Flying standby has its benefits no doubt, but paying in cash instead of paying with time and stress is sometimes not only preferred but necessary for getting to where I need to be. Also, now that I have entered the working world, flying with uncertainty during busy travel times is scary because my vacation is limited and I have hard deadlines to make.
There are numerous pleasant and user-friendly interfaces to choose from when you want to shop for airfare-you just have to know which to use!
Because of how overwhelming the choices for flight-finding sites can be, I have outlined some of my personal favorite airfare sites here:
With Momondo you can easily visualize which dates will be cheaper for you to fly in either direction with the help of bar graphs at the top of the page.
The tools on the left side of the page allow you to adjust your flight search after you are shown the cheapest possible fare to include your preferred restrictions including time of departure, number of connections and connection cities etc. This is all done easily with checking boxes or dragging parameters linearly.
My favorite features of the site: you can restrict your flight search to certain airline alliances so you can continue earning miles on carriers with which you have a frequent flyer number.
You can multi-city search to find open jaw tickets (round trip tickets that arrive and depart from different cities)
happy (or sad) faces indicate the average flying time and the price of the ticket
If you know about this site you will never need to use a travel agent for flights again. Part of my job as a travel agent is to help those that are not JUST motivated by low fares but want assistance in finding the best flight itinerary. This includes airport amenities, newer planes, inflight entertainment, seat comfort and layover times.
This site allows you to search by these factors alongside the price of the ticket so you will never need the help of a travel agent to find you happy and cheap fares, there are even cute little sayings related to your destination that show up as you wait for the results to load.
You can still easily change your search to order flights by the cheapest, fastest route and departure and arrival times if you are less concerned about the happiest route.
The site is simple to navigate even for those technologically impaired, you can search open jaw (multi-city) tickets, you can search for all airports in a city and it focuses on improving your flight experience so you can be happier when you fly.
This site wins for the cutest mascot-an adorable chipmunk who thinks he can fly.
I like the ease of multi-city search in the homepage but I think that at first glance the graphs and charts that Hipmunk displays could potentially be confusing for first-time users.This is because the display of flights is not what many people are accustomed to. Flights are displayed like events on a calendar which focus more on departure and arrival times throughout the day of the travel date you selected while corresponding with a ranked order of agony, price or duration on the left side of the page.
Another major difference between other fare-finder sites is that Hipmunk does not allow for ease of comparing fares across dates. You cannot easily tell if leaving a day prior will lower the cost.
Like routehappy, you can search for flights according to their “Agony” levels (price, duration and number of connections) but not as much is taken into consideration for these agony levels as routehappy.
An added feature that Hipmunk provides is called “Pricegraph” where you see the lowest roundtrip fares for the next 90 days and score the best deals.
For those that use google calendar you can see how flights will fit in with items on your calendar which is a nice added feature for those with busy bee lives
This site is currently being improved upon and I am hopeful that positive changes will come.
The design is very simple and clean looking-one of my favorite fare-finder website designs I have seen.
Adioso lets you search for your departure dates based on beginning, middle or end of the month you select and you can search your return flight based on the rough number of days you wish to spend at your destination (1 week, 1 month, 7-10 days, etc.) You can also search for specific dates but you cannot search for open-jaw (multi-city) itineraries.
Like Hipmunk’s “Agony” search, you can search by “Smartview” which takes the cheapest, fastest and best trip variables into account.
If you hover over the flight details on the search results you can adjust your search parameters such as the number of connections, duration and departure and arrival times.
While you cannot book flights through Adioso, the website redirects you to the sites where the fares you are seeing originate.
I really like their “Watch Prices” feature where you can sign up to be emailed when/if a flight drops to your desirable price.
I have never personally used this webservice but it is a revolutionary idea in the flight-finding world and receives rave reviews.
More than a robot displaying the best fares for you, this site uses crowdsourcing to remove the stress, time and hassle of searching dozens of other websites yourself. You pay a service fee of just $49 and in return you get registered flight experts from all over the world competing to find the best flights to your destination. No itinerary is too complex even if you are traveling with a large group, prefer to travel business class or going to remote locations (there are different fees for these options, see their website for details). In the end, after three days, you choose a winner and follow their booking instructions and they are awarded a portion of the finder’s fee. If you can provide proof of a cheaper flight within 48 hours of the end of your contest, Flightfox will refund 100% of your contest fee.
You can pay less than most travel agencies with even more people looking at options than just one travel agent. If you are looking for basic flight searches on specific dates with limited flexibility and without much complication thrown into the mix, Flightfox is probably not what you need. Additionally, oftentimes the flight experts on the site will direct you to buy flights from multiple airlines which can make the purchasing process confusing and complicated for some users. At this point, you may want to have a travel agent there to guide you.
Site to avoid: Vayama
Vayama consistently receives horrible reviews from users online and the site is not very attractive.
While you shop, check out some tips for finding the best flights: