Whether we're looking to snag the best seats on the plane, trying to pack for an international trip, or hoping to make it through the TSA security checkpoint without holding up the line, we often turn to the experts to gain insider tips that'll make our travels easier and more enjoyable. When it comes to planning a getaway, we've found that there's one tedious task with the potential to make or break a trip before we even start thinking about packing our bags: searching for the best flight deal.
To find out which flight search engines we should be using to score the lowest fares once and for all, we tapped Scott Keyes of Scott's Cheap Flights who swears by two sites for finding the ultimate deals. "95% of the time Google Flights and Momondo are going to cover exactly what you need," says Keyes. "You can search elsewhere, but these are metasearch sites that search other search sites, so they tend to cover the results from Priceline, Orbitz, Expedia, and other places like that, so there's no need to search those separately."
Ahead a travel insider reveals the best flight search engines for scoring the cheapest fares. (That way you can spend more of your hard-earned money on beverages with little umbrellas once you land.)
Why travel insiders love it.
"The reason I like Google Flights so much is that I can search a ton of different fares all at the same time," says Keyes. "Not only do you have all the results for the dates you put in, but then you click the calendar and the fares come up for every single month and you can just scroll through the months and it highlights in green the cheapest fare available," he adds. "Normally, you would have to do another search to view specific dates, but with [Google Flights], you can just super-easily and quickly scroll through the results."
"You can also search up to five airports all at the same time, and what it'll do (again, in this calendar function) is show you the cheapest fare for any of those routes over any of those different months. You can scroll through the calendar and it instantaneously brings up the cheapest fare for any of the routes on that date. So it's one of the quickest ways to be doing a ton of searches all at once."
"The other nice thing I like about Google Flights is the 'Explore Destination' function, which looks like Google Maps but is populated with tons of little dots that represent a different fare," he adds. "So you can zoom in and look at a specific destination like Western Europe and search for cheap flights in any given region on this easy-to-use Google Map."
"The reason Google Flights isn't the only [flight search engine] that I use is that it draws its fare data from only a handful of sources, either directly from the airlines or some of the biggest online travel agencies (OTAs)," explains Keyes.
Some of the OTAs "you've heard of include Expedia, Priceline, Orbitz, and places like that, but there are a ton of other OTAs that exist out there that oftentimes have a lot better prices than what you'd see" on Google Flights, he explains.
Want to get away?
Search flights to India. "It used to be extremely rare to see flights to India under $1000 round-trip, and they're usually closer to $1500," says Keyes. "Nowadays, it's more and more common to see flights to India from a lot of places in the U.S. in the $500 to $600 range round-trip. Oftentimes on really good airlines as well."
Or book a trip to Kenya. "Historically, it was rare to see flights to Nairobi under $1500 or $1000," explains Keyes. "Now we're starting to see it in the $500 to $600 range."
Why travel insiders love it.
"Momondo is really good at searching the dozens and dozens and dozens of other OTAs that exist out there in a way that Google Flights doesn't," explains Keyes.
Keyes advises "using Google Flights to find the cheapest availability and the best dates, and then searching those dates in Momondo to make sure that you're getting the best price possible."
"There's no flex calendar searching," says Keyes. "If you're not sure of your dates, you can't search them all at once and you can't search multiple airports at once either. And it's a lot slower for the results to come up."
Want to get away?
Search flights to Italy. "Historically, Italy was one of the more expensive places to go to in Europe. You could get cheap flights to Spain, France, Germany, and England, but Italy was typically expensive," says Keyes. "But it's come way down in price lately. Recently, we sent a deal from New York to Rome nonstop in the mid-$300s round-trip."
Or book a trip to Barcelona, Madrid, or Amsterdam. "Flights used to be $700 to $800 round-trip, but it's now very common to see flights in the mid-$300s round-trip from the U.S.," divulges Keyes. "We've been sending a lot of those out to our email list recently."