ranking the best airfare websites

The 10 Best (and Worst) Airfare Search Sites for 2024

Frommer’s regularly pits the best airfare search engines, aggregators, and booking sites against each other in a battle royale to see which can find the lowest price on more than two dozen identical searches for flights. 

This year’s results bring new discoveries. We are excited to announce that none of our new top three—the best of the best—is a household name. We are equally excited to discover that if you’re specifically looking for a last-minute deal on airfare, a fourth website, one that’s not even in our top three, is the best choice. And two former airfare search sites fell out of our Top 10 entirely: This year, both Booking.com and FlightNetwork failed to take off.

As for the rest of our Top 10, each one has its pluses and minuses, which we’re about to reveal in our reviews below.

On this year’s list, two sites that previously languished in the bottom half of the reviews have upped their games and zoomed into the top ranks—and one former low performer improved so much that it nabbed the top slot.

We have winnowed down a wide field to the 10 best airfare sites for 2024. Here they are.



The Best Airfare Search Engines: A Word on Our Methodology
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A word on our methodology

We tested 15 sites on 32 itineraries, trying both last-minute flights (leaving in a week) and APEX fares (booked three months out). We covered major gateways (NYC to LAX, LAX to Hong Kong, NYC to Paris) and secondary ones (Philly to Tampa, Chicago to Rome, Miami to Rio). We threw in a curve ball (Dallas to Dubai) and included a flight with no North American legs (London to Barcelona) to see how well each handled Europe‘s wilderness of low-cost carriers.

We also ignored low fares that would be miserable to fly due to excessively drawn-out layovers, too many stops, or flying long detours just to change planes. Basically, we rejected any itinerary that increased total travel time by more than half. Airlines may think those are viable plans, but we don’t.

We then used a rigorous, weighted scoring system that rewarded three points to any airfare search site that found the best fares, two points for second-best, and so on. We also penalized fares with negative points if the price proved to be higher than the average result from all competitors. Fares within 1% of one another were considered equal.

An aggregator is only as good as the OTAs it canvasses
rachel_pics / flickr.com
A few things to keep in mind

An aggregator is only as good as the OTAs it canvasses. There are booking engines that sell tickets directly (Hotwire, Kiwi, CheapOAir, etc.). And then there are aggregators, which are sites that do not book tickets but instead search dozens of other booking engines, airfare sites, and OTAs (online travel agencies) and compile the results in one place; travelers then click through to their selection to make the actual purchase on the third-party site that’s actually selling it.

Some of the booking sites that aggregators show you are safer than others. All quality aggregators will remove unreliable ticket sellers from their searches, but problems can slip through. As you should do when you are referred to any unfamiliar company, always do a quick Better Business Bureau check for an unfamiliar airfare seller and search for complaints and red flags. 

Also, some OTAs are prone to dangling lead prices a few bucks below what they will actually offer once you click through, and some misleadingly categorize “direct” flights—which do actually stop, but don't require you to change planes—as “nonstop.” Because prices can change from moment to moment, even the most honorable aggregator may lead you to a site where you can’t find the airfare you were originally quoted. When that happened to us frequently in our review tests, we let you know.

• You must search Southwest.com on your own. Southwest annoyingly does not allow its results to be aggregated or sold through third party OTAs. However, given Southwest’s consistently low fares, free luggage, and generous change policies make it well worth the additional step of searching it directly.
Best and Worst Airfare Booking sites: 10: Google Flights
#10: Google.com/flights


Google may be the Titan of online search, but it fumbles when it comes to airfares. 

Google does have some things going for it. It is unbelievably fast, refreshing results even as you key in destinations or change filters. It displays average prices on a popup calendar when you’re choosing dates so you can see at a glance the cheapest days to fly. It also lets you peruse a price grid and price graph on the results page. 

Google’s flight search features a fabulous “Explore” feature that allows you to select major city pairs and find the lowest fare for your dates (plus price trends for the month surrounding it), or just see at a glance how much it roughly costs to fly from your designated airport to dozens of destinations. It is also one of only three sites, including our #1, to feature a filter to include fees for checked and cabin bags in the prices. 

So why is the mighty Google at the back of the pack?

Its price results were all over the place. It found the best fare a grand total of one time, flying from Miami to Rio—but four of our top five sites matched it. Then it tanked on rooting out the absolutely lowest fares for two major routes: NYC to Paris and LA to Hong Kong. Its results for pricier direct flights on those itineraries were just average. 

