It is possible to find cheap flights to anywhere if you know which websites to use and how to use their search tools.
It seems like every day a new flight booking site is launched. All of them claim to be the cheapest. This should be good news for travelers but in reality, it just means that with each new site that is added it becomes more difficult to find the best deals.
In this article we cover some great booking sites as well as the best flight aggregator sites. Those sites look for flights across hundreds of other booking sites and show you the best results across a range of different criteria such as price, flight duration and travel comfort.
We highlight the pros and cons of the different sites and we also put them to the test and share the actual prices we found for 2 different routes.
We also have reviews of 2 flight clubs. We are a long-term member of both clubs and love the deals that we receive in our mailbox. Flight clubs are great if you do not have the time to spend hours looking for the best deals yourself. Arguably you will benefit most if you enjoy the flexibility to travel whenever you want. Continue reading to learn all about the Dollar Flight Club and Jack’s Flight Club.
There is a really good chance that this post contains affiliate links. If you click one of them, we may receive a small commission (for which we are deeply grateful) at no extra cost to you.
How to find cheap flights?
We start by looking at various sites where you can find cheap flights.
Booking sites and aggregator sites
The airline’s own website
Booking directly on the airline’s website does have some advantages.
Airlines have introduced all kinds of special fares and some booking sites (OTA’s) don’t show all the details about the fare you’re offered. Will you get free seat selection? Do you need to pay for your checked baggage and how much?
Frequent flyers may also share my frustration that OTA’s often don’t share the exact booking class although this is an important element to know how much miles you will earn on that flight.
That’s why in some cases when you need to be 100% sure about what exactly you’re booking, the airline’s website is the place to go.
Something we don’t think about when we’re booking our tickets is delays and cancellations. But these things do happen sometimes.
In the unfortunate event that you would be confronted with them, you will be better of if you booked directly.
The fewer parties involved in your booking, the better.
If you booked directly you will be able to get in touch with your airline, if you booked with an OTA the airline will most probably direct you to your OTA to take care of things.
Airlines will not always show their cheapest rates on their website. Some airlines advertise with their best price guarantee but most of the time these are very restrictive, not to say close to worthless.
In some cases, you will, therefore, have to consider whether you want to book the best price or prefer the certainty of booking directly with the airline.
- You know exactly what you’re booking and you can directly add any extra’s (baggage, seats, …). Not all OTA’s show all the information, certainly not with all the paying extras that airlines are adding these days.
- You can contact the airline directly in case of mishaps.
- With so many airlines it’s near to impossible to find the best deals. You would need to check several dates on each airline’s website. It doesn’t harm of course to check the fare you found on the website of an OTA to see if you could book it cheaper on the airline’s website.
Momondo is not a real booking site but rather a flight aggregator site.
It compares hundreds of flight booking sites and will show the best and cheapest results. You can choose a result that pleases you and Momondo will redirect you to the booking site where the flight was found to make your booking.
The good news is that Momondo is really good at what it does. Because of the huge number of sites that it searches the results that are shown are often some of the best that can be found.
Momondo will combine two one-way tickets if that results in a better deal. These are shown with the label “mix and match”.
If none of the shown flights suit you, you can also create your own mix and match package by combining inbound and outbound flights.
A chart at the top of the results shows the price evolution for the surrounding dates. Here you can see if it would be cheaper to fly a few days earlier or later.
It is helpful although I would have preferred the ability to do a flexible search over a range of dates and airports.
The lack of this functionality is, in my opinion, the biggest drawback of the site.
Flight Insights is a neat feature that is somewhat hidden on the results page. The insights that are shown are based on Momondo’s metadata that it gathers from previous searches.
The more popular the route the more info you will find. When the route is not popular the link may not be shown.
What you can expect to find is the cheapest month to fly, how long in advance to book and the cheapest day and time to fly.
Other information that is sometimes shown is the most popular carriers and the most popular routes (in case there’re multiple airports at origin or destination).
When the info is available the link will be shown in the top-right corner of the page, in between the search fields and the graph with the prices for the return flight.
If you’re not yet ready to book you can create a price alert for your flight and you will get updates about the price in your mailbox.
- Momondo often finds good fares.
