The Best Sites For Finding Cheap Flights

Last updated: March 18, 2019

The best sites for finding cheap flightsLet’s face it, trying to find a good deal on airfare can be intimidating!

There are so many sites to look at – from airline sites, to online travel agencies, to third party comparison services. Ultimately, you’re left wondering if you're getting the best price. And that's not a good feeling.

The best place to start is always with comparison websites that don’t actually let you book directly. This is because not only do they have access to the same inventory as the others, but they also partner with a wide array of online travel agencies to ensure you get the absolute lowest price.

In fact, most sites should have very similar prices and inventory because they all use a small shared set of backend systems. Therefore, the biggest savings come when you either find an interesting booking that is a mish-mash of multiple airlines or one of the online travel agencies decides to get aggressive on their pricing and pass on some of their usual profit to you.

Here's a quick peek of our results

Site Trip 1
(St. John - Vancouver)
Trip 2
(Toronto - Sydney)
Trip 3
(Calgary - Paris)
Momondo $798 $1,820 $973
Cheapflights $798 $1,821 $992
Kayak $798 $1,821 $994
Google Flights $702 $2,093 $935
Skiplagged $701 $1,608 $933
Farecompare $889 $1,721 $971
Skyscanner $822 $1,907 $1,191
Expedia $1,367 $1,599 $1,199
Hipmunk None $1,845 None

Top Airfare Comparison Websites

1) momondo

momondo.jpg

Big Advantages:

  • Always had some of the lowest prices in my tests.
  • Awesome bar that shows estimated prices  by date, so you can quickly find nearby dates with better prices.
  • Quickly sort by Cheapest, Quickest, and Best (value), which are all very common things people are looking for with flights.
  • Very nice looking flight details popup that is easy to read and digest.
  • Consistently returns more search results than most other sites.
  • Can choose flights by Airline Alliance if you're looking to earn rewards in a particular frequent flyer program.
  • Nearby airports listed in filters and checkbox to show nearby airports directly in search results.
  • Search form stays visible while you scroll through results.
  • Filters prominently displayed so you can easily find the flight you want.
  • Can make your choice of connecting airports in the filters.

Not So Good:

  • Uses some online travel agencies that have weird restrictions for getting the advertised fare (like having to pay in an obscure way).

Prices:

  • Saint John (YSJ) to Vancouver (YVR): $798
  • Toronto (YYZ) to Sydney (SYD): $1,820
  • Calgary (YYC) to Paris (CDG): $978

Related: Travel In Heaven Instead Of Hell

2) Cheapflights

cheapflights.jpg

Big Advantages:

  • Always had some of the lowest prices in my tests.
  • Easy-to-use date selection calendar.
  • Displays the legroom and other information directly in the flight details.
  • Big list of alternative suppliers so you can choose where you want to book.
  • Quickly sort by cheapest, quickest, take-off times, and landing times, which are all very common things people are looking for with flights.
  • Very nice looking flight details popup that is easy to read and digest.
  • Nearby airports listed in filters.
  • Ability to search by Alliance if you're looking for specific reward programs.
  • "Our Advice" section tells you if they think prices will fall soon.

Not So Good:

  • Filters are set through a popup instead of directly on the search results page.

Prices:

  • Saint John (YSJ) to Vancouver (YVR): $798
  • Toronto (YYZ) to Sydney (SYD): $1,821
  • Calgary (YYC) to Paris (CDG): $994

Related: The Best Hotel Deals I’ve Ever Had

3) KAYAK

kayak.jpg

Big Advantages:

  • Competitive prices, but not always the lowest.
  • "Fee Assistant" which lest you filter by the number of allowed bags.
  • Nearby airports listed in filters and checkbox to show nearby airports directly in search results.
  • Flight details include airplane type which can be of use for frequent travellers who want to target a specific plane.
  • Flight details can be displayed inline in the search results, which can be a blessing and a curse.
  • Can filter out long or inconvenient layovers and certain types of aircraft in advanced search filters.
  • "Our Advice" section tells you if they think prices will fall soon.

Not So Good:

  • Sometimes had out of date prices.
  • Lots of sort options but not very prominently displayed.
  • Automatically sorted by "Recommended" instead of "Cheapest."

