This might actually be the trickiest part of putting all your travels together. There are SO many different search engines and booking platforms on the internet, all of them with different offers, promises and guarantees, that one who is new to the world of this can only get confused. The following should help you find a solid guideline on where to look for purchasing flights around the world.
There are some general differences you should know about booking platforms. Essentially, there are three different types:
- Metasearch engines (such as Kayak or Momondo)
- Search engines (booking platforms or online travel agencies such as Opodo or Expedia)
- The provider itself (airlines such as British Airways or Etihad)
We are guessing this sounds a little confusing, so let’s go through a simplified example:
An airline (e.g. Etihad) offers its flights directly to you, so you can purchase it straight from the airline.
They also offer flights to online travel agencies (e.g. Expedia), normally at a lower price, because they (Expedia) buy a lot of flight tickets at the same time, which they then sell to you. They will offer flights from lots of other airlines (British Airways, United, etc.) as well, so you can compare the prices of lots of different airlines.
Then the metasearch engines (e.g. Kayak) compare all the different offers from all the different online travel agencies (Expedia, Opodo, Seat24, etc.) so you’ll definitely get the best overview there. However, due to the enormous amount of data, not everything is always perfectly accurate.
After learning a whole lot about this just through our own experience, we can give you solid advice on what to use, so that you can quickly get the best price for what you’re looking for:
If you’re new to this, or want more advice on the whole process of finding the cheapest or best value tickets, have a look at our full instructions on how to find cheap airfares here.
This is a quick overview of our favourite websites and tools to book flights:
- ITA Matrix Software: Definitely our favourite tool for long-haul flights. You can literally do anything, from filtering specific airlines or aircraft, to setting a certain routing or your preferred connecting times, building in an overnight stop, and a whole lot more, this is for sure the most advanced tool out there.
The catch: You won’t be able to find low cost airlines on here, and you won’t be able to use it properly, if you don’t have fairly good knowledge of the airline and airfare market. But that’s why we’ve got an awesome tutorial for you right here!
If you’re new to ITA Matrix or want help in mastering the software, read our beginners and how to guide on ITA Matrix!
- Kayak: Probably our favourite website to get a quick and good overview of every airline out there. It’s easy to use, straight forward, and finds everything from small regional or low cost airlines to the well established international carriers. They’ve got a lot of useful gadgets like credit card cost overviews or price alarms too.
- Momondo: Essentially a metasearch engine the same as Kayak, but the user interface isn’t quite as good. They tend to offer prices from a wider range of booking platforms than Kayak, however some of the really cheap ones are not reputable. So it’s worth a look, but we prefer Kayak.
- Skyscanner: Often known as THE tool for cheap travel, it can be awesome under certain circumstances, but completely useless for others. Skyscanner lets you search with an extremely high flexibility, but therefore, unless you search for one specific day, only relies on what other people have found before, rather than actively searching for new offers.
So when you live in a place that many people want to fly out from, and you just want a cheap getaway anytime to anywhere, it’s perfect! You can for example search for a flight from all of the UK to any destination worldwide, on any date in the upcoming year.
- Grab a seat: A great website, but only if you’re searching for flights leaving from New Zealand. They take very empty Air New Zealand flights and sell the seats at heavily discounted prices. How does Auckland nonstop to the states from 290USD each way sound? Check it out here!
- Skiplagged: This is a bit of a tricky one and you shouldn’t use it if you have no previous experience. It’s especially useful, if you want a oneway ticket in certain regions (preferably in North America), and most of the time it works, if you travel with hand luggage only. Here you will find a whole article about this very special website, that can save you a lot of money, if used correctly.
Do you have any further questions, additional tips to add to our list, or you just enjoyed and found this useful? If so, do not hesitate to comment below on your thoughts! We love hearing from you guys! 🙂 Happy Travels!
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