- The price insights might help you find better fares.
- Momondo lacks several features for flexible searches. To circumvent this problem I use other sites to find the best dates and then search these dates with Momondo.
Kayak is similar to Momondo in the sense that the site also searches across multiple booking sites.
Both Kayak and Momondo are part of the huge Booking Holdings group.
Kayak is apparently already better integrated, rates found on sites that are part of the group can be booked directly.
For all other sites, Kayak will redirect you to that site to complete your booking.
Kayak has tools for flexible searches.
It’s relatively easy to search for flights across a whole month and you can indicate if you want to search from nearby airports. You can’t pick the airports yourself. When you flag the checkbox Kayak will include all airports in a range of 113km around the airport you entered.
Kayak is, just like Momondo, used by millions of people worldwide. They are doing a massive amount of searches daily and based on these results Kayak gives some booking advice on the search results page.
You will see it in the top left corner of the search results. Unfortunately, it’s very simple.
Basically, it tells you to book now or wait and I’m not sure how trustworthy this is because it almost always tells me to book now.
Just below this, you will see a checkbox that allows you to track your flights and right below that is a very handy feature that will update the prices shown based on the number of bags you’re traveling with.
By default Kayak already indicates if the flights shown include hand luggage and checked luggage.
If you specify with how much luggage you will be traveling the fares will be updated to show the total price, inclusive of any applicable baggage fees.
If you have a hard time to pick a destination the Kayak Explore map might be what you need. The flight prices are shown on a world map and you can directly see where your budget can take you.
Unfortunately, this feature uses historical data and the prices are not always up to date. During our tests we often had the prices increase once we picked a destination and started booking.
Read also: How to plan your first independent vacation.
- It’s good that Kayak shows a nice overview of additional baggage fees now that airlines have introduced fees for just about anything.
- Kayak’s hacker fares, a combination of separate inbound and outbound flights, are sometimes very sweet deals.
- Kayak’s user interface used to be less intuitive but has greatly improved.
- The explore map is a nice feature but due to the historical prices rather useless. It’s frustrating that all prices are going up once you’ve clicked them.
We continue with yet another travel aggregator.
Skyscanner also searches for flights across a bunch of booking sites. You can search on specific dates, across whole months or Skyscanner can search the cheapest month for you.
When doing your searches you can indicate to include nearby airports but you can’t choose which ones that will be.
If you can’t decide where to go you can choose to enter ‘Anywhere’ in the destination field and Skyscanner will offer a list of destinations grouped by country.
Skyscanner was among the first to introduce this feature but it is time for them to update this now that others are showing these results on a map.
The prices that are shown in the ‘Anywhere’ search and the ‘monthly’ search are not always 100% accurate.
These are based on search results that were done by other users and during our tests we had both positive, where the final price was lower, and negative surprises.
If you can look through these things you will be able to find some good deals on Skyscanner.
- Manages to find good deals (see the results of our tests below).
- The search to ‘Anywhere’ is not as user-friendly as on other sites.
Expedia is a very well known name in the travel industry.
If you prefer to book everything in one place this site is what you’re looking for.
You can book flights, hotels, rental cars and even cruises on their website.
Make sure to join their loyalty program before you do so as this enables you to earn points for your bookings.
Hotel, cruises and rental car bookings earn two points for every dollar spent, flights earn 1 point for every 5 dollars spent.
The reasoning is given is that you can double dip your flights and earn both points on Expedia and miles in your airline’s frequent flyer account.
You will not earn any points for your hotel stays when you book on Expedia (or any other OTA) but instead, you will earn more points on Expedia.
Because of the low earnings on flights, the frequent flyer program is not in itself a reason to book here if you’re not booking other things on Expedia as well.
Expedia is not a site that you should expect to offer competitive prices across all destinations but my tests brought up some good value flights.
Most of the time this was for flights in the near future where the prizes on the other sites had already increased.
- The loyalty program Expedia Rewards. Expedia is one of the few sites that have such a program.
- The possibility to book everything in one place.
- Free and easy online cancellation within 24 hours (only on expedia.com, not on .co.uk or other countries’ websites and only on select flights).
- Low earnings of Expedia rewards on flights
Jetradar is relatively new, they were founded in 2012.
