I'm back with another installment of the MAPD Guide to Scoring Flight deals! Part 2 brings even more of my favorite sites and apps you can leverage to navigate the flight hunting circus. I hope you enjoyed part 1, I'll go ahead and spare you the long intro and jump right into the next installment...
I’m starting part two with a real gem. Kiwi is a true wanderlust wingman and the only site on this list that can compete with Secret Flying’s freeness (may or may not be a word) and open-ended searching. Like Secret Flying, Kiwi is absolutely free and doesn’t require you to make an account (although you have the option if you wish). You can enter your departure airport and leave your destination as well as your departure and return times blank and let Kiwi do its magic. Kiwi will not only list out some pretty impressive deals leaving from your airport, but also provide a nice map with price points listed on different potential destinations. Take a look.
What's even more impressive about Kiwi is that they don't rely on Google Flights. Clicking on a flight will take you to a booking page that lets you book the deal right from Kiwi directly. The airline will be listed and it is probably safe to say that that's where your money eventually goes, but it appears Kiwi has their own relationship with various airlines that allows you to only deal with Kiwi and not have to go through too many screen and tabs. Excellent user experience. I dragged the map over to LA just for the sake of it. Here's where clicking a deal will take you
Scrolling down the page will take you to fill in your name and birthday and passport or ID number, etc, the usual. Clicking continue enough times will take you to finally book. All from Kiwi. Dope. There is also an app that functions pretty much the same and allows you to set notifications. You can make an account if you wish (still free) which will track your previous deals and allow you to set notifications to track future prospective deals, but there is no need and from what I can tell those are the only differences between an account and an anonymous search
Gripes: Just one small one, sometimes the deals that pop up are for long trips only and therefore the low price doesn't stick when you modify the dates. If you have the time and flexibility, this is no issue at all for you. But for those of us working with limited vacation hours, it can be a little disheartening. I still very much LOVE this site though.
Price: FREE. My favorite price of them all
Is there a Free Version?: Again, the entire site is FREE. .
Worth it? 100%
Are you subscribed? – No subscription needed, but I have this site bookmarked and I suggest you do the same. Or download the app. Or both
Booked a flight through them? – Yes!
This one is quite the firecracker and might best be left for the experienced travelers. I said that not as an elitist (in fact I haven't tried this one yet myself), but because Skiplagged thrives off a very savy loophole that most just simply don't know about; layovers. Here's the plot; Skiplagged finds you flight deals that include your desired airport (or nearby airports) as short layovers for extended trips, meaning you deliberately "miss" your connecting flight since you are at your desired destination anyway. Once you select your desired departure and destinations, Skiplagged goes to work to cobble together outrageously discounted prices via round trips or multiple one ways, each of which will include your desired destination as a layover as opposed to the final stop. Only it will be the final stop for you! Confused? Here's a visual. I searched Washington D.C to LA
Skiplagged returned two one way flights; one from Washington to Las Vegas (that stops in LA), and one from LA to Pittsburgh (that stops in Washington). The flights that have strike throughs are the flights you would purposely miss.
Of course to bring this all together you can't check a bag and you have to book these two flights together to lock in the price and itinerary. Once you click the blue button to book, Skiplagged gives you these helpful notes to keep in mind.
Once you click proceed you will be taken to a page with instructions on how to find that exact flight. It is usually through the airline directly so you will have to open a new tab and search the specific flight details. Do the same for the second flight and you will be on your way.
Gripes: As I'm sure you've already figured out, the whole process can get a little complicated. This isn't really an indictment on Skiplagged, more so a side effect of utilizing this method of traveling in general.
Booked a flight through them? – Not yet
I Know the Pilot is similar to Dollar Flight Club and Secret Flying in that right out the gate you are presented with a dashboard of deals to choose from. It is completely free, and subscribing will give you the opportunity to select a preferred departure destination and receive specifically catered email notifications. Subscribing and signing up for email notifications won't change how your dashboard looks unfortunately, the home page just spits out all deals. The email notifications will be specific to your chosen destination.
Pretty standard procedure, except I Know The Pilot doesn't link to Google Flights. Instead it presents a list of external sites to choose from, each of which have their own processes. The first of which is a site called I Want That Flight which seems to be the middle man for each deal. Clicking a deal from there then provides the list to even more external sites to choose from. Click through the slide show below to check it out. I Want That Flight is the third screen with the mustard yellow buttons.
