10 Best Search Engines for Your Cheap Flight Search of September 2022
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Now more than ever, there are tons of ways to find cheap flights. Because there are so many different flight search engines, it can feel overwhelming to know which is the best one. We’ve painstakingly researched the different options to catalog when you should use each flight search engine. It pays to compare prices between different options — it can potentially save you hundreds of dollars. We compared the top 15 travel search engines and flight finders to find the best flight search engine.
Best cheap flight search engines August 2022
1. Best cheap flight search engine: Skiplagged
Skiplagged finds cheap flights through a loophole in traditional airline ticketing. Instead of searching for tickets strictly from City A to City B, Skiplagged also searches for hidden-city tickets — meaning flights from City A to City C with a layover in City B. You can land in City B and skip your second leg since flights with layovers can often be cheaper than direct flights.
While rumors swirl that this practice is illegal — it’s not. However, airlines have been reported to retract airline miles or file a lawsuit against those who regularly do this. It’s always a good idea to double-check your airline’s terms and conditions, as the contract may prohibit hidden-city tickets. You’ll also want to avoid checking bags when using a hidden-city ticket since your bags will be checked to the final destination city of your ticket.
For example, let’s say you need to get to Chicago. If you search for a flight from New York to Chicago, Skiplagged may find a cheap flight from New York to Denver with a layover in Chicago. You can simply get off the plane in Chicago without completing the entire flight pattern. While Skiplagged also displays prices for traditional tickets, the website will let you know if it’s a hidden-city ticket by marking it as a “Skiplagged rate.”
Skiplagged is a great search engine when you’re looking for the cheapest flights, and it is the only one that offers hidden-city ticketing. Hidden-city ticketing takes advantage of the fact that flights with connections are often cheaper than direct flights. Just make sure to check your airline’s terms and conditions, and don’t check bags.
This flight search engine is best for those who are merely looking for cheap flight deals and don’t mind booking economy tickets, as Skiplagged doesn’t have an option to filter by class or to search for premium economy, business or first-class tickets. Instead, this website will automatically filter your search results by price. Therefore, economy tickets will always be at the top of the results page.
2. Best search engine for cheapest flights: Agoda
Agoda is an online ticketing agency (OTA) that provides its users with a simple interface to reserve their travel needs quickly. Not only can you book flights, but you can also check out hotels and vacation homes, monthly homestays and airport transfers. Owned by the same parent company as Priceline, Kayak and Booking.com, you can rest assured your booking is with a legitimate business.
Agoda is another search engine that can help you find cheap flights. It is best for people that are looking to combine a cheap flight with a vacation rental stay. That is because it has built-in integration into its Agoda Homes platform with over 2 million properties worldwide.
If you’re looking to combine a flight with a vacation rental, Agoda also offers Agoda Homes, its proprietary homestay service. Comparable to Airbnb, many consumers may find it handy to book their flights and unique homestay experience on the same website. Agoda has access to over 2 million properties worldwide, including hotels, resorts, hostels and more.
Out of all the flight search engines, we found that Agoda displayed significantly cheaper flight prices than its competitors. However, the flights often have long layovers. While you have the potential of saving a couple hundred dollars, you’ll want to make sure that these layovers are worth your time and money.
3. Best mobile app flight search engine: Hopper
Hopper is an excellent mobile app for searching for cheap flight deals. It predicts flight prices for up to a year in advance, claiming up to 95% accuracy. To get started, simply search for a flight itinerary, and Hopper will predict the most optimal time to book your flight. Hopper claims that it can help you save up to 40% on flights, monitoring flights even when you’re not actively using the app.
Hopper will work best for trips where you have several weeks or months to plan. This is because Hopper will monitor your itinerary over time and give you the optimal time to make your purchase. Another important thing to note is that Hopper is primarily available as a mobile app rather than a website.
Using Hopper, you’ll be able to input trips you’re interested in booking. Then, you can save them and watch the prices change over time. Once Hopper notifies you that it’s the best time to book, you’ll be able to pay for your flight securely through the app.
