Flight search online has taken over the trip or call to the travel agent, for most of us at least, but sometimes the amount of choice, and analysing what's put in front of you in a couple of seconds whilst the search engine clicks through thousands of options can be somewhat daunting.
With the major airlines there aren’t a lot of deals usually – you want to go from A-B non-stop on the day of your choice? You’ll have to bite the bullet and pay the price although you may get a better price depending on which flight you pick. However if you have a bit of flexibility and don’t mind a change of planes along the way (if you have to) you can find some very good savings. Having said that, if you normally use a specific airline and you're well entrenched in their loyalty program it can be worth sticking to them even if you have to pay slightly more - for the free flights you should get eventually.
The best deals are to be found if you don't care which airline, what time, can choose your date and can book well in advance.
Look out if you're just searching on price for the following pitfalls:
The time of your connecting flight – make sure there’s enough time for both you and your bags to make the connection particularly if you have to go through immigration. If you're flying to the US or via the US anywhere you have to go through immigration, collect your bag, go through customs and then re-check your bag (which usually takes a couple of minutes).
If you don't allow enough time you may make it if you run, but your bag may not.......or vice versa.
The connecting airport – on many cheaper plane-change flights you have to change airport as well, not just terminal, so you may fly into JFK New York but fly out of La Guardia. Watch for this one
Overnight stop – the savings in your fare can be lost in the need for an overnight hotel, compounded by a late arrival and early connection. I would avoid this one if you can. Seriously. And no one wants to spend the night in the airport…..
Places to Compare Flights: Both perform the same function, but you may find slightly different options and have a different interface so it’s worth checking to see which one you like using the best.
Kayak is the easy to use quick click and compare website comparing hundreds of travel sites at once, created by the cofounders of Expedia, Travelocity and Orbitz.
Once you choose a flight you have choices of where to book, and inevitably you can then go on to book your hotel and car rental. There are website and mobile apps and Kayak is extremely easy to navigate.
Skyscanner - the one I use the most - is a fast travel search site providing instant online comparisons for millions of flights on over a thousand airlines, as well as car hire and hotels.
Skyscanner’s flexible search options mean you can browse prices across a whole month, or even a year, allowing you to get the best deals. You always book direct with the airline or travel agent, so you get the lowest price with no added commission. Skyscanner is also a no fuss extremely fast search engine with apps for mobile.
Even if you know which airline you want to use it's worth selecting that airline on one of the above flight search engines, as you'll see more options on the page than you would on their own site (and trust me I know these things). Then it's easier to choose your flight. Flight prices are now differentiated by so many things such as the number of seats left that you want as much choice displayed as clearly as possible.
Most importantly don’t be in a hurry when booking your flights. Allow plenty of time and you will, with the help of these great websites, come up with the best solution.