In 2017, Jen Ruiz decided it was time to see more of the world. She committed to taking 12 trips in the year leading up to her 30th birthday. To make that goal affordable, she turned to flight apps and websites that alerted her to deals and helped her book airfare on a budget. Since then, she has become a regular flyer, taking an average of two trips per month prior to the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“If you get creative, there are so many ways to fly cheap,” Ruiz says. Today, the Puerto Rico-based travel blogger and author runs the website Jen on a Jet Plane to help others book affordable airfare and pursue their own travel dreams.
Here are some of the best flight booking app and website options, according to Ruiz and other travel experts:
— Scott’s Cheap Flights.
— Google Flights.
— App in the Air.
Scott’s Cheap Flights
A good flight alert program can simplify the process of finding a deal. These services send emails or notifications whenever there is discounted airfare available to selected destinations, and Scott’s Cheap Flights is Ruiz’s favorite source for flight alerts.
“Most people get very overwhelmed when they are looking for a flight,” she says. However, with Scott’s Cheap Flights, a team of experts is doing the legwork and searching for discounts on domestic and international travel. They also identify pricing mistakes which can lead to deep discounts but need to be quickly claimed. Each alert includes details on how to book the fare.
While there are many flight alert apps and websites, Ruiz likes Scott’s Cheap Flights since it has a limited option that is always free. A premium plan that offers additional features is available for $49 a year. Although Scott’s Cheap Flights doesn’t have a dedicated app, it sends alerts via email, making it an easy service to use on mobile devices.
As another option for pricing alerts, Skyscanner has a free flight app that is compatible with both Apple and Android devices. The app is easy to use and allows you to set alerts for specific dates or routes. Travelers can also use Skyscanner’s calendar and charts to compare hundreds of flights for both international and domestic destinations. The app highlights flights that emit less carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, lets users mix and match flights from different carriers and offers a search option that allows travelers to find the best prices for flights originating from their chosen airport.
Although you can’t book flights through Google Flights, it is one of the most comprehensive sources of flight pricing information. “I love Google Flights for getting an idea of what airfares are,” Ruiz says.
While not currently available as an app, Google Flights offers a simple online interface that allows you to search for flights to specific airports and then see a calendar view that shows when flights will be cheapest. The site also has a price graph that allows you to see pricing trends over time. Users can search for a more general destination, such as a country, and see how airfare compares at various airports as well. Once you find the right airfare, you’ll need to find and book it directly with the carrier or through a third-party booking service.
App in the Air
App in the Air is more than a cheap flights app. It serves as a personal assistant to travelers and provides real-time notifications, details on COVID-related restrictions and an auto check-in feature.
“(We) offer our users an exclusive airline and hotel booking tool that is one of the first to enable direct bookings with select airlines including United, American Airlines, Southwest, Lufthansa, among others,” says Bayram Annakov, CEO and founder of App in the Air. This tool allows travelers to preview loyalty points and access some deals that may not be found on other booking apps. Annakov notes that App in the Air was designed with frequent flyers in mind and uses machine learning to understand a person’s preferences and then suggest appropriate flights.
The app is free to download and use on Android and Apple devices. Some features, such as real-time flight status, are only available to those with a premium membership. That costs $29.99 for 12 months or $49.99 for lifetime access.
Compatible with Android and Apple devices, Kiwi searches prices for more than 700 airlines to piece together the lowest-priced itinerary. The free app also offers the opportunity to search for all deals from a specific airport, which can be handy for those who are ready to take a vacation but don’t have a particular destination in mind. What’s more, Kiwi offers mobile-only deals, price alerts and trip notifications. The Kiwi app can also be used for mobile boarding passes and other travel services such as finding Wi-Fi hotspots.
With Momondo, users can search for specific flights or explore travel options to trending cities and countries. Ruiz uses Momondo to confirm the availability of cheap flights she may find elsewhere. The app, which is free and compatible with Android and Apple devices, has an “Anywhere Search” feature for those who don’t have a specific destination in mind. It allows users to select “anywhere” as an arrival destination and explore flight prices to various regions. Plus, Momondo’s price calendar makes it simple to see if there are cheaper flights available on different days.
While Priceline started as a third-party booking website, it also has a popular app. The app is free and compatible with Android and Apple devices.
One advantage of the Priceline app is its exclusive travel deals. With the Express Deals function, Priceline claims people can save as much as 50%. The catch is that users won’t receive their exact departure and arrival times until after they purchase tickets. Until then, they will only be given an approximate arrival or departure time, such as in the early morning. Priceline has a best price guarantee that promises to refund the difference if you find a better deal within 24 hours of booking. If you find a better deal on an Express Deal at any time up to midnight before you travel, Priceline will refund up to 200% of the difference.
Sometimes, getting the cheapest price on a flight comes down to when you book your travel. Hopper analyzes flight data to predict when prices will be at their lowest. You can sign up for price alerts and then book tickets through the app. Hopper is free and compatible with Apple and Android devices and claims to have 95% accuracy up to a year in advance of a travel date. There’s also an option to freeze a price if you need more time to plan. According to Hopper, travelers typically save an average of $50 on domestic flights, and savings can be as much as $120 on international flights.
If you are looking for the best airlines app and have cryptocurrency to spend, Travala lets users book flights with more than 40 cryptocurrencies. The site also accepts debit and credit card payments.
“While using cryptocurrency to pay for travel may seem daunting or confusing for those unfamiliar with crypto, the process is not much different to using (traditional currency),” says Juan Otero, CEO and founder of Travala.com. The only difference is that those paying with cryptocurrency need a crypto wallet to transfer funds, and some currencies may have a minimum spending requirement or various processing times.
While the Travala app, which can be downloaded for free on Apple and Android devices, is focused on hotel bookings, the website can be used to search for flights from more than 600 airlines. Additional savings of up to 1% on flights are available to those who join the Travala Smart Program, which also offers loyalty and bonus rewards.
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Update 04/15/21: This story was published at an earlier date and has been updated with new information.