Does the stress of comparing airline ticket prices make you want to avoid traveling altogether?
Planning a vacation, business trip, or family visit is difficult enough. But when you add multiple competing airlines and confusing discount packages into the mix, it can feel impossible. That's why airline ticket sites were invented. They compare offerings from tons of different airlines so you don't have to.
Different sites come with their own benefits and drawbacks. The right one for you will mostly depend on your needs. We've taken a look at the top five sites for buying airline tickets.
Top 5: Airline Ticket Sites Review
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Priceline is one of the most well-known travel booking websites on the market. Not only can you compare airline packages, but you can also book hotels, cars, and cruises. Customer support is available 24/7, and the company gives a price match guarantee if you find a better deal elsewhere.
The biggest selling point of the service is that they give you access to deals that you can't get with basic airline comparisons. For the purposes of this article, we've just looked at the flights and flight bundle options.
To compare flights, you just need to enter into the homepage form:
Upon entering this information, you'll be shown a number of flight itineraries with the lowest price first. Information is provided for both departure and return flights, including:
Some itinerary options might have special notices on them, like if it's an "early bird" flight or if the airline regulations are very restrictive.
After inputting a flight, you can also browse flight and hotel bundle deals. The website will automatically find hotel options at your destination for the length of your stay.
Each hotel listing has a star rating, location, and basic listed amenities. The total hotel-and-plane bundle price is listed alongside the higher price to book separately.
You can narrow down your flight and hotel options by using the comprehensive filtering system. With hotels, there's even a map that lets you more precisely pinpoint the area where you want to be staying.
Kayak is a travel booking site that specializes in finding flights and hotels. You can also rent cars, find multi-booking packages, and search for specific deals if you're looking for discounted flight options. The service lets you create restaurant reservations and has a restaurant-based rewards program.
One of the biggest appeals of Kayak is that the website helps give you ideas for your next vacation or travel plan. With the Guides feature, you can read about the real travel experiences and must-see advice of people who have gone to different destinations.
The Routes feature is ideal for those who want to do more serious research into what their flight options are. When you enter a departure airport, you'll be shown the direct routes flown to airports throughout the United States and the rest of the world.
This means that if you're looking for a nonstop flight to a certain city or destination, you can use the Routes map to quickly narrow down which airlines have that flight path in their database.
Paired with this is the Direct option, which shows much of the same information in list form. When you input a departure airport, you'll be told what direct flights are available to different destinations from different airlines. The site gives you an estimated trip mileage as well.
The Explore option is built for people who want to travel but don't have a destination in mind. When you input your departure airport and budget, you'll be shown flights to different cities that work within your budget. This lets you start planning your next adventure.
The flight finding and hotel bundle features work very similarly to Priceline, generating an itinerary and multiple options. This service sorts offers by the best, cheapest, and quickest options, so you can choose depending on your priorities.
Trip.com is a travel booking site that allows you to book cars, trains, hotels, and flights.
For flight options, you just need your departure and return dates, departure and return destinations, class, number of passengers, and the type of flight. In addition to one-way and round-trip options, you can also choose "multi-city," which allows you to book multiple flights between multiple destinations. Non-stop only flights can be specified.
The multi-city feature makes it easy to make complicated travel plans if you need to travel to a lot of cities over the course of a few weeks. For example, public speakers and lecturers might make use of the option when they plan their circuits.
When you enter your information, you'll be given a list of choices including:
The flight itinerary tells you the entire trip duration, number of stops, length of layover time, departure and arrival times, airline, and basic price.
The Onetravel booking site allows you to browse vacation packages and book rental cars, hotels, and flights. It is best optimized for airline packages, though, with data and booking options from more than 600 airlines. Many listings have advanced seat choosing options, and each booking comes with an instant confirmation.
You can use the homepage search feature to find flights with the same basic info used by other sites. Like the previous option, this includes multi-city as well as one-way and round trip options.
You can also include advanced options in your initial search:
When giving passenger information, you can indicate if passengers meet any of the following criteria:
While the listings don't have as many sorting options as some, you can choose between looking at the cheapest and the shortest options. The company offers a price match guarantee if you find cheaper deals anywhere else.
An initial search can turn up hundreds of results. You can refine it with advanced filtering options, although these can be a little unwieldy to set. In addition, you can set up alerts for when the fare on your preferred flight drops.
Jetradar helps you find flights and hotels, but it's much more geared toward flight comparisons. Starting a search is easy with your departure date and airport, arrival date and airport, and the number of passengers. That's all you need to pull up flights. You can also set up a multi-city itinerary from the homepage.
The initial search will show you the cheapest available options and their flight itinerary. To narrow down your options, you can use an advanced search filter system:
If you have preferences for any of these options, that can help narrow down the flights to only choices that interest you.
Another tool offered through the service is the "Low Fare Calendar." It takes a little puzzling to understand how this works, but it is a useful tool. You can view the lowest package price for different departure/arrival combinations to find the best deal for you.
As far as airline ticket sites go, we've found that it's hard to compete with Priceline. In terms of deals, there are often tickets at lower prices than you'll find through standard searching. The interface is super easy to use, and the automatic hotel bundling takes all the hassle out of booking lodging for your stay.
If you just want to find potential adventure on a budget, Kayak is the best bet. The entire site is geared toward showing you different travel options for different dates and destinations based on your budget. The system doesn't work as comprehensively for dates and destinations set in stone, though.
Frequently Asked Questions
Should I Be Aware of "Hidden Fees" When Booking Airline Tickets?
Good airline ticket sites are transparent about any fees they charge, along with any additional costs from the airline. Checking a bag may cost extra.
How Do I Pick the Best Flight?
Different people have different priorities. Maybe you just want the lowest price tag and don't care about the rest. Maybe you hate waking up for early flights, or you don't want a long layover, or you need a pet-friendly option.
As long as you're aware of what matters to you, and you look for the cheapest flight that meets those criteria, you're good to go.