5 Best Sites to Book Cheapest Flights in 2024 – Forbes Advisor


Kiwi: Best for combo single tickets

Website type: online travel agency

In terms of pure pricing, New Zealand came out on top in our research. However, it's worth noting that it's often been able to undercut its competitors by offering unique itineraries that take advantage of “travel hacks,” including self-transfer ticketing, hidden city tickets, and one-time ticketing.

Of the three hacks, we found New Zealanders were most likely to recommend self-service transfer flights. Self-service transfer itineraries combine two flights from different airlines to offer a lower price than you would pay with either airline for the entire journey.

Although self-service transfers can save money, the hassle factor is also high. Unlike flights booked with airlines with codeshare agreements, each airline on a self-service transfer itinerary does not know about your other flights. Therefore, if you checked your bag, you will need to collect it from baggage claim (which usually means leaving the secure area) before you can check it with a second carrier. Additionally, if your first flight is delayed and you miss your second flight, you won't have the usual recourse you would have if you booked two flights with the same airline.

If that sounds like too much pressure, you can use the Travel Hacks filter to filter through these creative routes, and the good news is New Zealand offers competitive fares on more traditional itineraries, too.

It also offers the ability to search up to five days before or after a target date. In addition to the normal one-way, round trip or multi-city search capabilities, Kiwi also offers the unique Nomad option. Just enter the time you plan to travel and the destinations you want to visit. Kiwi then goes from there, offering a unique itinerary that saves you the most money.

As an OTA, Kiwi is able to offer some built-in protection options that travel aggregators like Momondo and Google Flights cannot. For example, you can pay a fee to lock in a price for three days. You can also pay to add the Kiwi.com Guarantee to your flight, which will find an alternative itinerary or provide a refund if one of your carriers makes an unexpected change. Adding this protection plan can give you peace of mind if you book one of New Zealand's famously recommended and unusual routes.

While Kiwi does have a pricing trend chart, it does not provide any kind of pricing forecast. It also has no rewards program.

advantage

  • Display unique “Travel Tips” itineraries
  • Various travel protection options available
  • Nomad tool takes multi-city search to the next level

shortcoming

  • No reward program
  • Unable to filter results by transit city
  • New Zealanders' money-saving tips can be risky and inconvenient

Expedia: Best for Ten Thousand Key Rewards members

Website type: online travel agency

Expedia will be best for those who are loyal fans of the Ten Thousand Keys Rewards program. If you regularly earn OneKeyCash through Expedia, Hotels.com or Vrbo, you can redeem those rewards for flights. However, don't expect to earn too much OneKeyCash from booking flights. All other qualifying bookings earn 2%, while flights only earn a paltry 0.2%.

Despite their lower earning potential, all flights earn 1 travel element towards higher OneKey status. Speaking of status, OneKey Gold and Platinum members receive free price reduction protection on flights booked through the Expedia app.

Like other OTAs, Expedia offers flight protection add-ons. Just know that many credit cards come with built-in travel insurance benefits, so you’ll want to know what benefits are available with your credit card before paying for coverage you don’t need. Expedia also offers a variety of sorting options, including less common ones like earliest and latest departure or return. However, it is one of the few sites that does not offer “Best” or “Value” as filtering options.

There's another quirk to Expedia's sorting that's worth noting. If you're searching for return flights and want to sort the results by something other than lowest price, you'll need to select this option for both departure and return flights. Expedia will default to sorting return flights by “Price (lowest)” even if you sort your departure flights in another way, such as “Duration (lowest).”

Expedia tends to stick to simple itineraries. Unlike Skiplagged, which we discuss next, you won't find it recommending hidden city tickets. We also found that Expedia generally only shows multiple tickets involving codeshare partners (i.e. flights without self-service transfers). Depending on whether your priority is finding the absolute lowest price or minimizing hassle, this can be seen as a weakness or a strength.

advantage

  • Earn 1 OneKey travel element per flight
  • Free price reduction protection for OneKey Gold and Platinum members
  • Despite excluding “hacky” itineraries, prices are still competitive

shortcoming

  • Booking a round trip ticket requires a few clicks compared to other websites
  • Earn only 0.2% with one-click cash for flights
  • No option to sort by best value fares

Skiplagged: Best for hidden city flying

Website type: online travel agency

As its name suggests, Skplagged is a website that shamelessly recommends flights involving Skiplagged, also known as Hidden City Ticketing.

With this travel tip, you can book a flight with a stopover at your actual final destination. While it may seem counterintuitive, these long-haul flights are often cheaper than direct flights to connecting cities. Skiplagging means booking these longer flights to realize savings and then leaving after the first flight instead of boarding a second plane.

