Introduction: The Six Best Airfare Sites and Air Travel Websites
When it comes time to book your next big trip, you could drop by your local travel agent — if you can still find one, that is.
With the rise of air travel sites and airline booking sites, the travel agent profession is quickly becoming extinct. The ease of searching the web for the best site for airline tickets allows you to quickly find the best option for your travel plans, all from the comfort of your own home.
With the best airline sites, not only can you find and compare the best prices and itineraries, you can also book a hotel room and rent a car all at once.
The best sites for airline tickets have effectively made travel something that anyone can plan and manage. But with so many different air travel sites out there, how do you know what is the best website for airline tickets?
Award Emblem: Top 6 Best Airfare Sites
In this brief article, AdvisoryHQ will review the top six best airfare sites and best airline ticket websites.
Before jumping into the reviews, we will look at how air travel sites rose to eventually overcome traditional travel agents.
We will then go on to look at why it is preferable to use the best airline ticket sites over other travel planning options as well as the benefits that come with researching the best websites to buy airline tickets. We will then go on to offer a complete review of the top six airline booking sites found on the web.
AdvisoryHQ's List of the Top 6 Best Airfare Sites and Best Airline Ticket Websites
List is sorted alphabetically (click any of the names below to go directly to the detailed review section for that firm/product):
When Did the Best Sites to Buy Airline Tickets Overtake Traditional Travel Agents?
In the past, if you needed to go on a business trip or plan a vacation with the family, you would call up your local travel agent, and he or she would get together your travel information and call you back once your flight arrangements were confirmed.
Starting about fifteen years ago, however, air travel websites slowly began to take over the travel industry from travel agencies.
Image Source: Pixabay
Automated booking systems, the precursor to the best airline sites, have actually been around for a while. According to Wikipedia:
“In 1946 American Airlines were the very first to come out with an automated booking system. This was called the Electromechanical Reservisor which comprised a temporary storage of magnetic drums. The airline’s operators had to do the actual lookups as travel agents could not directly query this system.”
The rise of air travel sites coincided with the rise of the internet. It was not until 1996 that Microsoft (the internet leader) launched its own best site for airline tickets called Expedia.
Shortly after that, some of the best known air travel websites such as Priceline and Travelocity were also born, and the age of internet booking engines took off. A complete infographic on the history of the best airfare sites can be found here.
In today’s world, there are literally hundreds of best airline sites that all consider themselves to be the best site to buy airline tickets. These air travel sites have become the preferred option for booking airline travel.
Why It Is Preferable to Use the Best Airline Ticket Site Over Other Travel Planning Options
The best airfare sites allow you as a customer to quickly and efficiently compare thousands of airline prices, itineraries, and other more detailed travel options.
Whereas booking your flight with a travel agent requires you to trust that your agent will find you the most competitive price, the best website for airline tickets allows you to take matters into your own hands.
No one knows your specific travel preferences or your budget like you do. While a travel agent might be able to offer you a few options, the best sites for airline tickets allow you to structure your search based on a number of criteria, including price, number of layovers, flight time, etc.
If finding the cheapest ticket is the most important aspect of your travel plans and you don’t mind spending 8 to 12 hours sitting in some random airport, some of the best sites for airline tickets can help you find the overall cheapest flight.
The best airline ticket websites can even offer you the lowest fares from combining flights from several different airlines. If you want to get from Chicago to Los Angeles, you may fly American Airlines to Dallas, then switch to Delta Airlines for the last leg of your flight.
Another reason to opt for the best airfare sites is because they generally charge much lower fees than traditional travel agents.
“According to the ASTA (American Society of Travel Agents), travel agents’ total fees for a package may range from $20 to $100. The Travel Insider website says online booking fees were as little as $5 in 2009. To receive the best deals through online booking, however, you may have to check daily with multiple outlets to find the price that suits your budget.”
Since the best websites to buy airline ticket receive thousands of searches and purchases every day, the sheer amount of business they generate allows them to charge lower fees.
The Importance of Researching the Best Website to Buy Airline Tickets
Unfortunately, not all air travel sites are made equal. With hundreds of airline booking sites out there, many travelers end up purchasing an airline ticket for several hundred dollars more because the supposed best site to buy airline tickets didn’t include a quality, low-cost airline in their online search.
When shopping for the best flight prices, it is important to find the best website for airline tickets that includes almost all airlines in their search. Besides the big name airlines such as American, Delta, United, etc., there are hundreds of small carriers and economy, low-priced airlines that are sometimes left out of searches offered by some air travel websites.
Furthermore, the best site for airline tickets should also include international airlines in their searches, even if you are searching for a domestic flight. Since many international carriers travel through major hubs such as Miami, Houston, Los Angeles, Chicago, or New York, if you are traveling between these cities, an international airline may be your cheapest option.
The best airline ticket site will include these options in your search. If you prefer the trusted name of the big name airlines, however, the best airfare sites should allow you the option of refining your search to only include certain airlines.
Furthermore, it is important to research the best air travel sites out there because sometimes some of these air travel sites enter into disputes with major airlines and exclude them from their search options due to conflicts and litigations.
In 2011, two of the best airline ticket websites, Expedia and Orbitz, stopped listing American Airline flights in their search criteria because of a dispute over fees that the airline had to pay to these best airfare sites.
“A traveler searching two of the four largest online travel agencies, Orbitz and Expedia, is not going to find any listings for American Airlines flights — at least for the moment. That is because American is in a standoff over the fees it must pay to list its flights with the agencies.”
Although these top two best sites for airline tickets have since patched things up with American Airlines, during the dispute, travelers that used these best airfare sites might not have received the best offer because those fares were not included in the search.
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List of Top Airfare Sites:
Detailed Review – Top Ranking Best Airfare Sites
Below, please find the detailed review of each firm on our list of top air travel sites. We have highlighted some of the factors that allowed these air travel sites to score so highly in our selection ranking.
CheapOair is one of the leading air travel sites on the market. They offer quality fares for air travel, hotel, and rental car bookings. This best site for airline tickets has earned a number of prestigious awards for their quality customer service and also has an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau.
CheapOair has been one of the leading best airfare sites since 2005, making it one of the more well-established air travel websites out there. They also offer deals on vacation packages and cruises, making it a great option for travelers who want to book a complete vacation experience.
Key Factors That Enabled CheapOair to Rank as a Best Airline Ticket Site
Below are primary reasons we selected CheapOair to be rated as one of this year’s top air travel websites.
Quality Customer Service
CheapOair offers 24/7 customer service, which is extremely important when it comes to travel.
If you suddenly find that you need to change the date on your flight that is set to leave tomorrow, a quick toll-free phone call to this best website to buy airline tickets will allow you to quickly find the best option to change your travel plans.
Image Source: CheapOair
The customer service web page of this best airline ticket site has helpful information on basic travel information, such as baggage fees, airport terminal maps, special assistance for disabled customers, and visa and passport information.
You can also easily manage your booking through finding information on refund status, schedule changes, itinerary confirmation, online flight check-in, and even cancel your flight booking.
If you can’t find the information you need on their customer service web page, this best airfare site allows you to easily request customer support through an easy online form. They also offer a live chat option for people who need instant answers to an urgent travel situation.
This combination of free online chat service, toll-free customer service in the United States and several other countries, and web support makes CheapOair one of the top air travel sites for customer service.
Free Online App
One of the most appreciated aspects of this best website for airline tickets are the free mobile apps. The CheapOair mobile apps are available for iPhone, iPad, and Android devices.
With these free mobile apps, you gain access to the best travel deals offered by over 450 airlines around the world.
For folks who like to hold out on purchasing a plane ticket until they find the absolute best offer, this mobile app comes with a flight tracker that will allow you to receive updates to your phone regarding the best prices for certain itineraries that you are searching for. Among airline booking sites, this is one of the best travel apps available.
Furthermore, the mobile app offered by this best site for airline tickets also offers mobile exclusive deals and allows you to manage your travel wherever you have cellphone reception.
Good Promo Codes
For travelers who are looking for an extra couple dollars off of their airfare, this best site to buy airline tickets offers a $2o off promotion for new customers booking international travel. The $20 rebate is on the fees charged by CheapOair, not on the ticket price. If you are an infrequent traveler and looking for a way to save a few extra bucks on an upcoming trip, this promotion is an easy way to save.
According to Wikipedia, this best airfare site:
“[C]an be used to book airline tickets, hotel reservations, car rentals, cruises, vacation packages and various attractions and services via the World Wide Web and telephone travel agents. The site uses multiple global distribution systems like Amadeus or the Sabre reservation systems for flights and for hotels, Worldspan and Pegasus, along with its own hotel reservation system for contracted, bulk-rate reservations.”
Key Factors that Enabled Expedia to Rank as a Top Air Travel Site
Below are primary reasons we selected Expedia to be rated as one of this year’s top airline booking sites.
Expedia Voyager MasterCard
One of the top benefits of this best website for airline tickets is the quality credit card that accompanies Expedia.
Expedia partners with Citigroup to offer the Voyager Card. After $2,000 of purchases with the card, you can qualify for 25,000 Expedia points to be used for purchasing airline tickets.
Though this card comes with a $95 annual fee, if you use the card regularly, you will receive quality points rewards that outcompete other best airfare sites’ rewards programs.
My Scratchpad Tool
Furthermore, this best site to buy airline tickets also has a unique tool called My Scratchpad, which will help you quickly and efficiently compare the top deals on itineraries that you are searching for.
With My Scratchpad, you can save information from past searches and notes that you take regarding the best deals you find. When you are ready to purchase, this best airfare site allows you to check over your searches and notes to come up with a quality trip plan. Furthermore, you can also use this tool for bundle deals, including flight, hotel, and car rental.
Kayak is also one of the most internationally focused of the air travel sites. They have over four international sites in 20 languages. According to their website, they process over 1.5 billion queries every year for travel-related information.
Key Factors That Enabled Kayak to Rank as a Top Air Travel Site
Below are primary reasons we selected Kayak to be rated as one of this year’s top air travel sites.
Quality Mobile App
The Kayak mobile app has been downloaded over 40 million times, and for good reason.