4. Best international flight search engine: Momondo
Compared to the other airfare sites we evaluated, Momondo performed the strongest when searching for international itineraries, particularly for business-class tickets. Momondo works by aggregating the prices for tickets on online ticketing agencies instead of selling tickets on its own website.
Momondo is a different kind of flight search engine. In addition to comparing flight prices listed by the airlines themselves, it also compares prices on other flight search engines. Then, when you’re ready to book, Momondo will link you to one of these other search engines to complete your itinerary.
Most of the sites we evaluated allow users to book tickets directly on their platform or the airline’s website. Momondo only lets you book tickets through online ticketing agencies, known as OTAs. If you find an ideal ticket price, you’ll have to complete the sale on a website that may be unfamiliar to you, like Flights Mojo, Globehunters or TravelMint. Since you’re booking with an OTA rather than directly with the airline, you may face increased fees if you try to change or cancel your flight.
Compared to our top two picks, Momondo’s user experience falls behind. Google Flights loaded its search results significantly faster than Momondo, and Skiplagged’s interface has a much cleaner and more modern feel. In general, we recommend using Skiplagged and Google Flights for domestic bookings and Momondo only when searching for international flights.
5. Best European flight search engine: Skyscanner
Skyscanner has an outstanding platform to search for flights to and within Europe. You can also search for hotels and rental cars on the site using its seamless tab integration for other travel needs. It has decent load times and a clean user interface, and it excels in offering plenty of European airlines in its listings, like Lufthansa and Air France. You can also filter by flight classes, making Skyscanner a great business-class search engine
While Skyscanner shows flight options all across the world, where we found it really shined was for European flight searches. Skyscanner also gives you more toggles to customize your flight, including the ability to search for flights with lower carbon dioxide emissions or specific COVID-19 protocols.
You’ll also be able to toggle based on preferences that most competitors lack. For example, you can search for flexible tickets or flights with lower carbon dioxide emissions. Skyscanner also includes a COVID-19 safety rating for each airline, with the most updated information on cleaning procedures, mandatory policies and changes to the in-flight service.
6. Best search engine for flight packages: Kayak
Kayak is a tried-and-true flight search option with quick load times and solid travel packages for hotels, rental cars and cruises. The website displays many advertisements and can have a disorderly interface, so it’s not our favorite for a minimal experience. If used correctly, however, you can find some excellent deals with Kayak.
Kayak is one of the oldest flight search engines on the internet, but it is still a reliable option for booking flights. Kayak also allows you to easily build a travel package, including flights, hotels, rental cars or even cruises. This makes it a good option for people looking for an all-in-one stop.
If you’re looking to book a travel package or domestic flights, Kayak is an excellent option. You’ll be able to search across hundreds of vacation packages, bundling flights and hotels together at a discounted rate. For popular destinations, it’s worth checking Kayak for these package deals.
7. Best multicity flight search engine: Google Flights
Google Flights is our runner-up for our favorite flight search engines, thanks to its excellent user experience and consistent retrieval of competitively priced tickets on various itineraries. One of the best features is that it allows you to search for flights across multiple airports with one query. For example, if you’re booking a flight to Charlotte, N.C., and you’re unsure whether you want to fly from Boston or New York, Google Flights will let you browse departures from both cities within one search.
Google Flights brings the power of Google to searching for cheap flights. With a sleek and easy-to-use user interface, it’s easy to search for the flights that work best for you. Google Flights allows you to search for multicity flights as well as multiple airports within the same city.
Without fail, Google Flights returned results the fastest across dozens of queries. Search results on Google Flights consistently loaded in under a second, while most other sites took much longer. Finally, both the mobile and desktop versions of the service provide an intuitive and familiar interface for people who already use Google apps.
One of the reasons Google Flights finds inexpensive itineraries is that it allows you to book departure and return legs of your trip on different airlines. This is helpful in cases where booking two one-way tickets is more affordable than booking a round trip. While Google Flights didn’t invent this concept — sites like Kayak have long offered a mixed-airline itinerary — we found that it was nicely integrated into Google’s search capabilities.