The website compares prices for hotels and flights.
They are not an OTA, they just compare prices and when you find a flight that pleases you Jetradar will redirect you to the actual site to complete your booking.
It is good to have a new player in the market that is not part of the large monopolistic travel groups. Jetradar finds good and competitive fares on a range of well-known and reputable OTA’s.
The drawback of Jetradar is that at this point they don’t give as much information about your travel fare (eg. baggage included or not) as some of the other sites in this list.
You will have to click-through to the OTA to get the details and see the price inclusive of baggage fees.
- Very competitive fares (see the results of our tests below).
- Not as much information regarding extra fees.
Google flights only launched in 2011, this makes it one of the younger players in this list.
Their intuitive and fast interface has made it one of my favorites in a short time.
The search engine comes with many tools that make it easy to filter your results and search across different dates and different airports. The explore map, similar to the one that Kayak has, shows where you can fly with the budget you have.
Unlike Kayak, the prices shown on this map are accurate and can be found when you want to book them.
Does this make Google Flights the perfect site to book your flights? Unfortunately not.
First I should say that Google Flights is not an actual booking site but a flight aggregator. It will redirect you to the site where it found the fare to complete your booking. Second, Google flights is not searching across a wide range of competitive sites so the fares it finds can almost always be found cheaper elsewhere.
I always start my searches on Google Flights because I like their tools so much and they make it easy to get an idea on what dates I should be able to find the best prices.
With that info, I move to other sites to find the best prices on those specific dates.
- Fast and reliable. The results are shown really fast and even the Explore map shows accurate results.
- Many tools to help you search across a wide range of dates and airports really quick.
- Not the best prices.
- You need to know how to use the tools but once you do you cannot miss them anymore.
Kiwi.com focuses primarily on low-cost carriers. These carriers have one huge drawback, they’re poor at providing connecting flights. Connecting flights with one airline can usually be booked, although with several limitations. But connections to other airlines, which are a common thing with all other airlines, are non-existent.
This is one area where such low-cost airlines save money. Unfortunately, it means that your options to fly transcontinental with low-cost airlines are rather limited. You could buy several separate tickets but you would then have to puzzle your entire route together yourself.
This not only takes time, but it also has a major drawback. Your connections are not guaranteed. If your first flight arrives late and you don’t make it on time for your second flight you will need to buy a new ticket at the full price.
This is where Kiwi.com offers a solution.
The Kiwi.com guarantee covers your connections when your itinerary involves several separate tickets from low-cost carriers.
You no longer risk that you need to buy a new ticket if your first flight arrives late.
The website also has very powerful search tools. You can do very powerful searches looking for the cheapest flights over several months. You can also search from entire regions instead of just specific airports. The icing on the cake is the search to anywhere which gives you the cheapest holiday destinations for your chosen period.
Kiwi.com does not only work for low-cost carriers. It returns results for both legacy carriers as well as low-cost airlines.
- KIWI.com guarantee for connections on low-cost carriers.
- The most advanced search functionalities of all sites in this list.
- It takes some time to get used to the interface and discover all the possibilities.
Trip.com is a Chinese online travel agency. The site is available in 19 different languages (including English, Dutch, German, French and Spanish) and can be used to book everything from Rail Travel, over car rentals and airport shuttles to flights.
The site deserves a spot on this list because it has access to fares not found on other sites, certainly when it comes to flights to Asia and within Asia. During our last trip to China, we booked first-class flights on Trip.com for the same price that we found economy flights on other sites. An incredible deal.
- Interesting fares to Asia and within Asia
- Limited search capabilities. You can only search on specific days and for specific airports.
Other online travel agents
The list of Online Travel Agents seems to be endless. You have Hotwire, Vayama, and Orbitz to name just a few. Unlike Expedia, most of these sites do not have an interesting rewards program. Orbitz’s program comes closest to Expedia rewards.
None of them came up with interesting prices when I ran these tests and, unless you can find a very good deal on these sites, I would always advise booking directly with the airline. The fewer parties involved in a booking the better.
By booking direct you will be able to negotiate directly with the airline in case of cancellations or other unexpected events. I also find that any extras (think baggage fees, seat fees, etc.) are usually most clearly disclosed on the airline’s own website.