Prices:

  • Saint John (YSJ) to Vancouver (YVR): $798
  • Toronto (YYZ) to Sydney (SYD): $1,821
  • Calgary (YYC) to Paris (CDG): $994

Related: Best Travel Credit Cards In Canada

4) Google Flights

googleflights.jpg

Big Advantages:

  • Amazing flight map that shows prices to any destination you might be interested in. Great for those traveling for vacation and that are open to different destinations.
  • Lots of flight information displayed in flight details like propeller plane warnings, in-seat power options, Wi-Fi availability, and video entertainment options.
  • Great set of filters that lets you choose Airline Alliances and Connecting Airports in addition to the usual Stops and Times.
  • Very simple interface that is easy to use.
  • Fastest search by far.
  • Can show results in a variety of different ways, including list, date grid, and price graph.
  • Shows if the current prices are more expensive than usual, cheaper than usual, or typical.

Not So Good:

  • Prices often seem to be either out of date or a little bit higher than other sites because of lack of partners.
  • Sometimes they ask you to book directly with the airline by calling them, meaning you can’t book the fare online.
  • No apps at all.
  • Doesn't display the amount of results it found.

Prices:

  • Saint John (YSJ) to Vancouver (YVR): $922
  • Toronto (YYZ) to Sydney (SYD): $1973
  • Calgary (YYC) to Paris (CDG): $1422

5) skiplagged

skiplagged.jpg

Big Advantages:

  • Awesome line graph that shows flight prices 3 months into the future for the same itinerary you’ve chosen.
  • Creative routings that can both save you money or increase your reward miles earned in exchange for more connections and longer travel times.
  • Easy option to sort by Cost, Duration, and number of Legs.
  • Flight prices update on the fly as you adjust routes and dates.
  • Visual representation of your trip and its various layovers.
  • Can filter by layover city.

Not So Good:

  • No choice to see prices from nearby airports.
  • Just redirected me to Priceline when it was time to book, but didn’t search for the flight automatically. It didn’t even have flights selected by default when I arrived there.
  • Often have to book departing and return flights separately which is really clunky.
  • Cheapest priced tickets are usually incredibly inefficient lengthy routes with extra stopovers. That would be ok, but often the prices are still higher than other sites.
  • Long transfer time to airline site.
  • Doesn't display how many results it found.

Prices:

  • Saint John (YSJ) to Vancouver (YVR): $701
  • Toronto (YYZ) to Sydney (SYD): $1,608
  • Calgary (YYC) to Paris (CDG): $933

6) farecompare

farecompare.jpg

Big Advantages:

  • Competitive prices.
  • Can make your choice of connecting airports in the filters.
  • Ability to group flights by Price, Stops, Airline, and Departure Time.
  • Displays cheapest price by airline.
  • Ability to see alternate dates and airports directly in search.

Not So Good:

  • Confusing user interface.
  • Automatically included nearby airports and dates, giving confusing results.
  • Prices in USD by default.

Prices:

  • Saint John (YSJ) to Vancouver (YVR): $889
  • Toronto (YYZ) to Sydney (SYD): $1,721
  • Calgary (YYC) to Paris (CDG): $971

Related: Lost Luggage: How To Minimize Your Losses

7) skyscanner

skyscanner.jpg

Big Advantages:

  • Ability to change dates forward or backward at the click of a button.
  • Filters prominently displayed so you can easily find the flight you want.
  • Add nearby airports to departing or return flights using checkboxes.
  • Dropdown to sort by Price, Trip Time, Departure Time, Stopovers, and Airline.
  • Quick list of recent searches for easy retrieval.

Not So Good:

  • User interface is starting to show its age but still really good.
  • Sometimes had out of date prices.

Prices:

  • Saint John (YSJ) to Vancouver (YVR): $882
  • Toronto (YYZ) to Sydney (SYD): $1,907
  • Calgary (YYC) to Paris (CDG): $1,191

8) Expedia

expedia.jpg

Expedia is being included here for comparison's sake due to its popularity. They are an online travel agency and therefore aren’t willing to display prices from other agencies. Their site does have an impressive set of options and competitive prices but you won’t typically find the best fare here.

