Testing the Best Booking Engines for International Travel

Two weeks ago, Frommers announced the results of testing airfare booking sites. Frommer’s tested sites on last-minute flights which left within 72 hours) and APEX fares which are booked six weeks out. They used major routeings such as New York to Los Angeles and secondary ones such as Philadelphia to Rome. They also had some interesting routeings such as Denver to Delhi and London to Barcelona. Their weighted scoring system included negative points for finding the worst fares on each leg.
The final ranking of ten sites roughly correlated with my experiences. Over the last six to twelve months, I have been using (in this order):

  1. Skyscanner (which Frommers rated number two)- UK based Chinese-owned website
  2. Kayak ( Frommers rated fourth), owned and operated by the Priceline Group
  3. Google Flights ( Frommers rated third)- owned by US based Google Inc

Frommers’ number one pick is Momondo, also owned by the Priceline Group. I used Momondo in 2014 but went off it and have not used since. I have been playing with it over the last few weeks to see what I think.  Frommers identified Hipmunk in fifth place. They are part of Concur who also operate Tripit.

Frommers identified the worst airfare booking site as Priceline (surprise surprise owned by The Priceline Group) which I have not used to book an airfare for at least 14 years. Every now and them I check them out but have not been impressed.

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Following Frommer’s published results, I have been testing my three favourite sites (Google, Kayak and Skyscanner) plus Momondo and Hipmunk,  to find the best combination of fares and timings on some future trips.  Some of my results (in USD) are:

  • Melbourne to Bangkok, Economy RT:   Skyscanner and Kayak: $510, Momondo: $511, Hipmunk $549, Google: $580
  • Melbourne to Bangkok, Business RT produced huge variations from Kayak $2,144, Hipmunk $2,232, Momondo $2,258, Skyscanner: $2,456 Google $2,786,
  • Philadelphia to Frankfurt, Business OW: Skyscanner found me the worst fare of $6,793 while Google flights got the best one for $2,073. They also suggested going to Newark and flying for $1,270.  Momondo ($2,189) and Kayak ($3,600) were in the middle. Hipmunk came up with a $3,796 but found me some very creative alternatives which took far longer but got the fare down to $704,
  • Cairo to Singapore to Helsinki, Business Multi City: Google found me the best rate at $2,603. Kayak was close behind at $2,607, then Hipmunk at $2,640 and Skyscanner found me a $2,651 -all on the same airline. Momondo ‘s best effort was $3,004
  • Berlin to San Francisco: Premium Economy RT: Skyscanner got me an outstanding $725 fare compared to Momondo ($1,235) Google ($1332) and Kayak ($1437). Hipmunk does not search for Premium Economy fares.

So my learning from this exercise, is that I will keep using my three favourite sites!

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