For about the past six months there has been article after article with headlines such as “Roundtrip from U.S. To Europe for $189.” Airlines like Norwegian Air and low-cost carriers such as WOW seem to be making travel to and from Europe more affordable. Even British Airways is getting in on the action, with a new sister airline called “Level.“ But how do you find these super cheap flights? You can head directly to individual airlines sites, but what are the best search engines for all flights? Here are some of the sites that I use along with helpful hints on how to use them.
If you are looking for a specific destination with a specific or a flexible date, then have a look at Cheapoair. For some flight combos, they have a great price calendar you can click on before you even hit the find button. Also, you can book the tickets directly on the site and they even have a 24 hour period to cancel your tickets. Look for the tab “Alternate Dates” in your price results for a pricing grid that shows lower rates and other options.
This site has many flexible search options by destination and dates. It has an “everywhere” feature that I love. This means you can enter your departure airport and for the destination, just type “everywhere” and then choose your dates and it will bring up the least expensive ticket it finds. So if you just want to run away to anywhere (and who doesn’t feel like doing that on occasion?), then this is the service for you.
Skyscanner also allows you to search prices by the entire month. Again you can use the “everywhere” option if you just need to run away or enter your destination city and the system will present you with a calendar of prices. From there you click on your choice and then you will be redirected to the airline’s site. Skyscanner does not allow you to book on their site; it redirects you to the appropriate booking site.
Momondo also has a “take me anywhere” feature, and they too have a price calendar displayed in a bar graph. They also give you the quickest way to get to your destination, but also the “best way” meaning a balance between price and time.
Adosio has flexibility as well. You can search “anywhere” then choose your departure month and about how long your trip is (about 1 week, about 2 weeks, etc…). It will search these parameters. You can also specify a region, for instance, “Europe.” The results page presents you with pretty pictures of destination cities along with the least expensive price. The results are not returned with the cheapest destination first, so you need to scroll the entire results page.
5. Google Flights
Google flights has the flexibility for destination and date searches just as Skyscanner. The prices are displayed on the calendar and come up very fast. Sometimes with the other sites, I feel like I am living back in the “you’ve got mail” days. Which maybe those days weren’t so bad. Remember how excited you were to hear those words? Anyway…the results are fast. They are not always the least expensive, but they are a great indicator of what’s out there.
In my searches on all these sites, apart from Google, I have found them to be temperamental at times. For example, showing a certain price on the calendar, but then not being able to find that cheap price when I actually go to the dates shown on the calendar. Still, there is no doubt that the price calendars are helpful if you have flexibility in your schedule.
Also – a word of warning when booking any airline ticket – read all the fine print. Pay attention to everything. Note the airport you are being routed to. For instance, Milan has three airports, but one is an hour and a half away. Also, make sure you look at layovers and the overall flight time. A flight that normally takes 12 hours could take 26 hours and you might even have to find a hotel for the night. Is saving a few bucks really worth that? Again, maybe the price difference is totally worth it but just pay attention. Also take into consideration costs for luggage, meals, even blankets. Yes, on some of those low-cost carriers mentioned above, you have to pay for a blanket.
Do you have a favorite site you like to use? If so, please share it! I always love finding new resources for affordable travel!