Google frequently found the exact same flight as many other sites did, but at prices just a little bit higher—often just 5% to 15%, but in some cases bafflingly higher, like the last-minute Dallas-Dubai jaunt on Emirates; Google wanted $673 more than our price champion for that flight, and around $250 more than several other sites found.

Pros: Handily the fastest; useful calendar and graph of prices; detailed filters; ability to include or exclude a given airline or connecting airport from results; lists in-flight amenities (legroom, seat outlets, entertainment, Wi-Fi)
Cons: Merely an average performance on price—rarely the best, and sometimes the worst
Best airfare search websites ranked: Hotwire
#9: Hotwire


After quietly doing away with its Hot Rates (deeply discounted opaque airfares), Hotwire fell out of our ranking after 2017. Now it’s back, but with a huge caveat: Never use Hotwire for last-minute fare. 

Hotwire performed, by far, the worst of any site we tested at last-minute prices, chalking up the highest airfare a whopping six times. The two better-than-average rates it did find were balanced out by a pair of worse-than-average ones on other itineraries. 

Hotwire made up some ground by being flatly average when it came to booking farther in advance. It never found the cheapest overall fare, but it often nabbed lower or even the lowest rates on direct flights.

Beyond that, it failed pretty hard, and we think we know why. Hotwire was the only site that missed big chances to bring no-frills carriers into the mix. On New York–to-Paris, it found a decent $745 fare on Scandinavian, albeit with a stopover—but everyone else found a direct Flybee flight for even less ($666–$687). The best Hotwire could muster for a direct flight: $987 on Norse.

More egregiously, because Hotwire only searches one airport at a time by default, it missed lots of cheaper no-frills flights that were available at nearby alternate airports. Because of that blind spot, Hotwire insisted on a British Airways fare for our London-Barcelona hop that actually cost around four times more than booking a combo of no-frills RyanAir, easyJet, and Vueling from other airports in London—a tactic every other site knew enough to include in results. Hotwire pulled the same face-plant on last-minute fares on the same route; the Air France tickets it offered us cost twice as much as the low-cost carriers in that scenario.

Another mark against Hotwire is its poor set of filters. Along with other problems, it offered no way to indicate a maximum total flight time or layover duration you’d be willing to deal with. That’s pretty much a standard sidebar slider everywhere else. We did like the way its showcases, above the results, how much it would cost to fly on three days to either side of your chosen date.

By the way: If you’re wondering why Expedia (and its corporate siblings, Orbitz and Travelocity) is not on this list, it is because those results are all right here in Hotwire. Expedia now just uses the Hotwire engine for its airfare functions, so if you search Expedia now, you’ve searched Hotwire.

Pros: Decent prices on APEX airfares
Cons: Terrible rates on last-minute flights; sub-par filters; ignores no-frills carriers
Best airfare search websites ranked: Hopper
#8: Hopper


This year, Hopper, the travel app with an intuitive and colorful interface, tumbled five places from #3. 

When it came to finding cheap airfares, Hopper was a mixed bag. It did well enough on advance-purchase APEX fares, scoring slightly better prices than average about a third of the time. But that decent performance was counterbalanced by a dismal performance in the last-minute category. Hopper got whatever is the opposite of a silver medal, second only to Hotwire in putting up the worst prices the most often. Oddly, the only place where it fared better than average was on our curveball Dallas-to-Dubai itinerary. 

In terms of utility, Hopper still gives its users advice about the best dates to book based on price trends, but that feature used to offer far, far more insight on every flight—it once had bar graphs and historical prices, baggage fees and seat pitches, and the cost of various amenities. Those are all gone, although on the final booking page, Hopper will at least link you to the airline’s own page on baggage regulations and costs (except when that link is broken). 

Some features remain. The calendar for selecting dates is color coded to show the cheapest travel days for two months, so you can easily spot where a bit of flexibility might save you money. In addition to a paltry half-dozen sort-by filters (price, flight duration, number of stops, etc.), Hopper can limit the results to its self-defined categories of Basic (cheapest), Standard (economy fares, but with at least free carry-ons and seat selection), Enhanced (more legroom, priority boarding, free snacks, etc.), plus Premium and Luxury for folks who probably don't need this roundup of the best places to book airfares online.

