Flight booking apps are a dime a dozen these days and all of them promise low fares and a great booking experience. With so many of them sharing similar features, figuring out which one to use can be challenging. We’ve made it easy for you by breaking down the seven best apps and their unique features:
1. Secret Flying
You know those crazy low fares that your friends share on Facebook but that disappear by the time you click on them? Use the Secret Flying app and you won’t miss those deals again. Secret Flying lets you subscribe to flight alerts by region, city or just all deals.
When super low fares or hotel rates appear, you’ll receive a notification from the app. In addition to subscribing to custom fare alerts, the app has a “trending” section that lets you scroll through all the best travel deals currently available.
Skyscanner is a great app if you have specific travel dates and a budget in mind, but no destination. The app’s “Explore” function populates a list of flight deals based on your travel dates and departure city. The resulting list includes flight deals for destinations around the world, starting with the cheapest. This is great if you want to literally see how far you can travel on a budget.
Hopper is a data-driven app that predicts when fares may drop and when the best time is to book. Simply type in your departure city and destination and Hopper will populate a color-coded calendar showing the cheapest flight dates. You can book flights right on the app or select “watch this app” to receive notifications when prices drop or when they’re about to increase.
For the indecisive, Hopper has a “Freeze” feature that lets you hold a fare price for up to 168 hours in exchange for a small deposit. For example, a $200 flight will cost you $8 to hold, per traveler. This fee is refunded if you end up booking before the 168 hours is up. Overall, Hopper is great if you’re looking for cheap flights and the flexibility to hold your ticket for up to a week.
Skiplagged’s deals are so good the company got sued by United and Orbitz in 2014 for employing “hidden city ticketing.” For those who are unfamiliar with this tactic, hidden city ticketing involves booking a one-way ticket and ending your trip on the layover.
Why would anyone do this? Because sometimes fares are cheaper with another destination tacked on. This isn’t an actual example, but let’s say a flight from San Francisco to Dallas prices out at $250. You might find a cheaper fare if you instead book a ticket to New York that has a brief layover in Dallas. You’d simply get off the plane in Dallas and skip the connecting flight to New York.
Skiplagged brought this to the mainstream when it got used in 2014. A judge ruled against the airline, but airlines have policies against hidden city ticketing. The caveat? They have no way to prove that you booked a cheaper flight with no intention of completing the trip. Hence, Skiplagged continues to make hidden city ticketing a feature of its app, allowing users to save money in a unique and creative way.
5. Flights by StudentUniverse
If there is a student discount to be had, Flights by StudentUniverse will find it. This is a great flight search app for students looking for special discounts and all-around cheap flights. The app is incredibly intuitive to use and the flexible flight search function, in particular, is great for comparing fares across several dates. Flights by StudentUniverse also lets you book hotels, with student discounts automatically applied, when available.
6. Tripit Pro
Tripit Pro isn’t technically a flight booking app, but it does come handy after the travel booking process. Keeping track of all your travel reservations can be challenging, especially if you have separate bookings. The Tripit Pro app pulls all of your travel reservations from your email and compiles them into a single itinerary. Tripit will even send you notifications when it’s time to check in, board your flight, or if there are delays.
I can’t even count how many times Tripit Pro has notified me of a travel delay or gate changes before the airline even provided this information. Complicated travel itineraries can be tough to organize and keep track of. Tripit Pro makes it incredibly easy.
If you’d rather not pay the $49 annual fee for this service, the company has a free version you can use that includes most of the same functionality. It’s still great for keeping all of your travel bookings in one place and receiving the occasional complimentary travel alert.
If you’re looking to compare prices on flights to find the best deal for your next trip start with one of the apps above. You can often find much better deals if you check a couple of these apps than you would with Google Flights.