I chose the Antigua and Barbuda flight just as an example.
The flight deals on offer from I Know The Pilot are as fine as its competitors, but by linking to external site they have perhaps complicated their process a bit. I am less familiar with some of the sites they link to than others so I don't have much guidance on which are trustworthy and what processes to expect, but the price points are so low they are worth a shot. Truthfully, I have browsed the app more than the site so I may not have gathered all necessary info.
Gripes: Again, the linking to external sites isn't ideal and can be a turn off for some. The fact that you can't narrow down your dashboard from the web version is also a bit annoying. Having to wait for an email when there is a huge website site seems a bit counter intuitive. The app seems to let you narrow your deals though which is a saving grace.
Are you subscribed? – Yes, and I have received some great deals. I may be utilizing them at some point. I like app much better than the web version. The deals that populate on your app will always leave from your desired airport
Booked a flight through them? – Not yet
I could have started this entire list (part 1 included) with Momondo. Absolutely love the interface and attention to detail. Momondo doesn't scan the globe for random great deals like the rest on this list, but it earns its place for the amazing guidance and support for the destination you search for. Take a look at the amount of info Momondo provides for a hypothetical flight to Manila from Washington with random dates set. Perfect for when you have a destination in mind but aren't particular on time.
Before you click search, you can decide to change the dates based on the price suggestions of the graph. You can also continue to scroll down the page where you will find tons of tidbits like how to get around, visa requirements, weather, and even fun stuff to do. I grabbed a few screenshots.
Momondo also has an open ended search bar that you can use to search deals from your preferred airport to anywhere by leaving the destination bar empty. You can't leave the date boxes empty, but you can select a budget which will then produces a map populated with price points within your budget.
Check out this random search I ran from BWI to anywhere from August 3rd-17th with a budget of $1,200. I'd probably never actually pay that much for a flight, but for example sake here are the results.
Clicking on a destination will lead you to a page that looks like this (I picked San Diego)...
Each different deal will link you to a different site, some of which will let you book directly through them. Others require more screens but from my experience all external sites from Momondo are trustworthy. You can also track your favorite flight deals to receive real time updates of price changes, so Momondo is a useful tool for all it's extra curricular offerings. Even if it is not in the business of scanning Google Flights for random great deals.
Gripes: Virtually none. It is not a discount deal finder, but rather a flight booking assistant, so you should look at it with a different scope than the rest on this list. For what it's worth, it's a pretty useful tool
Worth it? Yes
Booked a flight through them? – Yes
TravelZoo didn't quite make the list not because their deals aren't incredible (they are), but because they specialize in package deals with flights, accommodation, and tours all included. That's definitely an awesome plus not a minus, but the deals are almost always from the same 10 major airports and for very specific dates. They also mention in the fine print that the deals are packaged specifically for travelers to share rooms, two people per room, so unless you book with someone else you know, you may have to share a room with a stranger or pay more for a single. Don't get me wrong, none of these things are necessarily cons when you consider the amazing prices advertised, I just haven't ever been able to find a deal and time that worked for me. Perhaps my saltiness is the reason I didn't add it to the main list lol.
Also, since I am a budgeter, I'm not sure if the total price TravelZoo offers is any better than the total price I would end up shelling out by staying in affordable Air BnBs or hostels and finding my way around to excursions myself. I'll have to crunch some numbers one day and write about my findings. Here's an example deal in the meantime.
Ditto. Here is an example deal.
Skyscanner is a pretty basic flight searcher. It is useful for finding the cheapest and fastest flights from your desired search parameters, but it is limited in the sense that it does not suggest different departure and arrival times that may be cheaper, or flights from surrounding airports that may be cheaper. Nor does it randomly scan great deals from across the web. The "sky scanning" that is does is very specific to the departure and destination you chose within the time frame you chose. It's useful for when you have a specific destination and time frame to adhere to. You can track flights as well which is nice.
Ditto, except the results will include flights from adjusted time slots and neighboring airports for cheaper flights. The website is pretty bare, it pretty much just directs you to download the app. I recommend downloading it, you never know where the best deal will come from.
Similar to Skyscanner. There is an app as well.