One nice touch: Hopper includes a novel option to limit results to flights with no change fee.

Speaking of fees, Hopper sure does like to pressure you to pay a lot of them for its own add-on services, like freezing a fare for up to 21 days for a sliding scale cost, plus flight protection and cancel-for-any-reason insurances—each of which Hopper, annoyingly, makes you decline on two screens in a row before you can proceed. (On that note, for security’s sake, we always recommend you buy travel insurance from a third party, never from the provider who sells you the trip, in case that provider becomes unreachable.)

Pros: Consistently decent fares for advance purchase; advice on whether to buy now or wait based on historical price trends
Cons: Very limited filters; too many up-sell pitches; sub-standard last-minute fares
Best airfare search websites ranked:  #7: Kiwi.com
#7: Kiwi


We’re not sure what happened to the Czech booking site Kiwi.com to make it tumble from #2 to #7 in less than two years, but the numbers don’t lie. Most of its fares were just a little above or below average, though it did find the cheapest last-minute flights from Miami to Rio and Chicago to Rome. 

What tanked its score was twofold. It performed poorly on advance-purchase direct flights (out of eight itineraries, it scored under average three times and worst of all another three). Kiwi did come up with the cheapest overall fares on NYC to Paris and L.A. to Hong Hong with connecting flights—but then so did most of the sites that outranked it.

Kiwi does have some features to recommend it. It caters to travelers who can be flexible. The default departure date is "anytime," allowing you to see which days are cheapest, and once you do choose a date, pop-up calendars show indicative prices for every day over two months. The results page has a fare grid for three days to either side of your chosen dates, and a trends bar graph showing what prices are likely for a dozen days out (and you can scroll even earlier or later). It’ll even throw in train and bus options, if available, which on our list is unique to Kiwi. It also has the second-best set of filters in the game, rivaled only by our #1. 

But there’s a hitch. We must point out that Kiwi does catch some bad reviews for lackluster customer service when something goes wrong. Frommer’s has received complaints about Kiwi from readers, and few rivals would be jealous of its status with the Better Business Bureau, which fields complaints about its Miami office. Bearing that in mind, some travelers may feel more comfortable using Kiwi to find ideal itineraries but then buy them elsewhere. 

Pros: Can add baggage fees to fares; powerful filters; excellent options for flexible itineraries; can compare flights to train and bus options
Cons: Inconsistent in finding the lowest fares; reports of poor customer service
best airfare search websites ranked:  #6: Priceline
#6: Priceline


The last time we ran our tests, Priceline lost the precarious grip it had kept on the #10 spot for years and fell off the list entirely. During its time in the wilderness, Priceline evidently cleaned up some of its worst practices. It has vastly improved its filters, provided daily price comparisons on the popup date-picker calendars, and no longer turns up its nose at low-cost carriers. That, plus its solid, if not breathtaking, price performance, has placed Priceline back in good graces and firmly in the middle of the pack.

Overall, last-minute fares were Priceline’s biggest weakness, underperforming even our #7 contender, Kiwi, on that score. It was the advance fares that lifted Priceline to #6. It even pulled off a few nice moves. Priceline alone realized you could shave $40 off a CHI-ROM flight in exchange for a short layover in Istanbul. It was also one of only two tested sites to figure out you could save 35% on a last-minute trip from NYC to L.A. as long as you were willing to endure a brief layover. 

Priceline of course also still offers its original, quirky travel hack: The “Express Deals.” These are opaque fares in which you get to pick your airports and travel dates, but not learn precise flight times, airlines, or stopovers until you pay. Before purchasing, you’ll only know whether it’s a morning, mid-day, or evening takeoff and that there will be “0–1” plane changes. If you are willing to put up with that degree of uncertainty, you can save up to 40%, though the discount is typically more around the 10% mark.

Pros: Opaque fares claim they can save up to 40%, but not always; decent filters; sometimes comes up with inventive, lower cost-itineraries
Cons: Middle-of-the-road on price, particularly for last-minute fares
Best airfare search websites ranked: #5: Tripadvisor
#5: Tripadvisor


Tripadvisor holds its position in fifth place, proving that while it may no longer be just a platform to vent about travel mishaps, but its airfare results are holding steady. 

Tripadvisor offers the clever cost-saving option to include nearby airports—you never know when Newark-to-Fort Lauderdale will cost half a LaGuardia-to-Miami ticket—and its great set of filters includes one that lets you limit the booking sites it checks to only the names you trust.