8. Best flight search engine for price match guarantee: Priceline
Priceline is owned by the same company as Agoda and Kayak, offering search capability for flights, hotels, rental cars and cruises. It provides a “Bundle + Save” option if you want to mix and match different bookings together. For hotel discounts, Priceline offers its Express Deals, offering up to 60% off on hotels. However, the website design can be confusing and can take much longer to load results than its competitors.
Priceline is unique as compared to other flight search engines due to its price match guarantee. With the Priceline “Best Price Guaranteed” offer, if you find a lower price anywhere else within 24 hours, Priceline will refund you the difference between the two prices. This can give you more confidence that you’re getting the absolute lowest price.
Priceline stands out from the competition with its “Best Price Guaranteed” offer. If you find a lower price within 24 hours of booking your ticket, Priceline will refund you the difference. For Express Deals on hotels, if you find a better price up to midnight before your travel, you’ll be refunded 200% of the difference.
9. Best search engine for Southwest flights: Southwest
For domestic tickets and trips to the Caribbean, the Southwest Airlines website is a must-visit. Southwest offers affordable tickets across its own route map — and it doesn’t allow its tickets to be sold or displayed on third-party websites like Skiplagged, Google Flights and Momondo. As such, you should always check Southwest before booking a domestic economy or Caribbean itinerary on another airline.
Southwest does not allow its flights to be shown on most other flight search engines. So if you’re looking at a flight within Southwest’s route map (the United States, Central America and the Caribbean), you’ll want to check Southwest.com as well. If you do book a Southwest flight, you’ll get two free checked bags included in the price of your ticket.
Southwest is the only domestic airline that offers two free checked bags with every flight. You’ll want to consider this benefit when comparing flight prices, as most cheap flights are basic economy and don’t even include a carry-on bag. If you’re taking a trip for an extended period and need to check your bags, you could save more money flying on Southwest.
10. Best cheap flight subscription service: Scott’s Cheap Flights
Scott’s Cheap Flights isn’t a flight search engine, but users will receive email notifications on deal alerts for low fares out of their preferred airports. While it’s free to subscribe to Scott’s Cheap Flights, Premium users are notified of up to five times more deals than normal readers, including mistake fares and holiday flights. For $49 per year for Premium or $199 per year for Elite, this subscription service can potentially save you hundreds — making this membership well worth it.
This service is best for travelers who have flexible travel plans. Scott’s Cheap Flights will send you an email with the destination, price range and dates. Only displaying nonstop or single-stop flights and on highly rated airlines, you’ll be notified of some phenomenal flight deals. Then, you’ll be able to see the full deal details and book directly on the airline’s website. Most deals only last a couple of days, so you’ll need to be ready to book as soon as possible.
Scott’s Cheap Flights isn’t a flight search engine, but instead a paid subscription service that alerts you to rare flight deals. While this won’t help you get a good deal on a specific flight, it can be a great option if you have flexible travel plans. The Premium service costs $49 per year while Scott’s Elite service costs $199 per year.
11. Best search engine for booking vacation packages: Expedia
Expedia is one of the largest travel search engines out there, with over $70 billion in gross bookings in 2021. No matter where your travels take you, Expedia can help you get there. Searching for travel with Expedia lets you filter, sort and streamline your search to find the best deal for your unique travel situation.
Expedia is one of the largest flight and travel search engines, and that can help you get a wide array of options as you look to build your perfect trip. One area where Expedia stands out is the ability to book complete travel packages. If you’re the type of person that wants to deal with only one travel provider, Expedia may be the right choice for you.
One of the nice features of booking through Expedia is the ability to book complete travel packages. In addition to being able to book flights, hotels and car rentals, with Expedia you can also book cruises and other events. This can truly be a time-saver if you’re looking to book your entire trip in one place.
The cancellation policies for tickets booked through Expedia vary, and it isn’t always clear what the policy actually is. While many flights booked with Expedia offer a 24-hour cancellation policy, it’s not always the case, and the cancellation policies on other types of travel vary as well. Make sure you read the fine print to know what cancellation policy applies to your itinerary.
