Best site for budget travel?
February 2, 2006 7:55 PM   Subscribe

Which online travel site offers the best deals, particularly on air fare?
posted by sweetney to Shopping (19 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
In my experience, they're all the same. But sometimes it pays to check out the smaller airlines that aren't on expedia, et al, like Southwest, Jet Blue, etc.
posted by knave at 8:02 PM on February 2, 2006 seems to be bringing up the best fares for me lately. They don't book, they don't have deals with the airlines, and their revenue is from ads, so they check everything out there without weighing any airline differently.
posted by eve harrington at 8:09 PM on February 2, 2006

Travel Zoo isn't a search engine but they regularly collect special deals that they find on trips, airfare, etc.
posted by blueyellow at 8:12 PM on February 2, 2006

I like kayak as well, but they don't seem to cover all the airlines (for example, I saw they didn't search hawaiian airlines when I was looking at fares to hawaii).
I typically end up booking at the individual airlines' websites -- they don't usually charge any service fees.
posted by j at 8:13 PM on February 2, 2006

You can sometimes score some great links from the FatWallet forums.
posted by symphonik at 8:23 PM on February 2, 2006

I've heard reports, though can't back them up, that the more you look on these sites, the less you are offered discounted deals. Something to consider, or at least watch for.

Normally I hate to offer uncorroborated advice like this, but it makes sense from a marketing perspective and would be easy to do.
posted by qwip at 8:57 PM on February 2, 2006

I look it up on Orbitz and then book it on the airline website because it saves the $5-10 fee. This is slightly cheating them but I don't care. I like Orbitz because it easily lets you search the dates +/- 1 day, which can often really help with the price. Others might let you do that too, but I know Orbitz does.
posted by smackfu at 8:57 PM on February 2, 2006

Once again, Kayak is an aggregator of all these friendly sites mentioned above and is always worth a gander.
posted by disillusioned at 9:19 PM on February 2, 2006

Sidestep is my favorite.
posted by occhiblu at 10:03 PM on February 2, 2006

There's also, which functions as a cheap voucher system for people who don't have set-in-stone schedules, and, which on the surface is even more flexible, but comes with dubious customer reports..
posted by soviet sleepover at 12:45 AM on February 3, 2006

I look it up on Orbitz and then book it on the airline website because it saves the $5-10 fee.

You're better off using ITA Software's engine directly. It's the same software that Orbitz runs on.
posted by grouse at 1:44 AM on February 3, 2006 [1 favorite]

If you're a student or educator, StudentUniverse has had some good fares. There is not, it should be said, a great deal of choice, however.
posted by Emperor SnooKloze at 4:30 AM on February 3, 2006

One more vote for Kayak.
posted by tuxster at 6:49 AM on February 3, 2006

Things to watch out for:
  1. Kayak doesn't search Southwest.
  2. Most of the sites like Orbitz and Expedia don't search JetBlue, though Kayak does.
  3. As mentioned above, if you ever need to book a Hawaii inter-island flight, you should do it on the airline's website. It's almost always cheaper than adding it as a code-share connection to your flight from the mainland.
  4. Cheap rates to Europe are very complicated nowadays, because of the low-price intra-Europe flights that are not found by these sites. You can usually fly into the UK and take EasyJet to your obscure destination for cheaper than anything on Kayak.

posted by smackfu at 7:04 AM on February 3, 2006

I also like Kayak (I used it for both a flight and a hotel this week).

It's worth noting that some airlines (Continental in particular) have started advertising "lowest prices guaranteed" on their own web sites. They're obviously trying to eliminate whatever fee goes to sites like Orbitz and Expedia, and passing the savings on.
posted by o2b at 8:29 AM on February 3, 2006

This is another good resource I've booked through them a few times.
posted by blueyellow at 9:50 AM on February 3, 2006

Skyscanner and AirNinja are good for Europe
posted by Sharcho at 10:07 AM on February 3, 2006

Here's some reading that might interest you

Basically, places that sell scheduled airline tickets (almost all travel agents and web sites) are all searching the same database. There are ways to find cheaper flights but they vary depending on your destination
posted by winston at 11:20 AM on February 3, 2006

If you are going international, has cheaper hotel rates than orbitz and the like. YMMV, though. Sometimes, you can get a cheaper rate just by calling the hotel.
posted by achmorrison at 1:19 PM on February 5, 2006

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