What’s holding it back at #5—aside from being annoyingly slow—is that whenever it found the cheapest tickets, or even a better-than-average airfare, so did our top three sites. And those higher-ranked sites pulled off this feat even more often. Tripadvisor also turned in a resoundingly meh performance on last-minute airfares, with overwhelmingly average results nearly across the board. 

Pros: Decent prices; fair variety of filters; can include nearby airports
Cons: Ho-hum last-minute fares; automatically pops up search windows for other sites unless you deselect that option; sometimes suggests hare-brained itineraries not worth the savings
Best airfare search websites ranked: #4: CheapOAir
#4: CheapOAir


The highest ranked OTA on our list, CheapOAir reigns supreme when it comes to last-minute airfares. How good are the airfares it sells? A few rivals managed to find the best price one or two times, but CheapOAir did so an impressive six times. 

However, alongside those six wins, CheapOAir posted three prices that were worse than average (but not the worst). You could say it’s all or nothing with these folks—even more so when it came to advance-purchase fares, where CheapoAir’s performance was all over the place. Put it this way: If we ignored its stellar performance in the last-minute category and scored things based only on buying tickets a few months out, CheapOAir would rank 7th, not 4th. 

A few other quibbles: CheapOAir won the booby prize for Most Annoying Popups—pestering us to "Speak to a travel expert" or pick "Air-hotel package or flights only?" to a vexing degree. It was also the slowest of our bunch, and sometimes pretty glitchy. 

On the plus side, the popup date-picker calendars automatically populate with airfare prices for every day, so you can see at a glance which day is cheapest to fly. CheapOAir also had a handy cheat sheet chart at the top of results showing the costs, both non-stop and cheapest, for the best half-dozen airlines. The filters were also pretty good, including options to show alternate dates and nearby airports (both can be great cost-saving techniques).

Always give CheapOAir a look if you are planning to fly in the immediate future—but then also run the numbers at our top three, just in case.

Pros: King of the last-minute airfare; makes it easy to consider alternative dates and airports
Cons: Erratic results on advance-purchase APEX fares; slow and glitchy; far too many annoying pop-ups
Best airfare search websites ranked: #3: Skiplagged
#3: Skiplagged


This decade-old upstart quickly outgrew its travel hacker roots to find a comfortable roost on our ranking among the top three—even when we left out the problematic "Hidden city" fares that were once its calling card. 

Hidden city fares—which you can easily exclude by unticking the box next to the word "SKIPLAGGING"—are tedious to explain but boil down to this: They can sometimes cost less, but you don't get to check any luggage. Most crucially, hidden city fares are against airline rules and can result in unpleasant, pricey consequences or even lawsuits if you're caught. But Skiplagged gives you the option to exclude this controversial type of airfare, which we did for our tests. 

Ironically, the site that named itself for a technique that games multi-leg journeys turned out to be strong on direct flights. Our top three sites were pretty much neck-and-neck when it came to pricing (all excellent at the long game, average on last-minute airfares), so it comes down to their other features.

Skiplagged's delightfully simple graphic interface lets you compare, at a glance, the lengths of trips, including layover durations. When you enter a departure airport or city, the arrival is defaulted to "Anywhere;" if you leave it that way, you get a page of photos with prices for a bunch of tempting getaways all across North America (sadly, though, nowhere else).

Skiplagged’s popup calendars show how much the flight costs on each day over two months, so you can easily see how tinkering with the departure or return can save you money. (On the two sites that placed higher in our review ranking, this feature only indicates price ranges, not precise fares).

We do have a few criticisms. Some of Skiplagged’s seemingly low fares from questionable OTAs were actually higher than the competition once you click over and discover service fees and the like. Skiplagged also lacks robust filters, doesn't disclose baggage fees, and rounds down all the prices—that last complaint is minor since we're only talking about a few cents, but just feels sneaky.