Because Skiplagged prefers to show hidden city fares, it can offer some incredible prices that no other site can match. But jumping out of a car can be dangerous. While self-service transfers can be a hassle, they don't necessarily cause trouble for the airlines. This is not the case with skip lag. Airlines really don't like this, and getting caught could result in your ticket being canceled, your frequent flyer miles revoked, or even being banned from flying by the airline.

To its credit, Skiplagged acknowledges most of the risks, which is why it discourages regular use of hidden city tickets. It also recommends that you only travel with a backpack so that you don't risk your carry-on being checked at the gate and then arriving at a different destination than yours.

Thankfully, it's easy to remove these trips by deselecting the “Skip” filter. Even apart from hidden city fares, the website always shows great prices. It also provides “Buy” or “Watch” fare recommendations based on its historical pricing data.

However, Skiplagged lags behind other sites in terms of pre-search and post-search tools. For example, it doesn't support multi-city searches, nor does it offer the option to search using flexible dates.

Another drawback is that the initial price Skiplagged displays on the results page does not include its service fees, which ranged from $10 to $35 in our testing. Skiplagged does offer a rewards program where you can earn up to $25 for every flight or hotel you book through a link you book or someone else books through a link you share.

advantage:

  • Show hidden city flights and save big
  • Provide “buy” or “view” suggestions
  • Has rewards and referral programs

shortcoming:

  • Prices shown do not include service fees
  • Multi-city search is not supported
  • Doesn’t offer as many filters as other sites

Momondo: Best for searching filters

Website type: aggregator

As an aggregator rather than an OTA, you generally cannot book flights directly on Momondo. But it makes it easy to book directly with the airline, while also showing whether the OTA is offering the same flight at a cheaper price. You can also filter out any sites you feel uncomfortable with, or even select “airlines only.”

Momondo has the same filters as its sister site Kayak, and lots of them. In fact, both sites scored top marks for filtering options. You can filter results by airline, alliance, cabin, seat selection, baggage, trip duration, number of stopovers, and more.

Although the functionality of both sites is very similar, we chose Momondo because of the unique pricing charts and insights it offers. At the top of the results page, you'll see a chart showing daily pricing for the days before and after the selected date.

Additionally, you can click the expandable Insights menu at the top of the page to see the cheapest months, days of the week, times of day, and airlines for your route. You'll also learn how far in advance you should typically book flights to your destination to get the lowest fares.

Since Momondo itself does not sell flights, there is no rewards program. Momondo also won't offer you any travel coverage, although the airline or OTA transferring you to may have coverage options. You won't see Momondo recommending any hop-on fares, but sometimes self-service transfer tickets from Kiwi or other OTAs will be shown. To remove these flights, you can uncheck “Show flights with self-service transfers” from the “Flight Quality” filter.

advantage:

  • Best-in-class price history charts and graphs
  • Numerous filters to help you find flights that suit your needs
  • In addition to third-party prices, the airline's own fares are also displayed

shortcoming

  • No reward program
  • No travel insurance or price protection
  • Ads at the top of search results can be misleading

Google Flights: Best for Price Prediction and Tracking

Like Momondo, Google Flights is a travel aggregator. People booking flights in the United States can choose “Book with Google.” But even in these cases, Google simply passes your message to the relevant OTA or airline. It only acts as an intermediary and does not provide any protection or reward itself. Note that Google does not provide the option to filter any OTAs, but you can filter by airline.

Google's DNA as a data company shines through Google Flights. It uses historical pricing data to tell you whether the price for your current trip is low, average or high. If Google predicts that ticket prices will drop to rock-bottom levels, it will even give you a specific date to book your tickets before prices are likely to rise again.

If prices are high and you want to keep an eye on them, Google can track them for you and Google will send you an email if the price changes for your specific day. While most competing sites also offer price alerts, Google Flights goes a step further and also offers “any date” tracking for your route. This can be a great money-saving feature for those with flexible travel plans.

Speaking of flexible travel planning, Google's Explore tool is one of the best tools available today for those who want to travel somewhere but aren't locked into a specific destination. Just enter the city you're traveling from, then enter “anywhere” in the “Destination” field. Google will then open a map view showing fares in various cities.

You can drag the map to different regions or continents and zoom in or out to focus or expand the scope. While other sites have their own “Anywhere” tools, Google is able to leverage its Google Maps data to show the top things to do in the area along with a wealth of images and traveler reviews. It's perfect for travelers who need a little inspiration.

Google Flights is one of the few websites that includes Southwest Airlines flights in its search results. It won't show the price, but it will provide a link to the Southwest page so you can check it out for yourself. Self-transfer tickets are displayed by default, but you can filter these tickets by navigating to the “Individual Tickets” filter and clicking “Hide Individual Tickets.”

advantage:

  • Robust price prediction and tracking
  • Search tools are a delight anywhere
  • Southwest Airlines flights will be shown, but not the price

shortcoming:

  • Google doesn't offer travel protection
  • No reward program
  • Can't filter out third-party sites you don't trust



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