5 Best Flight Search Engines for Finding the Cheapest Flights

Use these flight search engines to plan your next trip.

You've picked your next vacation spot, and it's time to look into flights. Where do you begin? There are several methods for researching flights, whether that's through airline websites and apps; online travel agencies (OTAs) like Expedia, Travelocity, and Orbitz; or through third-party metasearch engines.

If you're searching for the best price rather than for flights on a specific airline, you'll want to head to OTAs or metasearch engines, which will show you flight options from a variety of airlines. But a word of warning here: we don't recommend booking flights through OTAs. If something were to go wrong — a flight delay or cancellation, for instance — the airline won't be able to help you find a solution, and you'll have to work with your OTA instead. It creates an extra step in the process, and an often frustrating one at that. The pro to booking through an OTA, however, is that the prices may be cheaper than booking through an airline directly. Book via an OTA at your own risk.

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For that reason, we're focusing this list on metasearch engines, though you could still use OTAs to search for flights, then book directly with the airline, if you so choose. Plus, most metasearch engines do include pricing from OTAs if you're looking for the absolute lowest price, regardless of the booking site.

And there's one more caveat to consider: Southwest Airlines generally does not allow its flights to show up in third-party search engines or booking platforms. There is one exception, which we've mentioned below.

So, without further ado, check out our picks for the best flight search engines.

Google Flights

In the 1990s, a company called ITA built the first flight search engine called QPX to help travelers find the lowest fares. Today, it has evolved into Google Flights, a robust, user-friendly search engine that is the best across the board for researching flight options. You can use a set of filters to narrow down your options — say, by time of departure or by airline alliance — and you can even track pricing to see if it drops over time. If you're planning a trip based on cheap airfare rather than selecting a destination first, Google Flights can help you there, too. Simply leave your destination open ended when searching for flights, and Google Flights will show you a map of airfare prices across the globe. 


Though Kayak is often lumped into the OTA category, it's actually a metasearch engine. That means you can't buy tickets via Kayak itself, but rather Kayak redirects you to airline sites or OTAs for booking. While Kayak hits all the highlights of major metasearch engines, such as search filters and price alerts, it stands out among competitors because it does include Southwest flights. But it does so in a specific capacity: it's only available for users with a (free) Kayak business account. Other things we like about Kayak include a feature called Fee Assistant, which helps calculate baggage fees, and Hacker Fares, which allows you to price out one-way fares on separate airlines. These fares may be cheaper than booking round-trip tickets with a single airline.


A sister site to Kayak, Momondo offers pretty much all the same services, including Hacker Fares, though it doesn't have Fee Assistant. What we like better about Momondo, however, is the fact that it automatically shows you flight prices for the days before and after your target travel dates, which could help you snag some pretty big flight deals. It also offers flight insights between your origin and destination, which includes stats like the cheapest month, day of the week, and time of day to travel. Plus, overall it's a very user-friendly site in terms of design.


Skyscanner is a classic flight metasearch engine, but it has some particular strengths over its competitors. First, it has a cheapest month feature that can help you pick the best time to visit a destination based on cheap airfare. Second, it includes some smaller OTAs which may help you find even cheaper prices than what's offered by the larger OTAs (again, we don't recommend booking through OTAs, so do so at your own risk). And third, it can be better than competitors at finding the lowest prices for last-minute flights.

Expert Flyer

Expert Flyer is indeed best for expert flyers. This tool requires a paid subscription, for which it has some very advanced features that go far beyond a simple flight search.  But it comes in particularly handy for flight searches by allowing you to search for award fare availability. As we said, this is best for expert flyers, as it requires pretty substantial airline knowledge to maximize its use, and its user interface isn't the most intuitive.

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