Updated: Jan 19
Booking flights is one of the most exciting parts about traveling, but making sure you get the best deal, booking at the most cost-effective day of the week, and ensuring you picked the correct airport codes for the correct city can be confusing and time-consuming. That is why I have created this guide to the top 3 best websites for booking your next flight.
1. Google Flights (Most Recommended)
My favorite website for researching flights is Google Flights: https://www.google.com/flights
Google flights has many different features that makes choosing the best flights at the best price easy and clear. The platform is user-friendly, up to date, and offers flights options with 20+ different flight carriers (not all carriers are listed on Google flights including some of the lesser-known budget carriers). On this search engine, you can research one-way flights, round-trip flights and multi-city flights. Google also offers filters to narrow down the flights that are available given your search criteria. Google features filters include:
Stops - the number of stops your flight will require in order to get from your departure city to your arrival city.
Nonstop: 1 Flight from departure city to arrival city (direct)
1-Stop: 2 Flights from departure city to arrival city (you will de-plane 1 time)
2 -Stop: 3 Flights from departure city to arrival city (you will de-plane 2 times)
Airlines - The air carrier(s) that will sell you seats on their planes. Your flights can be scheduled with the same or different carriers.
For example, you have booked a flights from Boston to Mexico City: your first flight is from Boston (BOS) to Monterrey (MTY) on VivaAerobus and your flights from Monterrey (MTY) to Mexico City (MEX) on Frontier.
*Beware of booking flights with multiple airlines. This can cause major problems if there are any delays, changes, or cancellations with one carrier: see '5 Flight Precautions to Take When Booking Flights' for more buyer warnings.
Bags - The number of luggage items included in the pricing.
*Be careful with this feature as Google flights is not always up to date on this as carriers can change their policies without warning Google.
Price - A sliding scale of the price of the flight.
*Additional costs may be incurred for baggage, taxes, fees, upgrades, etc
Time - The time of day of the flight. You can filter by the time of day of both the departure flight and the arrival flight.
Emission - If you are interested in choosing only low-carbon emission flights: Learn more here about carbon emission estimates on Google Flights
Connecting airports - The layover duration and/or layover city. This will become extra useful in case you want to plan a forced stopover.
Duration - The full length of travel time from departure city to arrival city.
Bonus Features - Google flights also offers features such as:
'Track Prices' which will notify you by email whether the flight price is rising or falling
'Date Grid' in case your travel dates are flexible and you can find the most cost-effective departure and arrival date.
'Price Graph' which will show you the price of flights over an extended period of time.
As I mentioned Google flights is MY go-to for flight scheduling, but there are other great websites below.
2. Skyscanner (Recommended for Flexible Destination Options)
Skyscanner is another flight search engine offering a similar model to Google flights. The big selling point for Skyscanner is the ability to choose 'Everywhere' as your arrival airport. This offers the option to see which dates/locations are the most cost-effective flights from your departure city. They also have an interactive calendar which depicts certain days of the month which are more and/or least expensive.
**Google has now built in this feature to their website called the 'Explore' feature with an interactive maps of all cities within the search region.
3. Hopper (Recommended Application with Alert Buy/Wait Notifications)
Hopper is a phone application which has used historical data on flights prices and will make suggestions when to 'buy' or 'wait' based on historical price predictions. Also they have extended to hotel deals and and small savings by purchasing through the Hopper app.
This application offers phone notifications to let you know when you should buy before the price increases again.
Whichever option you decide, always remember to do your research and plan ahead! The old "6-8 weeks before departure"myth has been de-bunked many times. Airlines have different promotion/marketing schedules based on the flight availability, seat capacity, and international 'holiday' calendars.
Plan ahead, do your research and happy booking!