I don’t know if a week has gone by in my life that I haven’t binge-searched the internet for the cheapest flight to somewhere other than my 500 sq. ft. apartment. And with so many flight comparison websites available these days, It’s so easy to get sucked into a rabbit hole while hunting for the best deals and routes.
Unfortunately for us avid travelers, booking a flight is more than just inputting your travel dates and picking one of the first ones you find. If you really want to get the best flight at the best price, it pays to shop around.
There are so many websites out there for booking cheap flights, it’s hard to know where to begin. So, after many years of late nights scouring the internet for my next adventure, I compiled this list of 15 of the best flight booking sites so you can find the cheapest fares!
- Best Flight Booking Website Overall: Skyscanner
- Best Website to Find Cheap Flights: Momondo
- Best Website to Find the Cheapest Travel Dates: Google Flights
- Best Website for Flight Deals: Scotts Cheap Flights
- Best Website for Last-Minute Flights: Airfare Watchdog
- Best Website to Book Flights and Hotels: Hotwire
- Best Empty Leg Flights Website: Wheels Up
- Best Website For Price Matching: Travelocity
- Best Flight Website for Predicting Travel Deals: Hopper
- Best Flight Website for Hidden City Ticketing: Skiplagged
- Best Flight Website for Vacation Packages: Expedia
- Best Flight Booking Site for Airline Reviews: TripAdvisor
- Best Flight Booking Site for Collecting Points: Orbitz
- Best Flight Booking Site for Multi-Stop Travels: Kiwi
1. Book Direct Through The Airline’s Website
There are three types of airfare search sites you might use on your flight booking journey:
- Online travel agencies (OTA)
- Flight aggregators
- Airline websites
An online travel agency typically has access to special pricing on certain flights which you can then book directly on the website.
A flight aggregator, on the other hand, rounds up flight pricing from all over the web and sends you either to the airline’s website or the OTA for booking.
The airline website is almost always the best option when it comes to booking flights. And I typically find the flight I want to book using a flight aggregator. I generally recommend that you stay away from OTAs, unless you find a crazy good deal.
That’s because when you book directly through an airline, you have more flexibility to cancel, change, or refund your trip. OTA cancelation policies are typically very, very bad. Airlines are much more likely to work with you when issues arise, whereas OTAs are known for having pretty poor customer service.
You’re saving yourself a potential headache down the line, should anything change.
So, here’s what I recommend: When searching for your next flight, start with your preferred website—like Skyscanner, Momondo, or another—and search for your flights. If you have flexible dates or airports, play around with the filters to compare prices.
Once you’ve found cheap airfare, head to that airline’s site to look up the flight. Sometimes flight aggregators will have the option to automatically take you to the airline website anyway.
If the best price in the flight search results is not available on the primary airline, then use one of the booking websites I mention in this article.
2. Skyscanner: Best Flight Booking Website Overall
No matter how many times I’ve searched for flights on other websites, I always come back to Skyscanner. I’ve been using Skyscanner for years now, and it’s simply the best airfare booking site, especially when searching with flexible dates.
Skyscanner searches 1,200 airlines and travel providers and always returns excellent results, even on tricky routes, because they’ll often pull from two separate airlines for your trip if necessary. You may have to switch airlines at the airport, but if you want to save money, it’s worth it. If not, you can filter out the results for the “fastest” route to take.
The search results even show ratings for the online travel agencies or airlines to help make your decision easier (for example, when it comes down to Condor versus Expedia, Condor has the best ratings).
If you don’t know where to go but you do know when you want to go, you can literally search “Everywhere” to find the cheapest destinations within a certain timeframe. You can also set up price change notifications, so you’re alerted when a route you’re eyeing drops in price. I’ve found some excellent deals over the years this way, my favorite being a roundtrip flight to Switzerland for $500!
I will say where Skyscanner falls short is last-minute flights. They tend not to have the cheapest results, but it doesn’t hurt to check here first before moving onto other sites no this list.
3. Momondo: Best Website to Find Cheap Flights
For me, it’s always a toss up between Momondo and Skyscanner when looking for flight deals. Both frequently return the same cheap flight results, but Momondo is also great for tracking flights. If you’re an airfare nerd like me, you’ll appreciate this feature.
There are lots of great filters to use when you’re searching for a flight on Momondo—you can select your preferred airline or airline alliance, flight duration, and even layover duration. For example, the search results for a route from NYC to Dubai show a wide range of prices depending on the route that suits you best.
