Trying to find and book a flight is a headache in itself these days. You can book several ways such as via a travel agency, which is very old school but you know exactly what you’re getting. Many prefer to go direct to the airline which offers the easiest post-booking method to change or adjust your flight.
Another option, which is gaining popularity, is booking through a flight comparison website. In theory, a price comparison website should check against all available options, including agencies and airlines, the provide you with a list of the best possible prices, which enables you to pick the best option for your budget. But are they entirely reliable?
There are so many of these price comparison websites it’s worth checking whether they check and display similar results. According to new research by consumer research group Which?, the answer is no. There is a huge variation between the various sites and you should choose wisely when deciding to search for your next flights, particularly if the price is the main concern.
The Which? experts tested five leading comparison websites, Google Flights, Skyscanner, Kayak, Momondo, and Cheapflights. Whilst checking routes such as London to Malaga one-way, Edinburgh to Athens return and London to Los Angeles return they found while the sites went through the same airline and travel companies there was a big discrepancy between the different sites.
Momondo came out on top, ahead of Cheapflights, followed by Kayak, then by Skyscanner and lastly by Google Flights. The most interesting finding overall was that the most popular, Skyscanner, with a consumer happiness score of 67%, did not come out on top, even though their marketing promotes the comparison site to find the cheapest possible flights.
The London to Orlando flight, in particular, highlighted the price discrepancy where Momondo came in at £756 and Skyscanner £813, which is quite a difference when the comparison sites should find and list the cheapest possible option. A one-way flight to Miami was listed as £770 via Google Flights, but £300 cheaper at £464 via Momondo.
It is worth remembering how these comparison sites make their money. Although using the site to find the cheapest price is free, the website has to make money from you clicking their results, so you could look more closely at how the comparison site has ranked its results. It’s worth looking to see which agencies are missing from their results, too. Some comparison sites may not always include all fees and surcharges, to research these before comparing prices.
It seems like there is a difference in our perception of the flight comparison website market, and it’s definitely worth shopping around and testing out a few different sites before you settle for one. Momondo is still a fairly new kid on the block and their DNA commercial was certainly unique.