Prices:

  • Saint John (YSJ) to Vancouver (YVR): $1,367
  • Toronto (YYZ) to Sydney (SYD): $1,599
  • Calgary (YYC) to Paris (CDG): $1,199

9) hipmunk

hipmunk.jpg

Big Advantages:

  • Visual search results that show flight durations and departure times as a time graph.
  • Can select departure and return flights separately and you see the impact different return flights have on price as you’re doing it.
  • Flight details include legroom, meal, wifi, and more.
  • Quick list of recent searches for easy retrieval without having to create an account.
  • Easy sort buttons for searching by Agony (value), Price, Duration, Takeoff, and Landing.
  • Can choose flights by Airline Alliance if you are looking to earn rewards in a particular frequent flyer program.
  • Can display the mileage you'd earn on the flight with specific airline programs.

Not So Good:

  • Didn't find results for 2 of my searches.
  • Generally high prices compared to others.
  • Filters are easy to use but somewhat limited.
  • Sometimes had out of date prices.

Prices:

  • Saint John (YSJ) to Vancouver (YVR): None found
  • Toronto (YYZ) to Sydney (SYD): $1,845
  • Calgary (YYC) to Paris (CDG): None found

Common Features

Most of these sites offer a core set of features that everyone has come to expect when researching airfare. Unless otherwise mentioned, they all had:

  • Great filters.
  • Up to date prices.
  • Easy to use calendar.
  • Price drop notifications.
  • Apps for mobile devices.
  • Multiple booking partners.
  • Easily swap between dates.
  • Country and currency selection option.

How Ranking Were Determined

Price was the most important factor in determining the rankings. If prices were nearly identical, then I also considered the accuracy of prices listed along with ease of use and number of useful features each site had.

Momondo really won in a landslide on all accounts because they always had the lowest accurate prices and their feature and usability are unmatched by their competitors.

Where Do You Search?

What is your go to place for finding your next airfare? Which one of these websites do you like best?

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Editorial Disclaimer: The content here reflects the author's opinion alone, and is not endorsed or sponsored by a bank, credit card issuer, rewards program or other entity.

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Comments

gus
gus's picture

I try to search for a round trip YUL - SSA 7 dec - 29 march in momondo

I have pay 939 CAD tx included

the site fares was in the order of 1300 CAD and was incapable of find any flight. I use cheapoair.ca for that and have lower price than the airline ( air canada) .

Priceline give me a slight better price but when I went to book it they say we can't fInd it.

I use to this similar travel every year, and every year the best price it's with a different airline.

Have you already try the bet your own price on priceline? do you know if that work?

Thanks

December 04, 2015 @ 4:42 am
Stephen Weyman
Stephen Weyman's picture

I've used Priceline extensively for booking hotels but not so much for flights. Booking a flight is more complicated and important than booking a hotel, so I'm more hesitant to use the Name Your Own Price service for flights although I am interested in trying it sometime.

From what I've read, discounts aren't nearly as high on flights booked this way and it may not be worth the added restrictions to do it. Let me know if you try it and how you make out.

December 04, 2015 @ 2:55 pm
Nick
Nick's picture

The best site by far and it is dedicated to travel deals is YVRdeals.com

Just like this is the best place for credit car information

October 22, 2016 @ 6:03 pm
Stephen Weyman
Stephen Weyman's picture

For sure - that's a great site. Those are for special sales and deals - this article is geared towards finding the best price on a particular day/time/route.

October 24, 2016 @ 1:12 pm
Robyn
Robyn's picture

I've been using ambitioustravel.com for flight deals and can't recommend them enough!

February 21, 2017 @ 4:59 pm
L.Scott
L.Scott's picture

FWIW, I've perused the aggregator sites and true, some good, some not so, based on the speed, features, results, etc.
In the end, I have ended up booking directly with Porter, AC, KLM or AF at either same price as the "cheap sites" or only a smidgen more. (and sometimes less!)
Seems that I get that one-on-one personal contact and don't have to deal with a middleman.

Another twist is that sites such as iTravel2000, Red Tag, Travel Nation Canada do not have the option to search beyond Economy. (this may have changed recently)

That being said, if you find the destination, flight, time, date combo that works, ring up the site call centre as they have a backdoor into the airline rez systems to get the details on that Prem Econ or Biz seat you crave.
Or just go the airline in the first place and earn some goodwill brownie points with them.