I also love the fact that you can filter out red-eyes if necessary, and you can search for hotels, vacation package deals, activities, and car rentals too. It’s like a one-stop shop!
The visual flight tracker at the top of the search results is my favorite Momondo feature. It simply shows you the specific days your route would be cheapest, which could end up saving you hundreds of dollars just by changing your arrival or departure date by a day or two. If you have flexible dates for your trip, this feature can offer massive savings.
Like Skyscanner, Momondo will also mix and match airlines to help you find cheap airfare. You can also set up price alerts, or search “Anywhere” if you have flexible dates and simply want to travel somewhere new!
4. Google Flights: Best Website to Find the Cheapest Travel Dates
Google Flights is another search aggregator and is one of the best tools for searching for cheap flight prices because it uses the powerful ITA Matrix search engine, which was originally built for travel agents.
There’s no bells or whistles with Google Flights: it’s simply a search engine that delivers a wide range of flights. When you enter your flight route in the search bar, Google Flights automatically pulls the cheapest airfare into the calendar…before you even need to hit “Search.”
When you click ahead a few weeks or months, you can see how much the price varies, down to the day. This is an amazing tool if you have flexible dates for your trip.
Plus, when you enter your departure city, Google Flights offers a list of destination airports with incredibly low prices. Just putting “Los Angeles” in the “From” field showed me cheap flights to New York City starting from $208 USD, and Los Angeles to Vegas for less than $50 USD!
You can also set filters to search regions or even continents, like Europe, for a broader range of results.
Be sure to check out the price graph to see how things are trending, or set up easy price alerts with a quick toggle button. Google Flights will even let you know if baggage fees are extra. Transparency! I love it.
The only thing keeping Google Flights from the #1 spot on this list, in my opinion, is the fact that all the filters and options can be quite confusing for the average traveler. It’s easy to get lost in all the details if you’re simply just trying to find cheap flights as quickly as possible.
5. Scotts Cheap Flights: Best Website for Flight Deals
If you’re the kind of person who’s willing to go just about anywhere if the right deal pops up, give Scott’s Cheap Flights a shot. (Note: Scott’s Cheap Flights currently only offers deals from US airports).
Scott’s Cheap Flights is an email subscription service that rounds up flight deals internationally and domestically within the United States. Most of their deals have between 40-90% off average airfare prices. These aren’t computer-automated results: Scott’s Cheap Flights has a full team of people scouring the web for deals everyday.
You have two options when you sign up for the Scott’s Cheap Flights service: free, and paid. The “freemium” subscription means you can sign up to receive free emails about flight deals, but you’re limited to international economy deals from five origin airports (of your preference).
But if you sign up for the Premium or Elite membership, you’ll actually receive those same flight deals 30 minutes ahead of the free subscribers. With premium, you’ll also get emails about domestic flight prices, error fares (these happen when an airline or OTA accidentally lists a flight for cheaper than the actual fare), or deals on premium seats.
And these aren’t crappy routes on budget carriers—real people research the flight deals for Scott’s Cheap Flights, and they only send you the kind of flight deals they’d also send to their friends.
I highly recommend signing up for the free version and seeing if it’s something you enjoy. From there, try the two-week trial run of the paid subscription and see if anything interesting pops up!
Obviously you’re most likely to find a cheap flight if you live close to a major city hub, but you’ll be surprised by the flight results for less populated airports as well.
6. Airfare Watchdog: Best Website for Last-Minute Flights
Similar to Scott’s Cheap Flights, Airfare Watchdog has a team of flight hackers that scour the Internet for the best deals on cheap fares. That includes error fares and other last-minute deals that may pop up at any moment.
If you have flexible travel dates and can book a flight at the drop of a hat, this gives you an excellent opportunity to save some money.
The website is wonderfully straightforward. As soon as you log your city, Airfare Watchdog gives you a list of deals available right on the homepage, with airfare deals often under $100 round-trip. These deals are refreshed daily.
At the top of the page, you’ll also find Today’s Top Deals, and you’ll see Weekend Deals under the Flights category. The weekend deals are particularly useful if you want to plan a quick, three to four day getaway. You can select the “Take Me Anywhere” option to see what express deals are available from your departure airport.
The downside: almost all the express deals are for US destinations. If I want an express deal for somewhere south of the border, for example, I may have to dig a little deeper.
