So, you want to go on a trip—perhaps somewhere exotic? Somewhere familiar? Somewhere where the dollar will go far? Sounds great. Step one: find a flight.
With the seemingly one million flight finder sites available to us today, which one should we use? And more important, which one will actually land us the best deal? To find out, we decided to compare two of the most popular search engines, Kayak and Skyscanner—see who wins!
Both Kayak and Skyscanner will let you search for flights by specific destination and select roundtrip or one-way—pretty standard in the world of airline booking. Both also let you choose the number of connecting flights you’re willing to take and provide the option to specify particular flight times in which you would like your flight to be during.
For a dose of inspiration—or to cure indecisiveness—we love the “explore” feature on both sites. This lets you select your home airport, specific dates or an entire month, and see airfares all around the world. However, we like Kayak’s explore feature better because it’s displayed on an interactive map—whereas Skyscanner puts them in a list.
When you find roundtrip airfare that looks pretty good, but don’t know when or if the price is going to go up or down—what do you do? Luckily, Kayak gives a recommendation: “book now” or “wait” along with a projected graph for how prices will change so you can pinpoint exactly when to book. You can also sign up for “price alerts” and Kayak will email you when fares reach their lowest.
Both services scour the web for the best deals, not favoring specific engines or airlines—although we should note that Kayak is owned by Priceline. We like that Kayak has a “+/- 1-3 days” option to help find the best fares if you’re indifferent about leaving on a Thursday or Friday.
But time and time again, it’s 100% true that Skyscanner has found the cheapest fares for our travels—especially for long-haul flights. It also helps with our indecisiveness as it displays flights by the cheapest, fastest and best route so we can easily make a quick decision.
Both flight finder sites offer to book hotels and a rental car, making both websites and apps a one-stop-shop. Kayak has recently expanded its booking offerings, and given that it’s owned by Priceline who also owns Booking.com, the site is able to shave off a few bucks from hotel rates and offer additional expertise.
Pro Tip: And of course, don’t forget to clear your cookies. The easiest way to go about this is to open a “private” window in Safari or “incognito” window in Chrome and then begin your quest for finding the best deals on airfare.
Ready? Jet. Go!
While the winner is Kayak for all its bells and whistles, if you are on the hunt for the bare-bones cheapest flight, use Skyscanner. That said, we still recommend all overachieving travelers out there use both services. It can’t hurt and only takes a few more minutes to scour both.
Annie’s based in Los Angeles but hails from Portland, Oregon. Sort of. She moved to six states by the time she reached middle school, and continues to move around the US and abroad – call her a nomad, but she prefers “Location ADHD.” After studying abroad in New Zealand, Annie circled the globe, graduated from USC, and circled the world once again. For one year she lived out of a backpack everywhere from The Philippines to Nepal to Slovenia to Norway. She’s a curry connoisseur and passionate explorer, taking the road less traveled, the “trail” covered in vines and swarmed in exotic bugs. Foreign lands feel like home, and Annie loves encouraging more and more people to utilize their passports and experience a new culture.