can, however, use the desktop site to search for hotels. Therefore, Hopper will only be useful for smartphone-equipped travelers.

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Booking a Flight

While both Skyscanner and Hopper allow you to search for the cheapest flights, purchasing your ticket is not necessarily done on the same platform.

Skyscanner will generate various flight options based on your search criteria. Once you choose your preferred routing, you will be presented with as few as one to as many as more than 20 ‘providers’ who can actually sell you the ticket.

These providers can include the airline’s own website, online travel agencies you may recognize such as Expedia or Orbitz, or perhaps some less recognizable ones that you aren’t familiar with.

In this way, Skyscanner is a search engine similar to Google Flights. By clicking on your preferred provider, you will be redirected to the site that you choose to make the final purchase, taking you away from Skyscanner.

Remember that it is important to understand who you are buying your ticket from: determine if they have an acceptable reputation, research the terms and conditions of purchasing from them, and assure yourself that you will be able to contact them for help if you run into trouble.

Contrarily, Hopper does not operate with the same marketplace model as Skyscanner. When booking a flight with Hopper, you will be on their site from the beginning until the end.

Hopper is an online travel agency itself, meaning that it can issue you airline tickets without the need of sending you to a third-party provider.

And while they may deal with a third party on their end, you will be dealing with them as a customer. Hopper will also, therefore, offer you add-ons like travel insurance, fare-holding options, and more; which we will discuss later.

When booking with Hopper, you will be dealing with them directly for future changes or if anything goes wrong during your trip. They have a live chat directly on the app to put you in touch with an agent for assistance, and many automated features for things like rebooking after a missed connection. Read our full Hopper review for more details on customer service and booking options.

See Related: Scott’s Cheap Flights Review

Skyscanner vs. Hopper: Tools, Functions, and Features

Price Alert on Skyscanner
Price Alert Example on Skyscanner

Cheapest Flights Finder Technology & Price Prediction

While both Skyscanner and Hopper are wonderful in that they search huge numbers of airlines for the cheapest tickets, they each have different ways of searching and displaying the cheapest flight.

One advantage of using Skyscanner’s app or website for finding the best deal is the Search Everywhere feature. For those with general wanderlust and no particular destination in mind, this is an excellent money-saving technique and finder of trip inspiration.

To perform a flight search, simply enter your departure airport (plus, check the box to search others nearby your home airport, if you are flexible); and Skyscanner will offer to search ‘Everywhere’ to give you some travel inspiration.

You can even search for more flexible dates – go ahead, search an entire month if you please! Your search results will return a list, in the order of least expensive to most, of destination countries with their flight prices.

You can then click on each country to see the various destination cities and more specific flight pricing for each of them. The site will also display additional helpful information such as the number of stops required, hotel pricing (with offers available, if you want to book), and destination guides.

Hopper also offers a way to find the cheapest flights, although a bit differently. While you won’t find an Everywhere destination option, those who know where they want to go will appreciate the color-coded calendar helping you find the least expensive dates to travel.

Immediately upon entering your departure and arrival airports, the app will return a simplified calendar from now through the next 11 months, with each day represented by a color.

The green squares represent the cheapest travel days, while yellow represents moderate, red expensive, and scarlet the maximum. The prices you can expect to pay for each color are also shown. This is an excellent tool to be sure that you find the cheapest price.

Plus, Hopper goes even a bit further than that. Once you select specific dates, the next page displays their Price Prediction for your trip. Thanks to their smart system, you will get advice to either wait because they expect prices to drop, purchase soon because prices are expected to go up, or feel free to wait until a certain date that they have determined prices will increase.

Their technology can even tell you how much they expect the fare to increase, approximately or exactly when, and how long you have until then. Talk about some flight-psychic technology!

See Related: What is a Hacked Fare?

Visualizing and Filtering Your Options

Skyscanner Coronavirus Map
Skyscanner Coronavirus Map

Now that you have used these cheap flight finder apps to determine the specifics, such as your destination and dates, your next step would naturally be to choose the actual flights to get you there.

Both Skyscanner and Hopper offer nice and clean visualizations of these, with helpful tools to sort and filter, but they each do it a bit differently.

By default, Skyscanner will present a list of flights in the order they have determined to be best. Their software considers price, of course, but also takes into account things like the number of stops and speed of arrival.

You can switch this to see only the cheapest flights first, in case you don’t mind very long connection times; or alternatively see the fastest flights on top, if direct flights are what’s most important to you.

