The Best Sites For Finding Cheap Flights

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 are getting the best price and that isn’t a good feeling.

The best place to start is always with comparison websites that don’t actually let you book directly. The reason for 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.

Top Airfare Comparison Websites

1) momondo

momondo.jpg

Big Advantages:

  • Always had the lowest prices in my tests.
  • Awesome date bar that shows estimated prices so you can quickly find nearby dates with better prices.
  • Quick sort by Cheapest, Quickest, and Best (value) which are all very common things people are looking for with flights.
  • Flight rating emoticons that give you an idea of good each ticket is in terms of price and flying time.
  • Amazing “flight insights” that gives you all kinds of information about the cheapest: airline, season, day of week, time of day, airport, and number of days to book in advance.
  • A handy button to display baggage and other fees directly for each listing.
  • 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 are 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): $891
  • Toronto (YYZ) to Sydney (SYD): $1859
  • Calgary (YYC) to Paris (CDG): $1237

Related: Travel In Heaven Instead Of Hell

2) Cheapflights

cheapflights.jpg

Big Advantages:

  • Always had the lowest prices in my tests.
  • Easiest to use date selection calendar I have ever seen.
  • Ability to pin flights to a shortlist at the top of the page.
  • Displays the baggage and other fees directly in the flight details.
  • Big list of alternative suppliers so you can choose where you want to book.
  • Quick sort by Cheapest, Quickest, and Smart 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.
  • Search form stays visible while scrolling through results.
  • Nearby airports listed in filters.

Not So Good:

  • Site was actually broken when I ran my first set of tests so I couldn’t complete a booking after finding a desirable flight. They fixed it the following day.
  • Filters are set through a popup instead of directly on the search results page.
  • Doesn’t list the total number of search results found anywhere.

Prices:

  • Saint John (YSJ) to Vancouver (YVR): $891
  • Toronto (YYZ) to Sydney (SYD): $1859
  • Calgary (YYC) to Paris (CDG): $1237

3) skyscanner

skyscanner.jpg

Big Advantages:

  • Always had the lowest prices in my tests.
  • 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.
  • Big list of alternative suppliers so you can choose where you want to book.
  • 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): $889
  • Toronto (YYZ) to Sydney (SYD): $1859
  • Calgary (YYC) to Paris (CDG): $1237

Related: The Best Hotel Deals I’ve Ever Had

4) KAYAK

kayak.jpg

Big Advantages:

  • Competitive prices, but not always the lowest.
  • Ability to show +/- 3 days directly in the search results and as a date matrix at the top.
  • Helpful notifications about flights like turboprop planes and overnight flights.
  • Nearby airports listed in filters and ability to check box 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.
  • Big list of alternative suppliers so you can choose where you want to book.
  • 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.

Not So Good:

  • Annoying ad at the top of the search results.
  • Long transfer time to booking site.
  • Sometimes had out of date prices.
  • Lots of sort options but not very prominently displayed.

Prices:

  • Saint John (YSJ) to Vancouver (YVR): $903
  • Toronto (YYZ) to Sydney (SYD): $1859
  • Calgary (YYC) to Paris (CDG): $1244

5) farecompare

farecompare.jpg

Big Advantages:

  • Competitive prices, but not always the lowest.
  • Can make your choice of connecting airports in the filters.
  • Search bar in filters for additional custom filtering.
  • Ability to group flights by Price, Stops, Airline, and Departure Time.
  • Can change to Each Way mode to select departure and return flights separately.
  • Flight details include airplane type which can be of use for frequent travellers who want to target a specific plane.
  • Results update automatically if you have been inactive for a little while.
  • Ability to pin flights to a shortlist at the top of the page.

Not So Good:

  • Forces you to select competing sites that pop up in new windows to increase their chances of getting a commission.
  • You get at least 4 pop up windows when you do your first search, which is really really annoying.
  • App is only available on Apple devices.

Prices:

  • Saint John (YSJ) to Vancouver (YVR): $922
  • Toronto (YYZ) to Sydney (SYD): $1859
  • Calgary (YYC) to Paris (CDG): $1244

6) 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.
  • Handy dropdown Book button to select alternate booking sites.
  • Flight details include airplane type which can be of use for frequent travellers who want to target a specific plane.
  • 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.

Not So Good:

  • Generally high prices compared to others.
  • Didn’t detect location and Canadian currency automatically.
  • Filters are easy to use but somewhat limited.
  • Sometimes had out of date prices.

Prices:

  • Saint John (YSJ) to Vancouver (YVR): $926
  • Toronto (YYZ) to Sydney (SYD): $1912
  • Calgary (YYC) to Paris (CDG): $1260

Related: Lost Luggage: How To Minimize Your Losses

7) 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.

Not So Good:

  • Highest prices when compared to others.
  • 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.

Prices:

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

8) 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.

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.

Prices:

  • Saint John (YSJ) to Vancouver (YVR): $887
  • Toronto (YYZ) to Sydney (SYD): $2075
  • Calgary (YYC) to Paris (CDG): $1370

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): $921
  • Toronto (YYZ) to Sydney (SYD): $1944
  • Calgary (YYC) to Paris (CDG): $1432

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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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
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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