12. Best loyalty program for a flight search engine: Orbitz
Orbitz is another flight search engine that is a part of the Expedia Group (along with Expedia and Travelocity, among other sites). That gives it access to many of the same deals and pricing. One way that you can get even more value with Orbitz is through its Orbucks rewards program.
Orbitz can be a great option if you want to maximize your rewards points by earning additional Orbucks on all purchases. You could potentially even double-dip by earning airline miles and Orbucks on the same flight purchase. While Orbucks generally expire after one year, you can use them on just about any prepaid hotel purchase with no blackout dates.
While Orbitz generally has the same prices as its sister sites in the Expedia Group, one differentiator it has is the Orbucks loyalty program. You can earn 1%-4% in Orbucks on various bookings through Orbitz. You can then redeem those Orbucks on prepaid hotel stays.
13. Best flight search engine for last-minute deals: Hotwire
Hotwire initially started out as a site that offered “opaque” travel deals. With opaque travel deals, hotels and airlines could anonymously offer deeply discounted deals. When you booked a deal with Hotwire, you might not know what company was offering the deal until you paid. Now, however, Hotwire has transitioned to a transparent flight and travel search engine.
While many trips, especially those where you’re coordinating with other people, have fixed dates and locations, some people also have flexibility when booking travel. If you are in a situation where you are looking for a last-minute travel escape, make sure to look at Hotwire’s last-minute deals.
In addition to providing a traditional flight and hotel search, Hotwire offers last-minute deals for the flexible traveler. You can set your departure city and price range, and Hotwire will show you a list of last-minute deals. If you are a more spontaneous traveler, this could be a great option for you.
14. Best loyalty program for price matching: Travelocity
Travelocity is another flight search engine that is part of the Expedia Group. That gives it access to all of the flights, hotels and other travel options that come with the other sites in the Expedia Group. One area where Travelocity really stands out is in its price match guarantee. While there are some other travel search engines that will match a lower price that you find, Travelocity will also give you a $50 voucher toward a future trip.
Travelocity is a great option if you’re worried about prices going down after you book your trip. With the Travelocity Price Guarantee, you’re covered against price drops up to two days before you check in for hotels and for 24 hours after booking for other forms of travel. In addition to getting the lower price matched, you’ll get a $50 voucher toward future travel.
One thing that many people worry about when booking flights or other travel is potentially finding a better deal as soon as they book their trip. Travelocity takes that worry out of your hand with its Travelocity Price Guarantee. If you find a lower rate within 24 hours of booking, Travelocity will match the lower price and give you a $50 credit toward a future Travelocity hotel booking.
For hotels, the Travelocity Price Guarantee is even better. You can look for a lower price all the way up to two days before your check-in date. Again, if you do find a lower price, Travelocity will match the price and give you a $50 credit toward a future Travelocity hotel booking.
One thing to watch out for when booking through Travelocity (or any flight search engine) is to verify that you know and understand the terms and conditions of the trip that you booked. The cancellation policies for different flights, hotels and other travel booked through Travelocity vary by the type of travel that you booked. Make sure that you read the fine print to know if (and by when) you can cancel this trip and get a refund.
15. Best flight search engine for collecting reward points: CheapOair
CheapOair is another flight search engine that allows you to search for flights, hotels, car rentals and a variety of different travel options. In addition to potentially earning airline miles on your flights, you can also get rewards through CheapOair’s ClubMiles program. Just watch out for possible additional fees and hard-to-find cancellation policies.
CheapOair is a great option if you’re looking to truly maximize the amount of rewards that you get from each travel booking. That’s because in addition to possibly earning airline miles with your booking, you’ll earn ClubMiles rewards points. Every 1,000 ClubMiles points that you earn can be redeemed for a $5 reward.
While most travel search engines allow you to earn airline miles for flights booked through them, only a few have their own rewards programs as well. Booking your next flight through a flight search engine that also has its own loyalty program like the CheapOair ClubMiles program can allow you to double-dip on the rewards. This can really maximize the value that you get from booking travel.