Skyscanner has plenty of more specific filters to utilize if you are looking for a particular type of flight. You can select the exact number(s) of stops you would like, the range of departure and arrival times, duration of travel, and select from specific airlines and alliances.

They even have COVID-19 Safety Ratings which can be used to filter, as well as an option to only see the ‘greenest’ flights with the least carbon dioxide emissions. These should make it easy for even the most demanding flier to select a flight!

On Hopper, once you have selected your dates from their color calendar, the app similarly displays your flight options in an order that its software has determined to be best based on price and duration. You are, of course, welcome to switch the sorting based on price, stops, duration, and departure or arrival time.

Hopper Booking Map
Example of the Hopper Booking Map

You will find very similar specifications that can be filtered for those found in Skyscanner: number of stops, departure & arrival time range, and airlines. Notably, flights cannot be filtered by airline alliance, nor will you find ratings for COVID-19 safety or eco-friendliness.

However, you do have other interesting options such as seeing basic fares that are more restrictive or seeing only options with $0 change fees.

Furthermore, you may shift through the various fare classes with ease on Hopper, seeing results from standard economy through luxurious first or business class; while on Skyscanner, a new search would be required.

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Get Rewarded for Your Flight Bookings

One area in which Hopper is unique is its rewards program, which can get you discounts on your trip, even after you’ve already used the app to find the best deals.

The app automatically gives you a Hopper Wallet, which can accumulate (the delightfully named) Carrot Cash. Fairly often, Hopper will give you a bit of Carrot Cash for your Hopper Wallet (which should have been called the Bunny Money Bank) just for downloading the app!

Carrot Cash can be used to book flights or hotel bookings, and certain offers may only be good for one or the other. As mentioned before, flights booked on Hopper are booked directly on the app without directing you to the airline’s site or a third-party travel agency.

Every time you book with Hopper, you will be rewarded with Carrot Cash based on the size of your purchase. Using it is simple: a search for flights will automatically apply your Carrot Cash and show you the discounted price. 

One major note to make is the questionability of this ‘discount’. On a few test searches I tried, both the ‘original’ price and the ‘discounted’ price using my Carrot Cash were higher than I could find directly from the airlines.

If consistently true, this would seemingly be a disappointing marketing technique; however, it would be pretty tough to determine if this is the case every time. Our advice would be to use caution when interpreting these discounts and always do your research.

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Add-Ons Available

Another unique aspect that applies to Hopper is the range of add-ons available, which once again stems from the fact that, unlike Skyscanner, Hopper is an online travel agency

Now that you’ve determined your destination, found the cheapest dates, and narrowed down your flights based on your needs, you are ready to book the one that suits your trip most. But Hopper has a few more offers to make. Before you get to the actual booking of the flight, you will be prompted with the option to add a few extra services based on your trip. 

Hopper offers a Missed Connection Guarantee, which for a small fee, offers some protection in case one of your flights arrives late and causes you to miss the next one. They advertise hassle-free and immediate rebooking directly on their app on the next available flight up to $1,000 free of charge, or the option to have a refund to your Hopper Wallet if you are unsatisfied. 

It is important to note that an airline must provide you with nearly the same assistance for free, in case a delay in your first flight causes you to miss your second. You will always be placed on the next available departure, as long as your connection was booked on a single ticket.

Therefore, check your airline’s policy and weigh up the pros and cons when adding this option.  You can also choose to add their Instant Travel Refund Promise, which advertises the ability to cancel your ticket for an 80% or 100% refund, depending on which level of protection you choose.

This refund may be in cash or to your Hopper Wallet. Finally, a Flight Change Guarantee may be an option for a fee if you want to keep your ticket flexible in terms of origin, destination, or dates.

Skyscanner, on the other hand, does not offer these add-ons. This is due to the fact that your ticket will be issued by one of their partner providers, with Skyscanner simply acting as the marketplace where you found the deal at. Airlines and travel agencies may offer you similar add-ons that Hopper does once you arrive at their booking site.

See Related: World Nomads Insurance Review

What do users say about Skyscanner vs. Hopper?

It’s always helpful to hear what other travelers have to say about a product, especially when it comes to booking sites. Don’t hesitate to read reviews of these cheap flight apps yourself, but we’ve compiled a few notes about what we’ve read from users below!

Skyscanner App Reviews – Summary

Skyscanner App in the Apple App Store

Skyscanner holds a reputable 4.8 out of 5 stars based on almost 370,000 reviews by users on the Apple App Store. Users pointed out that they enjoyed the ability to search so many airlines, the intuitiveness of the system to suggest flights, and the fact that it searched not only airline sites but also online travel agencies such as Expedia and Priceline.