In some cases you can find good deals by booking packages, a combination of flights + hotel or flights + rental cars. It may be worthwhile to see if you can save by booking such a package.
Expedia is our first choice for booking such packages because they have the best rewards program.
What is the cheapest site to book?
Now that we have discussed the pros and cons of the websites let’s have a look at the actual ticket prices that they managed to find.
I tested two different scenarios.
One transcontinental ticket from New York to Los Angeles for the near future. January 11 to January 18, at the time of booking just 1 month ahead.
The second flight I checked was an intercontinental flight to Tokyo. I booked this one well in advance and I look for prices in the popular summer vacation. We leave from Los Angeles on July 11 and fly back from Tokyo on July 25.
Here’s a small word of explanation about how I do the tests: To see the full potential of the sites I do not strictly enforce the dates nor the airports. If they offer to fly from nearby airports or nearby dates and this results in cheaper flights I follow their suggestions.
None of them came back with such suggestions this time and I did not use the date grids or charts to search for cheaper dates myself.
As a result, all flights are on the exact same dates.
Flights with 2 or more stops or with exceptionally long layovers of 5 hours or more were not retained.
Without further ado, here are the results.
|NYC - Los Angeles|
Jan 11 - Jan 18
|Los Angeles - Tokyo|
Jul 7 - Jul 25
|Momondo|| $ 184 (1 stop)|
$ 184 (direct)
|$ 1113 (1 stop)|
$ 1070 (direct)
|Momondo has the best flights from NYC to LA|
|Skyscanner||$ 211 (1 stop)|
$ 197 (direct)
|$ 974 (1 stop)|
$ 974 (direct)
|Skyscanner has the cheapest flights from LA to Tokyo|
|Kayak||$ 197 (1 stop)|
$ 197 (direct)
|$ 1075 (1 stop)|
$ 1075 (direct)
|Expedia||$ 206 (1 stop)|
$ 197 (direct)
|$ 1167 (1 stop)|
$ 1183 (direct)
|Google Flights||$ 211 (1 stop)|
$ 218 (direct)
|$ 1075 (1 stop)|
$ 1183 (direct)
|Kiwi.com||$ 215 (1 stop)|
$ 215 (direct)
|$ 1134 (1 stop)|
$ 1011 (direct)
|Trip.com||$ 233 (1 stop)|
$ 191 (direct)
|$ 1028 (1 stop)|
$ 976 (direct)
|Trip.com is a close second to Tokyo|
|Jetradar||$ 200 (1 stop)|
$ 193 (direct)
|$ 1081 (1 stop)|
$ 983 (direct)
Cheap Flight Clubs
The way these clubs work is actually very straight forward. A team of people assisted by some smart and powerful computer algorithms is constantly scanning the airfare inventories. Whenever they find fares that are significantly lower than usual they will send out alerts to their members.
The major difference between these clubs and flight comparison sites is that these clubs will come up with great deals to any destination at any time of the year. Flight comparison sites will only allow you to compare flight prices to a certain destination at a certain date. You get the biggest benefit from these clubs if you are flexible.
All you have to do to sign-up is share your e-mail address and where you live. Both clubs offer a free entry program as well as a premium program with extra benefits.
As soon as a deal passes that appeals to you book it on the website of your choice. The e-mail will mention where the best rates can be found and on which dates but you’re free to book where you want. This means that you can also book these deals for your friends and family who don’t have a subscription.
All you have to do is be fast, the best deals are gone after a few days.
We’re subscribed to two clubs, Jack’s Fight Club and Dollar Flight Club. Here’s our experience with both of them.
Dollar Flight Club (DFC)
The Dollar Flight Club originated in the United States when Jesse, the founder, and a real travel hacker, thought he would help his friends and family to travel inexpensively like he had been doing for the last years.
DFC is originally American, they’re best at finding incredibly cheap deals originating in the US but they’re gradually expanding their reach to find cheap flights that originate in other regions.
At this point, they’re already at more than 1500 departure airports across more than 100 countries.
The Free Plan
If you’re always on the look-out for good flight deals then there’s no reason why you shouldn’t want to sign up for the free plan. It’s free, so there’s no harm.