CheapOair does charge agency and/or processing fees on some itineraries. This can make your final price higher than you were expecting. Make sure you see the final price before you click “pay” to fully understand how much you’re being charged. You’ll also want to double-check the cancellation policies on any tickets that you buy. That way, you’ll know if you can cancel and still get a refund.
Pros/cons of search engines
|Skiplagged||Find insanely cheap flight deals, track flight prices||No options for cheap business or first-class tickets|
|Agoda||Finding dirt-cheap flight deals, booking flights and accommodations (including homestays) in one place||Cheapest flights have long layovers|
|Hopper||Monitoring flight prices, mobile app capability||Not 100% reliable, not suitable for flights you need to book instantly|
|Momondo||Excellent deals on international itineraries||Slow load times|
|Skyscanner||European flights, unique toggling abilities||Mediocre load times, lots of ads on the page|
|Kayak||Discounted flight and hotel packages||Disorganized website layout|
|Google Flights||Fast load times, search multicity flights, ability to toggle by flight preferences||Doesn’t always find the lowest fare available|
|Priceline||Best price guaranteed, cheap hotel and travel bundles||Slow load times, confusing website|
|Southwest||Southwest flights, two free checked bags||Unable to compare prices across other airlines|
|Scott’s Cheap Flights||Rare flight deals, only displays reputable airlines||Limited-time offers only, specific destinations and dates|
|Expedia||Easily book complete travel packages including events||Cancellation policies can be difficult to understand|
|Orbitz||Rewards program lets you earn additional rewards on all bookings||Rewards expire after one year|
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Compare flight prices by search engine
We searched for two round-trip flights with the same dates: an international trip from New York to Paris (JFK to CDG) and a domestic trip from Boston to San Francisco (BOS to SFO). We took the price of the cheapest flight possible, not taking into account flight times, fare class or airline.
|Skiplagged||$391||Norte Lineas Areas / easyJet, one connection||$257||Alaska, nonstop|
|Agoda||$530||Icelandair, one layover||$257||Alaska, nonstop|
|Hopper||$456||Level, one layover||$248||Alaska, nonstop|
|Momondo||$497||Icelandair, one layover||$258||Delta, nonstop|
|Skyscanner||$457||Vueling, one layover||$250||Alaska, nonstop|
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Tips for getting cheap flights
Even the most advanced flight search engine can only get you so far. If you want to save money on airfare or your trip as a whole, your best bet is to gain maximum value with the following tips:
It may be an extra step, but if you fly a certain airline frequently, you’ll definitely want to sign up for its rewards program and improve your odds of earning miles. You’ll also increase your chances of obtaining discounts for food and drinks while flying or earning access to a coveted airport lounge. Don’t let the savings stop there — sign up for the rewards programs at popular hotel chains while you’re at it.
Save yourself some time and money by packing light. Many airlines charge for checked bags, so for shorter trips try to stick to a carry-on bag only. If you must check a bag, you may want to pay to check it online before you arrive at the airport, which some airlines give a discount for.
According to a Skyscanner, the best time to book a domestic flight is at least three weeks in advance and two weeks in advance for an international flight. Prices start increasing after the two-week mark and skyrocket the week before the departure date, so you’ll be sure to snag a cheap flight by booking well in advance.
If possible, book the departure and return dates of your trip in the middle of the week, as Tuesdays and Wednesdays are the cheapest days to fly. Flights tend to be more expensive on the weekends and Mondays and Fridays. For even more flexibility, most of the search engines above allow you to view prices for flights on each day of the week.
While those traveling for business might have a strict schedule to stick to, try to be flexible on your vacation dates. Leaving on a Tuesday may not seem as fitting as heading out of office on a Friday, but chances are, your flight will be cheaper. And it may save you money by flying in and out of an airport that’s farther out from where you normally fly. For example, fares from San Antonio might be cheaper than from Austin, Texas, and San Antonio is just a little more than an hour away from Austin. Or, if flying internationally, flights in and out of Dallas or Houston may be considerably more affordable.