Airfare Watchdog is also really good at monitoring price trends over time, so when you sign up for airfare alerts you’ll get updates when airfare prices fluctuate. And, unlike Scott’s Cheap Flights, Airfare Watchdog is also available in Canada.
7. Hotwire: Best Website to Book Flights and Hotels
I’ve used Hotwire many times to book last-minute hotel stays in various cities, so I was excited to try booking a Hot Rate Flight along with a hotel stay on their website.
“Hot Rate Flights” conceal the airline and exact flight times until after you book—much like their hotel stays. If those detail don’t matter too much to you, this could be a great money-saving option to try out (plus, who doesn’t like living life on the edge a little bit)!
Hotwire really shines when you bundle your deals and book a hotel along with your flight. For example, while searching for a flight and hotel bundle from New York City to London, a message popped up to notify me that I could save nearly $400 USD if I booked the hotel and the Hot Rate Flight together.
So, I searched for a 3-night stay with flights and hotels included and the cost was $1,277 USD total. And the hotel was a boutique hotel, which was a nice perk!
A quick separate search for both the hotel rates and regular airfare shows that, indeed, the Hotwire deal is cheaper. Just the flight alone through American Airlines for the same dates is $1,347 USD…and that’s without the hotel!
I should note that although the Hotwire flights were cheaper than booking directly through the American Airlines site, the Hotwire AA flights used two different New York City airports.
When I tried booking one-way flights for departure and return on the airline’s website to match the exact same Hotwire routing, the price was actually even higher! Truly a great deal from Hotwire.
You also get a 24-hour cancellation policy with Hotwire. There are no hidden fees involved (although there may be a booking fee), because Hotwire is refreshingly upfront about baggage fees, seat selection, etc.
8. Wheels Up: Best Empty Leg Flights Website
An “empty leg flight” refers to those flights that are scheduled without any passengers; for example, when an aircraft needs to return for a charter. Typically, this most often happens with private jet companies, and because of this, you may find cheap flights up to 75% off the regular charter price.
These flights are quite different from your standard flights. Empty legs don’t usually show up until last minute, availability is unpredictable, and routes are limited.
Cancellations are common and the airline won’t rebook you like a commercial airline would, plus you can only book one way. You’ll be responsible for your own return trip.
You might be wondering why you’d even go for this option at all. Well, it’s partly to enjoy the experience—but also because sometimes you really can find a stellar deal if you’re not too concerned about the final destination.
While some private air charter companies let you browse empty legs directly on their website, you’ll get the best bang for your buck if you sign up for a membership for a company like Wheels Up, Delta Private Jets’ parent company.
Memberships start at about $3,000 per year, but then you’re able to access discounted empty leg flights for as little as $320 for the entire plane. So, if you want to treat a group of friends or family to an exciting weekend somewhere, this is a good way to do it.
9. Travelocity: Best For Price Matching
Who could forget the Travelocity gnome? Travelocity is one of those online travel agencies that seemingly has been around forever.
You won’t find any remarkable differences in the price of plane tickets on Travelocity compared to other sites, but it’s a good reliable service that has all the standard perks, like free cancellation within 24 hours.
The price match guarantee is one of the main perks of searching through Travelocity. If you can find the same cheap flight on another OTA for a better price, Travelocity will refund the difference in price, and also give you a $50 coupon to use on their site for future travels. You can use that coupon for hotel bookings, or hotel and flight packages.
Two caveats for the low price guarantee: the ticket price must be for an identical reservation on the other website, and you’ll have to find this price within 24 hours of booking the initial flight.
Travelocity does sometimes charge a booking fee, but if you’re super keen on snagging that price match guarantee, you could end up collecting a nice amount of cash over time for your efforts. My time is money, so I don’t typically go this route, but it may be worthwhile for some.
10. Hopper: Best Flight Website for Predicting Travel Deals
Hopper is actually a travel app that helps users find the best deals on flights and hotels, and reportedly predicts with a 95% accuracy when rates will go up or down. Hopper uses super specific algorithms to determine these predictions, and they’ve truly never let me down.
When you have some idea of when and where you’d like to travel (Asia in the fall, perhaps?), you can input your dates and destination into the app. Hopper will let you know when the price is expected to increase or decrease, so you can make better decisions and ultimately save money. And if a deal pops up, you can book it directly in the app!
You really have to use the Hopper app to make the most of this flight search tool. There’s not much you can play around with on a web browser. Luckily, the app is super intuitive and makes the online travel planning process an absolute delight (other than the pop-ups).