July 25, 2017 @ 6:52 pm
Terri
Terri 's picture

Do you have experience with ita matrix? When I see a good sale, I use it to see what days are better. It also gives the option of looking at nearby airports. So when I go to Europe, I look for an initial destination and another one to return from.

Interested in knowing your thoughts on it.

August 04, 2017 @ 1:06 am
Hank's picture

I recently subscribed to canadianflightdeals.com and am a premium member over there. The guy has a newsletter and he sends out great deals whenever he can find them (pretty often). I would check that out if you don't have time to search for them yourself.

They seem to start at 40% off of a standard rate, which is a great deal, but some deals are even better. I'm not sure what sites he uses or what he has set up on the backend, but whatever it is it works.

August 30, 2017 @ 10:31 am
L.Scott
L.Scott's picture

Good day Mr. W.
As a follow up to my comments of last year, I revisited this topic and as of today, I ran my parameters through each of the sites listed. Being almost 3 years after your trials, I expected things to change and my observations may reflect that.

Based on my input of: YYZ > BRS - 06/12/18 > 06/17/18 - 1 Adult - Prem. Econ. - 1 stopover - <4 hrs layover, I found that:

Momondo, was almost $1000 over the fare I did find. (that was Expedia, within your picks, but found cheaper from some other sites I stumbled across, may have been iTravel2000)

Cheapseats, maybe, but very poor flight options.

Skyscanner, again very pricey.

Kayak, was SO slow and plodding along, I just gave up and closed the window. (must have been all the paid adverts that had to load every time you changed a filter. Stupid)

Farecompare did not impress me either.

Hipmunk, had a very nice interface & results display, but the lack of the PE class option (despite it showing in the price results) makes them DOA.

Google Flights, dead easy to use and very fast, but after getting PE flight costs, then without changing any filters, looking at Biz and then going back to PE came back with "No Results". Giving it a second chance found good results and a tad less expensive than the sites listed above.

SkipLagged, very nice results presentation, but again, no option to select level, they assume you are a cheap bugger and will always fly cattle class. So, DOA to me.

Expedia, was not hard to use and the results, once filtered, were price-wise much better than the rest. (interesting how they ask you to select filter options instead of de-select as the other sites do) However, they could not find 1 Stop return flights were the other sites did. But the flight details were very good, showing flight time, layover, aircraft type, class, meals and best of all, confirming baggage allowance and/or charges.

Notably, I was finding results from these sites and others that when running the same data within the actual airline sites, they came back with "we don't fly there" when they apparently do, even if it's with a partner. ie: AirCan, Icelandair, Aer Lingus, BA.....weird.

FWIW, I found it interesting on how many sites use the same software format (all in the same family perhaps?) and the over-hyped CheapOair proved to suck large. Annoying and pricey.

In the end, unless you have copious amounts of time to spend searching, there are SO many sites out there (and some are quite bogus / scammy apparently) you could drive yourself to madness. Ah, the world we live in, yes?

February 27, 2018 @ 7:37 pm
albert c
albert c's picture

Hello,

Congrats on your excellent job !

On another note, I‘d kindly like to add a constructive critique ? I found a little offensive the term “cattle class”. I believe everyone in Canada has the right fly either for business or pleasure, Fortunatly, we are proidly one of the few countries in the world that does not reproduce in a large scale the terrible wwalth concentration that we see in most global south countries and parts of the US. As such, I always proudly reproduce the sentence “the world needs more Caanada”. Calling “cattle class” a place where many fellow Canadians are able to travel is far from being a value of this country, Therefore, as a very proud Canadian-even though I don’t usually travel economic- I take personal ofense with the term ‘cattle class” and I am sure most of my compatriots will agree with me. Prejudiice does not help us to build a better world. Never.

Respecfully,
Albert

April 05, 2019 @ 8:01 pm
Lisa's picture

Great roundup! Thanks for compiling and showcasing the different fares between airline flight search engines!

March 19, 2018 @ 2:00 am
zhu
zhu's picture

try homecityflights

October 16, 2018 @ 12:59 am

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