I've tried 5 different flight-buying websites, and Skyscanner is the clear winner -- here's why

Matej Kastelic/ShutterstockTravel can be expensive — save money with flight-buying websites like Skyscanner.
  • Booking a flight can be expensive, and travellers are always looking for ways to save money.
  • There are many websites that do the dirty work of searching through airline providers to find the perfect flight at the cheapest price.
  • Of all the flight-buying websites, Skyscanner is almost always the cheapest due to its multi-city searches, price trend tracker, and secret “everywhere” feature.

Not long ago, vacationers relied on paper maps for directions and a telephone for booking flights.Before Google, the only way to snag a good deal on a flight was to call each airline, visit the ticket counters, or spend the extra cash on a travel agent. Today, affordable travel is only a click away.

There are dozens of websites that do the dirty work of sifting through hundreds of providers to find users the perfect flight, and as a frequent flyer, I rely on them heavily. I have five go-to websites for searching flights, but some are cheaper and more user-friendly than others.

It is important to note that although flight-buying websites are helpful in the hunt for cheap flights,purchasing flights directly from the airline is often best. A third-party site won’t care whether you’ve missed a connection or need to change the time of your flight to avoid losing your job (take it from me).

Here are the pros and cons of my favourite flight-search sites, and why Skyscanner is the best:


1. Expedia

Pe3k/ShutterstockExpedia has a great search function.

As a naive travel newbie, I would book flights throughExpediabecause it seemed consistently cheap, had arewards system, and was easy to use.

After a few negative experiences with customer service (which can happen with any third-party flight-search site) – including an incident with a missed connection that had me running between help desks at the airport – I stopped purchasing tickets through Expedia.

I still use it as a search engine, however, since it offers plentiful filters and scores each flight out of 10 based on amenities and aircraft quality.


2. KAYAK

Pe3k/ShutterstockKAYAK can predict flight price trends over time.

Priceline’sKAYAKis reliable when it comes to finding deals. In an initial search, the calendar indicates which dates are cheapest with a green dot. It can predict price trends and indicate the best time to buy.

My favourite function, however, isKAYAK Explore. Perfect for the beginning stages of planning, Explore lets users plug in a home airport and rough idea of travel dates, then it displays a map of prices and destinations you probably haven’t even thought of.


3. Google Flights

dennizn/ShutterstockGoogle Flights is great for flexible and frugal travellers.

Google Flightslooks similar to KAYAK but is often faster and shows the cheapest price for each day during the initial search, making it easier to select the cheapest departure date. Its calendar is perfect for a flexible and frugal traveller like me.

As with other websites, it allows users to track prices via email and explore price trends through a graph. Unlike others, it will even indicate the amount of legroom, the availability of power outlets, WiFi, and in-flight video.


4. Momondo

Pavel Shiykov/ShutterstockMomondo is a bit less detailed than the other sites.

While more colourful than Google Flights,Momondodoesn’t offer as much detail about the flight itself as its counterparts, which, for me, is much more important than website aesthetics.

On the other hand, Momondo categorizes search results into three tabs, labelled “cheapest,” “quickest,” and “best,” under which I can easily find the best bang for my buck.


5. Skyscanner

Nokuro/ShutterstockSkyscanner is great for international travel.

Skyscanneris a godsend for booking international travel and is the best website for cheap flights, in my opinion. I personally use a variety of resources, but if I had to choose just one all-inclusive website, this would be it.

Like KAYAK, Skyscanner will help youchoose the right destinationfor your budget by simply selecting “everywhere” in the “to” box. It lets users search loose dates and will even suggest the cheapest month to fly. It categorizes flights by “best,” “cheapest,” and “fastest,” and – without fail – always offers the cheapest price.

For instance, in a search of round-trip flights from New York to London, all four other websites showed their cheapest flights for $US520, while Skyscanner showed one for $US512. For multi-city trips, Skyscanner is easy to use, too, allowing up to six destinations in one search. For a cheap traveller like me, Skyscanner is key.

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