Here’s an example of their straightforward price trends, for a Montreal to Tokyo route:
If the price is expected to rise, you can book the flight immediately to grab the best deal possible. But if the app says the cost will drop in the future, you can “watch” the flight and ask to receive a notification when the fare drops.
Taking it one step further, you can actually pay a deposit on a “price freeze” so that the rate you’re seeing will be available to book for the next 20 days, even if the flight increases. And if the price drops within those 20 days, Hopper will offer a price match. You’ll pay the lower price and the deposit will go toward the total fare. But if you don’t book, you’ll lose your deposit too.
Side note: although Hopper doesn’t have a booking fee, they do include a $5 “tip” to every booking. You’re free to opt out of it, though.
When I first heard about “hidden city ticketing”, I thought it was a shady practice. It basically means booking a ticket that has a layover through the city where you actually want to travel to, and then getting off there instead of completing the flight.
For example, maybe you want to fly from Boston to Austin, but the flight is way too expensive. If you can find a cheaper flight from Boston to Houston with a stopover in Austin, then you can book that flight and just get off at your connecting flight (Austin is the hidden city here).
Using connecting airports to get off before the trip is complete only works if you’re traveling with just your carry-on luggage, and if you only book a one-way ticket (your whole flight will be cancelled if you don’t show up for the latter part of your reservation).
You shouldn’t use your frequent flier miles for this kind of trip either, as the airline may ding you for your points. So yeah, you can see why I’ve never been a fan of this method.
So is it illegal? No, not at all. Skiplagged even has the tagline, “Our flights are so cheap, United sued us…but we won.”
While there doesn’t seem to be any hidden city results here, the site still lists all the prices that might work for your route.
It’s also worth noting that you should obviously not book these kinds of hidden city fares for every single flight you book. If you grab a hidden city fare on the same destination with the same airline over and over, the airline is going to notice.
12. Expedia: Best Flight Website for Vacation Packages
Every now and then, I just want a nice, easy vacation package without any hassle.
If you can relate, you’ll probably want the full deal without having to think about it too much: the flights, the hotels, and the rental cars. Just a few clicks and boom, you’re done! The ever-popular, all-inclusive vacation comes to mind.
Expedia is another extremely well-known flight booking site like Travelocity that has been around for ages. It truly excels at bundling options for the ultimate vacation package for just about anywhere in the world.
On their Packages section, you can opt to add your hotel stays, flights, and rental cars. Or if you just want to book your hotel and flight together, you can do that too. Since Expedia is an OTA, it’s easy to click through to your options and book everything all at once.
For example, a quick search for week-long vacation packages in Hawaii (from LAX) immediately delivers a $5,357 package at the Ritz Carlton Maui with everything like flights and rental car included. You can choose to upgrade your room or flight if you like.
It’s all about convenience when it comes to booking high-end online travel like this. That being said, I still recommend pricing out each option individually to see if it’s cheaper to book each thing separately.
Expedia’s filters really do help you customize the perfect vacation (and they’re transparent about everything, even baggage fees).
13. TripAdvisor: Best Flight Booking Site for Airline Reviews
On one of my very first international trips back in my early 20s, I used TripAdvisor to meticulously plan where I’d stay and what I’d do. The TripAdvisor community is massive, and I ended up even meeting some new friends in the forums.
It only makes sense that TripAdvisor has evolved into such a beast of a website, now covering everything from flight deals to rental cars to tour activities. It’s way more comprehensive than other sites.
TripAdvisor is an aggregator, and they use quite a few OTAs I had never heard of before. So how does it stack up to other flight search sites?
To be honest, my search for TripAdvisor flights didn’t really come back with anything outstanding. But what I really loved about the process was how much information was readily available at my fingertips.
TripAdvisor has certainly amassed a ton of information over the years, and if you’re someone who appreciates the finer details of your trip planning, you’ll love the site.
For example, when searching round trip TripAdvisor flights from Rome to Istanbul, my search results returned a number of airlines I didn’t recognize. All I had to do was review the flight details and reviews for Sky Express that TripAdvisor had right there on the site to realize I definitely wasn’t keen on using that airline.
But from there, I can immediately click around the other tabs and see car rentals, recommended restaurants, hotel suggestions, vacation homes, and even cruises in Athens.
The site is remarkably intuitive and you’ll have no trouble planning a full trip this way. On the downside, everything is slow as hell and it often takes awhile to get any results for booking flights.
