Flight search engines and booking flights – where to begin?

Like most things on the Internet,  there is an overload of choice when it comes to flight search engines.  Which one should I use, does it matter when I fly or when I book, should I book directly with the airline website once I’ve found a deal … at times it can get rather overwhelming.

On this note, I’d like to share my experiences and what I’ve learnt over the past few years.

Which search engine should I use?

My preferred search engine is Skyscanner (www.skyscanner.net).  Not only has this site consistently found the ‘best deal but I find the site super-easy to navigate.

Even better than the website in my opinion is the app. Not only is it effortless to use but the filter feature is simply phenomenal as it allows you to easily filter for times, ‘flight duration (if you only wanted to go direct, for example), airlines (if you had a specific preference) and airports.

And my favourite tip … if you type in ‘Everywhere’ as the destination it returns the ‘cheapest ‘flights from your selected departure. Using this feature, I recently found a return ‘flight to Oslo for £33 so I’m heading there this weekend!

Here are a few other sites I’ve used frequently (I always check at least three when searching):

Cheapoair – www.cheapoair.com

Kayak – www.kayak.co.uk

Travelocity – www.travelocity.com (this has many country specific sites you can select from)

edreams – www.edreams.co.uk

Does it matter when I fly or book?

This may seem obvious but flights on Friday and Sunday nights are almost always the most expensive. Flights on a Monday come a close second and if at all possible, try fly mid-week.

Similarly, the more convenient times are most times the most expensive simply because not everyone wants to have to get up at 3am to make their 6.30 am flight. I have lost count how many 4 am airport buses I’ve had to catch since I moved to London!

What is crazy, though, is how even a hour can make a huge difference on the price so before you book that 7 pm flight, ask your boss if you can come in a hour earlier and work through lunch to catch the 5 pm flight.

In terms of booking, I have often found that booking at a funny time (say 2 am) yields a better price simply because there is less traffic at that time. I’ve also read that many airlines who receive cancellations do not update their records until the end of the calendar day, at midnight, so waiting until just after midnight to try to purchase may result in more available seats and potentially better prices.

Should I check with the airline website directly?

There is certainly no harm in double checking with the airline website directly before you buy. In my experience, though, this often doesn’t make much difference although like I said, there is certainly no harm in trying.

So that’s a few tips and thoughts to hopefully save you some cash when you book your next flight.

Finally, please let me know which search engines you use and what experiences you’ve had – I’d love to hear from you!

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