Travel would be much more enjoyable if it weren’t for having to book a flight and put up with the actual flying part of the trip.
I don’t plan a whole lot out when I travel. Other than making a reservation for a place to stay for the first few days and the airline ticket, I tend to kind of play it day to day.
Booking a flight is like buying a car, you know what is coming and you just want it to be over. You want the new car but hate going to the dealership and dealing with the Salesman. You’re making offers and he is running back and forth to the Sales Manager presenting your offer.
When you book an airline flight you punch in the criteria you want and it starts running around to find the price. If you are like me that first price is not good enough. Just like sending the car salesman back to his manager with another offer you start looking at other booking sites thinking, “Maybe I can get a better price”. All the time hoping that in the end you got the very best deal.
Of course you know all the tricks, before booking the flight check the airline website to see if it might be cheaper there. And of course cheaper doesn’t always mean better. I mean some tickets sold on the booking sites are not authorized for upgrade, some are non-refundable, some have penalties for changing the reservation, some have baggage fees, etc. But for those of you, and I include myself in this group, that look for the best price and route, then here is the Ultimate list of Airfare Booking Sites.
Some of these you already know, some you may have seen before and forgotten about, others may be new to you.
And before we go any further I just want to say I in no way endorse any of these sites, do your own research and find one that suits you.
Expedia was initially launched in 1996 by Microsoft and later spun off. Expedia also has over 20 localized sites in other countries and own Hotwire.
Since 2000 this site has been a favorite of those seeking low cost fares. When airline seats go unsold, travel companies use Hotwire to sell them. Hotwire is an operating company of Expedia.
Priceline has been around since 1998 and offers traditional booking and Name Your Own Price, where you can bid on flights.
Originally started by a partnership of several airlines, Orbitz has been in operation since 2001. Orbitz also owns Cheaptickets.
Created in 1996 as subsidiary of Sabre Holdings and American Airlines, Travelocity also owns Lastminute.com
Starting operations in 2005, cheapOair bills itself as a full-fledged online travel agency.
Kayak is a travel search engine owned by the Priceline Group, that searches multiple sites at once. One of the cool features is Kayak explore a map based search that allows you to put in an airport and a general date you want to travel. The map then shows you locations on the map and prices. So if you’re not sure where you want to go or you want to do some exploring, it will give you suggestions.
Vayama is an online travel agency specialized in selling international travel.
CTRIP was founded in 1999 and based in Shanghai China. While you can search flights anywhere CTRIP specializes in Asian destinations with the majority of its business concentrated on Chinese destinations.
Cheapair, not to be confused with cheapOair.com, was founded in 1989 by two college buddies. In 2013, CheapAir became the first travel agency world-wide to accept bitcoin as an alternate form of payment for flights.
Founded in 1986 in Hawaii as an airline ticket consolidator now part of Orbitz.
Founded in 2010 Hipmunk has gained a lot of attention because of the way it displays the results. You can display flights by Price, duration, takeoff and landing times along with Agony which is a combination of price, number of stops and duration.
Founded in 2012 Flightfox provides a consultation service. For a fee you tell them your destination, travel dates and flexibility and their experts begin looking for the best fares and routes that suit your needs. A lot of people save money so they must be doing something right.
Momondo was launched in 2006 and is a metasearch engine that compares prices and then refers you to the site selling the ticket. At the top of the search is also a graph that shows departure and return dates for one week before and after the date you put in so you can compare different dates.
Skyscanner is also a metasearch system that allows you to put in departure city and instead of a specific arrival city just insert “everywhere”. You will get a list of destinations and prices. If you need inspiration on travel destinations to you can always buy a guidebook to give you some ideas.Like Momondo there is a chart with different dates or you can choose a calendar view.
Mobissimo was founded in 2005 and its search function aggregates results from over 150 travel suppliers.
Fly.com is owned by Travelzoo and according to its website, the site searches hundreds of airline and major travel sites for real-time fares, and even include taxes in the fare prices.
They search major domestic and international airlines, including low cost airlines, and even online travel agencies and airfare consolidators. They provide the results and then link directly to the supplier’s Web site.
Webjet has been around since 1998 and is a travel metasearch engine.
Airgorilla bills itself as a discount travel booking site by offering tickets from consolidators.
Is a travel search engine with a twist. You put in departure city and then search by destination, activity such as “best Night Markets in the World” or “Lonely Planet’s best of 2014”. You can also search by City, Continent, Country or State. For dates you can select a range of dates, the entire month or anytime.
Onetravel is owned by Fareportal, which also owns cheapOair and Farebuzz. They say they specialize in discount airfares along with Business/First Class travel, Gay and Lesbian Travel, Student Travel, Senior Travel, ethnic destinations (which is I guess anywhere but where you live) and vacation packages. So I guess they specialize in everything that has to do with travel.
Routehappy not only delivers your flight results but adds the “Happy” factor which takes a look at aircraft, seat, amenities, trip duration, and ratings then bundles that together to give you a happiness rating.
Bills itself as a Google type search engine but for flights. You can search for flights from your local airport to anywhere, anytime they just point you in the direction of the travel agent or airline after you do your search.
MakeMyTrip, India’s leading online travel company was founded in the year 2000, originally specializing in travel to and from India. Today you can search for flights worldwide.
At one point Bing had a prediction tool advising the best time to buy your ticket. Today Bing travel uses Kayak search and sends you to Orbitz to book the flight, so not sure why they even still have it.
Google Flights is an online flight booking service which facilitates the purchase of airline tickets through third party suppliers using ITA Flight Software that they purchased in 2011.
You can find other booking sites, some are affiliate sites some are regional and others just too small to list here. I have listed 26, if you can’t find an airfare booking site you like out of these then I can’t help you.
But, now that you know where the list is you can bookmark it and return whenever you need to.