14. Orbitz: Best Flight Booking Site for Collecting Points
If you’re the kind of person who likes to earn frequent flyer miles or reap the benefit of customer loyalty programs, you’ll definitely appreciate the Orbitz rewards program.
Orbitz is an OTA that has been around since the early 2000s, and so it has earned its reputation as a reliable flight booking site. But it’s the Orbitz Rewards program that really sets it apart from the others.
When you book through Orbitz, you’ll earn points (Orbucks) on hotels, flights, and vacation packages. Whatever you’re booking, you’ll earn 1-2% of your purchase back in Orbucks (the percentage tends to be higher on their app).
The caveat? You can only redeem those Orbucks for hotels.
Still, it’s not a bad deal. For example, if you purchase a $1,000 flight, you’ll earn 10 Orbucks towards your hotel stay. After awhile, it adds up. The program is free to join as well.
Sometimes Orbitz does charge a booking fee, however. There seems to be no rhyme or reason for when the booking fee applies, but check your itinerary before finalizing your purchase. The fee itself could entirely defeat the purpose of the Orbucks.
Other than that, Orbitz has a 24-hour cancellation policy and a lowest price guarantee.
15. Kiwi: Best Flight Booking Site for Multi-Stop Travels
Kiwi.com is a relatively new OTA for me, and like other OTAs on this list, you can book directly on the website.
This flight booking website is super intuitive for booking multi-destination trips. It’s a joy to use! All you have to do is input the start and final destination points of your journey, and then fill in everything else in between (including how long you want to stay where).
The search results will put together a complete itinerary for you by pulling a number of different airlines and routes with the best price possible.
If you want to do some European country hopping, you can fly from Boston to London, spend a few days there before taking off to Portugal, tour around for awhile at your leisure, and then book your trip home from another city like Berlin.
The search results are super fast, and I appreciate how simply the results are broken down. Even the flight times are immediately visible. Can you believe that the entire route only cost $920 USD in total?
You also have the option to filter out your results so that you select the fastest, cheapest, or “best” routes.
Mind you, there are always hidden fees, like baggage fees. So be mindful of those. And also be sure to review your flight details closely—you won’t always be leaving from the same airport you’ve arrived in.
Best Flight Websites FAQ
Which website is best for flight booking?
The best website for booking flights is any website on this list that works best for you. Maybe there’s one website you enjoy using the most, or maybe it’s a few different websites to research and compare prices across the board.
It really comes down to personal preference, but it doesn’t mean you’ll always be getting the best rates. Skyscanner, Momondo, and Google Flights consistently find the cheapest flights and routes, but booking through the airline is always best in case there are delays or cancellations.
Which is the best website to use to book the cheapest flights?
The best website to use for booking cheap flights is whatever website returns the best value for your money.
That means that you’ll have to factor in all the things that may not show up immediately in the search results, such as baggage fees and other airline fees. Also take into account whether or not there’s a chance you may have to cancel or change your flight, as not all customer service is created equal!
Will I earn frequent flyer miles when I book through online travel agencies?
Yes, you will earn frequent flyer miles when booking through an online travel agency. And if you’re booking through an OTA like Orbitz, you’ll even collect points through their points program.
This isn’t the case when you’re booking hotels, however. You cannot use a hotel’s loyalty program when booking through an OTA.
What is the best flights website to buy cheap flights to Europe?
Skyscanner, Momondo, and Google Flights are my top three flight booking websites that I use when booking airfare to Europe. This is because they scour a seemingly limitless number of airlines and flight routes to deliver the best results posisble!
Final Thoughts: Best Websites to Book Cheap Flights
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: the best website for booking your flight is the airline’s own website, unless you can find the lowest price elsewhere.
When you’re dealing with the airline’s own customer service for things like flight cancellations or delays, it’s much easier for them to directly solve the issues. That’s not to say that companies like Expedia or Orbitz have bad customer service—it’s just that they don’t have the same privileges as the airline to help you get your travel back on track.
The best thing to do is use one of these flight booking websites (or better yet, a combination of websites!) to do a little research, find the best flight deals, and then search for those flights on the airline’s website. You may have to mix and match airlines and airports, but it’s worth it if you’re saving hundreds of dollars.
Would I book directly with an OTA? Sure. But it’d have to be an excellent deal I can’t find anywhere else.
If there’s another flight booking site that you prefer to use, I’d love to hear all about it in the comments.