The free plan gives you a taste of what the service is about but it comes with some limitations. You will only receive a fraction of the deals that the premium members receive and premium members will be the first to hear about new deals. They’re sent out a little later to free members.
The Premium Plan
The Premium Plan is for those who want to take full advantage of the DFC. Premium members receive all the deals as soon as they’re found. In addition, they get access to the app which will alert them as soon as a new deal is found.
Another advantage of the premium plan is that users can personalize their deals by choosing their preferred airports and airlines in their dashboard. (Know however that by choosing preferred airlines your deals will not be restricted to only those airlines)
Over the weekend you will also receive the weekend warrior deals, an overview of some amazing good domestic flight deals.
The very best deals are only sent out to premium members so if you really want to discover if signing up for the Dollar Flight Club is worth it, you better sign-up for the 14-day free trial of the Premium Plan. You can cancel for free anytime during the first 2 weeks and this free trial will be the best way to evaluate if the premium plan’s price is worth it for you.
The Premium Plus plan
Just this November DFC have launched their Premium Plus subscription for those who have always dreamed of traveling upfront in Business and First for economy prices. Below is an example mail of a recent Premium Plus deal to Barcelona.
Is Dollar Flight Club worth it?
The low yearly cost of $69 for the premium plan is easily earned back with just 1 flight and the same is true for the yearly cost of $99 for the premium plus plan.
The DFC is definitely more valuable to travelers who are flexible. Some of the deals are valid for several months but others can only be booked on very specific dates.
US Citizens will also benefit more than other users. As a premium user, I got deals on average only once a week for my home airports but as soon as I added some US airports to my selection I started getting several emails each day of the week.
To benefit the most I suggest choosing your departure airports wisely. Add any airports that you’re willing to depart from (the more the better) and preferably larger airports which serve as a hub for major airlines.
Jack’s Flight Club
Jack’s Flight Club started sending out cheap-flight alerts in the UK in September 2016. Originally only for flights leaving from the UK or Ireland but since then they also started covering other airports in Northern Europe.
The Free Plan
Signing up for the free plan is free so what are you waiting for. You have nothing to lose and can potentially save several hundred dollars.
Free members will receive on average one or two deals every week.
The Premium Plan
Members of the premium plan receive four or five deals a week. Once you’re a premium member you get all the alerts first, giving you first dibs over free members. You can also set your preferred departure airports giving you better control over the deals you receive.
Premium members also receive the bonus weekend-trip email rounding up short-haul flight deals and they have access to a special premium members portal with an overview of all the deals.
The premium plan has a 30-day money-back guarantee.
Is Jack’s Flight Club worth it?
If you live in Europe then you will benefit more from Jack’s Flight Club than Dollar Flight Club.
US Citizens, on the other hand, will benefit more from the Dollar Flight Club.
The same can be said about Jack’s Flight Club than what we said about the Dollar Flight Club. The low yearly cost of £35 for the premium plan is easily earned back with just 1 flight. Those who will most likely be able to snap up those very good deals are those who are flexible.
Alternatives for finding cheap flights to anywhere
These booking sites and flight clubs are not the only way to find cheap flights to anywhere.
Many travel enthusiasts share the flight deals they find online for free in forums and on websites. One such popular website is fly4free.
I try to visit this website often, but I notice that it often doesn’t happen due to the busyness of the day. The deals are usually gone after 1 or 2 days and I have missed countless deals because I sometimes don’t visit the site for weeks.
That’s why I prefer subscription services such as the above flight clubs where the deals are sent to your inbox and you can’t miss them.
You could also sign up for a travel rewards credit card. Earning travel rewards points and miles is one of the quickest ways to travel for less.
As our tests showed out it’s hard to identify one specific site as the best of them all.
Momondo is a site that I always check. It’s the first place I go to after searching for dates on Google Flights. This is the third time I update this article and Momondo was always among the winners.
Skyscanner is another site worth checking before you buy.
They offered the best fare to Tokyo in this test and from experience I know that they regularly find good deals.
Trip.com was beaten by Skyscanner this time but only by a few dollars. When looking for flights to Asia (or within Asia) make sure to check this site, they often have very good deals.
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