According to the FAA, 2,587,000 people fly in and out of U.S. airports every single day. That’s a lot of flying going on. And while airports and airlines work toward increasing efficiency in the security lines and offering more in-flight accommodations, there’s still a major sticking point: cost.
If you’re a bargain hunter, you probably love the challenge of finding great flight deals. Fortunately, there are plenty of online tools to help you in your search. Here are some of our favorites.
Google Flights is flexible, easy to use, and packed with features to help you find great deals and itineraries. You simply choose a departure city, an arrival city, and travel dates. Then Google flights will search all the major airlines and list the best prices with an option to book right from there.
But it goes even further than that. You can see if it would be cheaper to fly out of a nearby airport or on alternate dates. There’s also a graph view that shows how the price would change if you took a longer or shorter trip.
And if you’re just poking around to see how much flights are to your dream destinations, you can use the Google Flights “Explore” tool. Simply choose a departing airport and dates, and you can see a map of all of your potential destinations along with the round-trip price.
Most everyone has heard of Kayak, and for good reason. Its booking tools are powerful and simple to use, and it’s perfect for deal hunters. Kayak uses historical data to tell you the best time to book. You can also use it for price alerts!
Similar to Google Flights, Kayak also has an “Explore” tool. The cool part is that you can set a budget for your trip. Choose a departure city, a date range or season, and a budget, and voila! Destinations you might not have considered before will pop up as possibilities. The world truly is your oyster.
Skyscanner scours over 1,200 airlines and travel sites to help you find the best deal. Once you choose a departure city, a destination, and dates, Skyscanner will display the prices for the best, cheapest, and fastest routes, along with the average length of each flight, in an intuitive color-coded setup.
This site is great for setting up price alerts, planning out your route, and exploring potential destinations. But, before you book, check that all airline fees are accounted for. If not, the cost can increase.
Priceline is one of the biggest players in the trip booking business. You can find your flight, rental vehicle, and hotel all in the same place. The flight booking tool is as simple as it gets, lacking some of the bells and whistles of others we’ve mentioned earlier in the post.
However, they do have a price match guarantee. So if you find a cheaper flight somewhere else after booking through Priceline, you may qualify for a 100% refund. Because of this, Priceline is a low-risk, high-reward choice for booking your next flight.
If you’re looking for the absolute lowest price, check out Momondo. They search all the major commercial airlines as well as lesser-known, smaller budget airlines. It takes a little longer than some of the bigger sites to search and the flexible dates features aren’t as robust as some of the others, but Momondo makes up for it in the deals it digs up.
To get the most out of Momondo, try using it in tandem with one of the bigger search engines!
When you hop onto Skiplagged’s website, you’ll see this front and center: “Our flights are so cheap, United sued us… but we won.” As their tagline suggests, the results you can get from Skiplagged don’t disappoint, especially if you’re open to a nontraditional way of booking your travel.
What sets this site apart from the rest is that it shows “hidden-city” flights: itineraries with multiple legs where you don’t take the final leg of the trip. For example, if you want to fly from New York to San Francisco, you would book a flight ticketed for NYC —> San Francisco —> Seattle. The trick is you just get off in San Francisco, skipping the leg to Seattle. You can’t check a bag, and you can only book one way, but you can find savings of up to 80%.
If you have some time before you need to book your next flight, download the Hopper app. You simply search for your trip, and a color-coded calendar helps you pick when the cheapest flights will be available based on historical data. Once you decide on your dates, Hopper will recommend you wait to book or book immediately. If you choose to wait, you’ll get notifications the second the price drops. When you’re ready to book, you can do it right from the app. Easy peasy.
OneTravel searches all airlines, from the giants like United and Delta to the smaller budget airlines like JetBlue and Spirit. Once you search for your trip, OneTravel will display the cheapest flights along with several alternatives for different airlines and dates.
What makes OneTravel different than some of the other tools on this list is that their suggested itineraries mix airlines if it can cut down on your cost. You can also earn reward points, which you can redeem for savings on hotels.
Hipmunk can find you cheap flights, hotels, and even Airbnbs. It searches all the commercial airline websites, as well as big vacation sites like Orbitz and Expedia, to aggregate itineraries and travel bundles that get you the best bang for your buck.
It can also hook up to your calendar to recommend accommodations based on your schedule, and you can chat with them on Slack or Messenger just like you would with a travel agent!
Which site is your favorite for booking cheap flights? Let us know in the comments!