On the other hand, there were of course some negative points that users mentioned. One user recently reported that he was disappointed that the more he searched, the more the prices went up.

Another said that his favorite airline wasn’t being shown for some reason. Finally, there were several reviews that reported being able to find better prices elsewhere.

Hopper App Reviews – Summary

Hopper App in the Apple App Store

Hopper similarly boasts 4.8 out of 5 stars on the Apple App Store, based on nearly 700,000 reviews. The more positive reviews were happy with the ease of searching, the many flight options that their searches returned, and the good prices.

However, it was interesting to see that many of the most recent reviews of Hopper were very negative, which raises some questions. Many users cautioned others to not book their flights on the app, as they had less than enjoyable experiences trying to reach customer service and finding resolutions to issues.

Others said that they have been waiting for a long time for a refund on canceled flights. A common theme was that users enjoyed finding good deals on this app, but recommend going directly to the airline to get their ticket for cheaper.

See Related: Best Websites for Cheap Flights and Hotels

Accuracy and Safety 

Data Privacy

Skyscanner Privacy Policy
Skyscanner Data Privacy Policy

Reading the Terms and Conditions of an app may not be the first thing on your mind. I know it’s certainly not for me! However, it is important to ensure that the data you transmit and the information you share are safe when using apps to find cheap flights, like Skyscanner and Hopper.

You may be relieved to notice that upon downloading Skyscanner, your phone will not prompt you with requests such as allowing push notifications, using your location, or tracking you.

And being that you don’t actually complete your airline booking transaction on their app but instead go to a provider’s site, your payment information won’t be communicated with or stored with Skyscanner.

When it comes to Skyscanner, note that by default, the app will “use your app data to analyze and enhance your travel planning”, as well as provide personalized offers that they deem relevant to you.

If it bothers you when it feels like a website or app is ‘targeting’ you, don’t hesitate to go to your settings and turn these functions off. As for Hopper, you will be prompted after downloading to allow push notifications, the use of your location, and if you will allow the app to track your use of it. Luckily, declining these options should not impact your experience in using the app if they bother you.

Hopper does make it clear in their Privacy Policy that they will collect data such as the information you provide in your account and bookings, data from your device, information on your location, and cookies.

It states that this information is collected in order to personalize your experience and best communicate with you. They also make a point to note that they will never sell your data to anyone, only provide it to required third parties, and work very hard to protect it.

Flight Prices: Accuracy

Knowing that the price that a search returns is actually what you will pay is essential when using an app like this. Therefore, it is important to realize that both Skyscanner and Hopper may not necessarily display actual prices at the time of your search; however, from my experience, they are usually accurate.

On Skyscanner, when using the Search Everywhere function to see prices for various countries and airports, the first sets of prices that you see are actually the lowest historical prices that Skyscanner has found in recent days. It is not guaranteed that you will find the exact deal that you see, but it can usually be trusted to a good extent.

If you search for actual destination airports on Skyscanner, you will see the lowest price that they were able to find from their third-party ticketing providers. There is always a chance that once you get to the provider’s site, the price may have changed.

Hopper will show you the lowest price found among all airlines searched before they show you actual flight options, at which point you may prefer a more expensive flight.

However, being that Hopper sells you the ticket, the price you see for the flight should always be the price you are asked to pay.  Note that in my experimentation with the Hopper, I too was able to find cheaper prices directly with the airline. Other users have pointed out similar findings in their reviews of the app. It is always important to do thorough research to be sure you have found the cheapest flight for your trip.

Protection in case something goes wrong

All travelers know that things may certainly go wrong when it comes to flights: delays, cancellations, schedule changes, missed connections…the list goes on.

Often, these issues necessitate contacting the airline or service that issued your ticket. Therefore, you should ensure this will be possible and easy when you need it the most! As mentioned, you will deal with Hopper directly for any after-purchase inquiries.

They offer an in-app chat with travel agents and offer add-on services such as flexible ticketing and travel insurance for a fee, which allow trip maintenance from within the app. Some user reviews mentioned having issues with this and contacting Hopper for flight problems.

Skyscanner may have helped you find the cheapest flight tickets, but they won’t be helping you through cancellations or other problems, as they did not actually sell you anything!

For any issues arising during your trip, contact the provider with who you made your purchase. Experiences with these can vary, based on who you are dealing with. Do some research or read up on ViaTravelers’ reviews before purchasing anything!

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