According to Top Ten Reviews “the mobile app has extras like a packing list and currency converter in addition to booking and searching for reservations.” For folks who are looking for the best international fares, this best airfare site and their app allow you to know exactly what you will be spending due to currency differences.
Image Source: Kayak
Quality Compare Options
This best website to buy airline tickets also offers the benefit of allowing you to compare the same fares offered by competing best airfare sites. Kayak trusts in their ability to get you the best price on your airline tickets and thus willingly shows the competitor’s prices as well. Furthermore, with this best airfare site, you can create price alerts and find out the best destinations for you according to your travel budget.
Momondo is based out of Copenhagen and is unique in that it doesn’t sell airline tickets directly; rather, it allows its users to compare prices offered by other best airfare sites. Furthermore, this quality air travel website is multilingual, allowing you to search for the best airfares in a number of different languages, including Danish, Swedish, Norwegian, Finnish, Polish, Ukrainian, Chinese, English, German, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, Russian, Romanian, Dutch, and Turkish.
Key Factors That Enabled Momondo to Rank as a Top Air Travel Site
Below are primary reasons we selected Momondo to be rated as one of this year’s top air travel sites.
The trip finder feature offered by Momondo is another quality features of this best airfare site. This feature allows you to search for the best flights to certain top destinations around the world depending on your budget and what you want to do.
For example, with this top air travel website, you can search for the top budget trips to destinations known for their beaches, nature, skiing, shopping or nightlife.
Another unique characteristic of this best airfare site is that it offers a rating feature on each flight that it offers.
This rating feature is on a scale of one to ten and takes into consideration the price, flight time, and other flight options that are included in the overall price. If you’re looking for the best deal that won’t leave you in an airport overnight or stuck in some tiny aircraft with no leg room, this tool can come in handy and isn’t offered by other best airfare sites.
If you are looking for a quality air travel website with a solid reputation for helping you find the lowest prices, Priceline might be for you. Like the other best airfare sites we’ve reviewed, Priceline offers searches for the best prices on flights, hotels, car rentals, cruises, and all-inclusive vacation packages.
This Connecticut-based company helps its users find the best prices for their travel through facilitating between travel service providers and its customers. Priceline is unique among the best airline sites in that it guarantees the best prices on your flight search. Their “name your own price” feature is also useful in helping flyers find the best deals available.
Key Factors That Enabled Priceline to Rank as a Top Air Travel Site
Below are primary reasons we selected Priceline to be rated as one of this year’s top air travel sites.
Name Your Own Price Tool
One of the most distinctive features of this best airfare site is their name your own price tool that you can find on their website. While this tool is only available for hotels and car rentals, it can come in handy for those travelers wanting to save money.
With this tool, you simply place a “bid” for how much you are willing and able to spend for a rental car and/or hotel. Priceline then sends this bid to participating hotels and car rental agencies to see if they accept your bid.
The only downside of this feature of this best airfare site is that you must be flexible, as sometimes your bid will only be available during certain days or times of the year.
Another plus to this top air travel site is that you can pay for your trip through Google Wallet. Millions of people are now using this quality electronic payment website which makes it quick and easy to purchase your airfare without having to go through the hassle of putting in all sorts of credit card information.
Trip Advisor Review
Trip Advisor is the last of the air travel sites that we will review, but it is no less quality than the others. With this quality air travel site, not only can you book airline tickets and hotels, you can also read thousands of reviews from real-life travelers like yourself.
Even if you are headed to some obscure island in the South Pacific, chances are that Trip Advisor can get you there and offer you several reviews of every lodging option on the island, from a five-star hotel to a rented room in someone’s garage.
According to this air travel website:
“TripAdvisor branded sites make up the largest travel community in the world, reaching 350 million average monthly unique visitors**, and reached 385 million reviews and opinions covering 6.6 million accommodations, restaurants and attractions. The sites operate in 48 markets worldwide.”
Key Factors That Enabled Trip Advisor to Rank as a Top Air Travel Site
Below are primary reasons we selected Trip Advisor to be rated as one of this year’s top air travel sites.
The most impressive feature of this best airfare site isthe sheer number of independent reviews that it offers. You can find loads of information on every airline, every hotel, and pretty much any other aspect of travel that you are interested in.
Travelers from around the world can quickly and easily upload their reviews for others to read. The user-generated content allows you to find the best options for your travel while not depending solely on the cheap publicity stunts of certain airlines and hotels.
Another quality feature of this best website to buy airline tickets is that you can easily sign up for fare alerts on the ticket itineraries you are researching. By simply adding your email address, this best airfare site will send you periodic updates when a better price is available.
Conclusion – Top 6 Air Travel Sites
When it comes to finding the best airfare sites, there are a number of quality options out there.
Which air travel site you choose depends largely on your specific travel plans and what types of features you want to include in your plans.
All six of these best airfare sites can help you find the absolute lowest fares while also offering quality information on hotels and car rentals, plus independent reviews.
Instead of calling up your hometown travel agent next time you’re getting ready to head out of town, take a few minutes to research these best airline sites to find the best fares from the comfort of your own home.
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