Think all airline search engines are the same? Think again.
When booking flights, it's common practice to default to the same old website, for convenience sake, or due to the belief that all search engines return the same results. While there's nothing wrong with using Kayak, it's worth knowing about other useful sites and the situations when they may come in handy. Here are a few to keep in mind.
For Booking a Flight, Quick
Google's streamlined interface returns flight results at speeds you've come to expect from the search giant, which is to say, faster than most, if not all, traditional aggregators. When time is of the essence, the ability to quickly conduct searches for multiple city trips, compare alternate dates (and even destinations) using a variety of uncluttered infographics, and filter results according to price, stops, airline, time, and connecting airports is priceless.
For Booking a Flight On the Cheap
Momondo has many of the same pricing tools as Google Flights. Though it runs considerably slower, it frequently returns cheaper flights. (Google Flights often displays cheaper tickets that can only be booked through travel agents, who charge additional fees.) Busy interface aside, Momondo's powerful analytic features and rental car booking capabilities (which Google lacks) make the website a great tool for finding the best deals.
For Deciding When to Travel Next
Google Flight Explorer
Travelers with flexible schedules can use Google Flight Explorer to find the cheapest time to fly to a particular destination, whether it be a city, country, or region (like Northern Europe). At some point since its launch, the service was yanked from public search results, presumably because it doesn't look great on mobile and a similar function was integrated into Google Flights. (Price graph under flexible dates.) The stand-alone inspiration tool deserves its own shoutout.
For Making a Complicated Itinerary
The global trip planner gets travelers where they need to go, whether it takes a plane, train, car, bus, boat, or a combination thereof. The service works like a standard search engine, and is indispensable for finding routes to remote or underserviced regions. The company is also rolling out booking functionality, allowing users to plan their trips on-site.
For Arranging An Around-the-World Flight
Generally speaking, there are two ways to arrange a flight around the world: purchase a pass from an airline alliance or use a third-party site to piece together an itinerary using tickets from a variety of airlines. For those who don't want to deal with the terms and conditions that come with the former, planning a trip using AirTreks often saves money and always ensures some level of flexibility while traveling.
For Keeping Track of All These Flights
The gold standard in live flight tracking is also available as an app and runs a community forum that lists delays, cancellations, and industry news, so you can stay tapped into the airwaves even when grounded.