Pros: The best at finding the lowest fares on direct flights; noticeably fast; unique and useful interface; precise prices for the alternate dates on popup calendars
Cons: Mediocre filters; no flexible dates option (though it does has a line graph indicating prices over 30 days); doesn’t show baggage fees; still sells problematic “skiplagged” results that airlines have sued passengers for using—you can disable this by unticking the "Skiplagging" option
Best airfare search websites ranked: #2: Skyscanner
#2: Skyscanner


Skyscanner remains one of the best performers on price and essentially tied with #3, Skiplagged, in securing the lowest fares on advance purchase tickets. Skyscanner was consistently average on last-minute bookings—but we give it a shout-out for it nailing the cheapest price by far on a quick getaway from Philly to Tampa, even if it was on Spirit. Something else it shares with Skiplagged: mediocre filters.

This time, Skyscanner earned the edge for a few reasons. You can choose "Explore everywhere" as your destination to get a nice grid of destinations and the cheapest cost to get there. Unlike the similar feature at Skiplagged, which is constrained to North America, if you keep scrolling down on Skyscanner, you will get destinations on other continents as well.

This was also one of the first aggregators to include low-cost airlines, and it continues to innovate by including a star rating for all third-party booking sites (and how many users rated it), which helps with vetting unfamiliar OTAs.

Skyscanner offers the option to include nearby airports and to search for destinations in an entire country rather than just a city. While the initial popup calendars for travel dates do not show, as do some others, the precise prices to fly on alternate days, they do indicate each day’s relative cost category via a color code. Then, once you get to the results page, the tiny "Show whole month" link at the top will provide a page with two months’ worth of estimated prices.

Pros: Excellent results, especially on advance-purchase tickets; a variety of prices for the same flight from multiple OTAs/airline sites; two months of fares for flexible dates; searches nearby airports; notes codeshares; can find lowest fares to many destinations at once
Cons: Doesn’t include baggage fees; sponsored results are mixed in with the organic ones, although they’re clearly marked; mediocre filters
The Top 10 airfare search sites: 1: Momondo and Kayak
#1: Momondo/ Kayak

This year’s new #1 is a comeback story. Knocked from its formerly perennial perch at the top spot in 2019, by last year it had drifted to #6. Now Momondo is back on top, perhaps because of something to do with its merger with corporate cousin Kayak. (You now get exactly the same results from both Kayak and Momondo, but since Kayak leads its list with a “sponsored result” ad and Momondo’s design is easier on the eyes, Momondo gets top billing.)
Momondo secured the best price a whopping six times, the second-best four times, and only dipped below average rates twice. Beyond price, Momondo has by far the most complete set of filters in the business, including a “Booking sites” list so you can weed out the results from shady OTAs, and it offers 13 ways to sort the results (compared to 3–8 elsewhere). You can even select or exclude aircraft types. The one filter that sets Momondo apart is the ability to select how many carry-on and checked bags you will bring so it can fold those fees into the price quotes. Only Kiwi and Google, way down at # 7 and #10 respectively, give you the same option, but the base airfares on those aren’t as low as they are on Momondo.
Momondo has transitioned from pure aggregator (matchmaking customers with travel sellers) to include its own OTA selling its own tickets. It’s transparent about that, and you have to turn on this direct booking option in the filters sidebar. 
Momondo’s results screen is one of the most complete in the business. It offers a ton of intel at a glance, including bar graphs showing the relative cost of flying a week and a half to either side of your chosen dates (if you mouse over the columns, you’ll see actual prices). When you click its dropdown to see the flights offered by various sellers—including ones sold directly by the airlines—Momondo helpfully indicates each booking agent’s average customer rating.
Like Skyscanner, Momondo produces initial popup booking calendars that color codes each day to indicate the cheapest, median, and priciest days to fly in those months. Momondo also offers "Fare insights," a popup of graphs and charts showing price trends over time for any given city pair, bracketing the overall ticket costs and advising how far out to book to snag the best deals. It's like having an expert travel agent right there.
Momondo’s downsides? It can be a bit slow, and CheapOAir beats it (and everyone else) on last-minute fares. Other than that, you really don’t need to visit any other site.

This year, Momondo is the #1 place for airfares on the internet.
Pros: Solid results overall; can include baggage fees in prices; nifty fare calendar graph shows average prices for a wide date range; “Flight insights” feature offers price trend breakdowns for your city pair; “when to buy” advice; compares pricing from multiple OTAs/airline sites; open-ended “Anywhere” option 
Cons: Only average performance on last-minute fares; a bit slow; some OTA sellers it finds may be unfamiliar, so you may need to check reputations before purchasing

Click here for Frommers' Top 10 Ranking of the Best Hotel Booking Sites