What's the best flight

Flight comparison: the 5 best flight search engines [2021]

There are definitely 100 flight search engines. Which of these is the best for low prices and flexible flight searches? Which one finds the best long haul, short haul and open jaw flights?

Find cheap flights with flight search engines

Flight search engines are often based on Airfares compared. It's easy, but useless.

Imagine you want to move and you don't know where to go yet. Are you comparing rental prices in any neighborhoods around the world on suspicion? You will probably first decide on a city.

Likewise, you should first focus on one Set flight and then after one low price search for this flight connection.

Before the flight price comparison comes the flight search:

  1. In the Flight search find a suitable flight.
  2. In the Flight booking you can find the best price for that flight.

Kiwi e.g. finds flights better than e.g. Skyscanner. But it shows a higher price than Skyscanner for the same flight.

So kiwi is one first class flight search engine, but only one third class "flight book machine". Exactly the other way around with Skyscanner.

Which flight search engines are for which flights preferably? I worked as a flight expert at Flightfox for 1 year and here are my tips:

Search flexibly for cheap flights

If you already know before you search for a flight that you want to fly from Cologne to Singapore on March 21, you are giving away money. The trick is to look flexible. This means:

  • flexible search for time
  • flexible search by location

Maybe a day later the flight is only half as expensive. If you are like me, you often only know a week or month for a flight.

Or do you save around half if you fly from Düsseldorf or even Amsterdam? How about a cheap flight to Bangkok and then a domestic flight?

Or are you going on a tour of Malaysia anyway? Then you probably don't care whether you start in Singapore, Penang or Kuala Lumpur. Just take the cheapest flight.

Or what do you think of similar Asian cities like Hong Kong and Tokyo as alternatives? Singapore is not running away and may have cheaper flights next time.

5 best flight search engines with flexibility in comparison

The more flexible you are with place and time, the more you can save. But that's only true if your flight search engine can search flexibly.

If you want to search freely in time and place, the 5 best flight search engines with flexibility are:

  1. kiwi
  2. Azair
  3. ITA matrix
  4. Swoodoo / Kayak
  5. Google Flights

There are even more flight search engines that supposedly search flexibly. However, they then only look for outdated data on a random basis. Flight searches are very expensive.

This also includes popular flight search engines such as Skyscanner and Momondo. These two are bad at finding flights. You are all the better for the subsequent flight booking.

Kiwi: best flight search engine 2021 for long haul & domestic flights

If you only want to use a single flight search engine, use Kiwi * (formerly Skypicker). Kiwi can do everything, is easy to use and more flexible than any other flight search engine:

  • With country, continent and radius search, as well as "No specific destination" you can search very flexibly for places.
  • You can search for a date very flexibly with the length of stay and period search, as well as “Sometime”.

For short haul and domestic flights, there is no alternative to Kiwi. Exceptions are very advanced things like hidden city tickets. It's worth it in the Americas, but not in Europe and Asia.

For international long-haul routes, it depends. Kiwi is great for round trips. For one-way, stopover, open jaw and multi-stop use a specialized flight search engine - see below.

In these areas too, kiwi is getting better and better. The beta test of the “Nomad” function for flexible stopovers and multi-city options is currently underway.

Kiwi masters so-called hacking fares better than other flight search engines. Flight segments of different airlines are put together.

Usually with this segmentation there is a risk for connecting flights. However, Kiwi sells combination tickets with a guarantee in the event of delays, cancellations and changes.

Go to the flight search engine Kiwi *

Azair: Flight search engine for one-way with multi-ticket

Azair is a flight search engine specialized in One Ways. These are one-way flights without a return flight.

One-way long-haul routes are expensive with traditional airlines. They cost almost as much as the return flight combined. In the case of low-cost airlines, the price is simply halved.

Azair only considers low-cost airlines and not traditional airlines in the search. So you can be sure that you won't pay extra for One Ways.

Azair searches almost as flexibly as kiwi:

  • With country and continent search, as well as "Anywhere" you can search spatially very flexibly.
  • With the duration of stay and period search you can search very flexibly in terms of time.

Azair can segment just as well as kiwi. You also have more options when it comes to segmentation. Setting the maximum length of stay is very useful for longer stopovers.

Due to the restriction on low-cost airlines, Azair is unsuitable for some destinations. For example, there are very few low-cost airlines in Africa and parts of South America.

Please note that you often need an onward flight for one-way entry.

Go to the Azair flight search engine

Matrix: flight search engine for open jaws, multistop & stopover

The ITA Matrix is ​​a powerful flight search engine for professionals. You can search for specific flights and combinations.

Unfortunately, the matrix is ​​not as user-friendly as other search engines. It is the flight search engine with the greatest potential. But you have to use airport codes and advanced search.

I mainly use the ITA matrix for special flight searches:

  • Open jaw flights
  • Multi-stop flights
  • Free stopover
  • Hidden City Ticketing

The "advanced controls" are particularly powerful. With the "X:" search you can find several cities for free stopovers at the same time. It works in the same way for Hidden City. More on free stopovers.

The Matrix was once the best flight search engine. Unfortunately, it was severely restricted a few years ago. All search queries now terminate after 30 seconds, regardless of whether they are completed or not.

In the case of complex search queries, you will only be shown some of the results. You would have to split an extensive flight search into smaller flight searches. That doesn't always work and makes searching for flights cumbersome.

So you can no longer process hundreds of airport codes in one search. If you are well versed in flight connections, the matrix is ​​a powerful tool.

Go to the ITA Matrix flight search engine

Google Flights: Simple & fast flight search engine

Google bought ITA and the Matrix. Google Flights is the successor with a new user interface and map.

Google's flight search is by far the fastest. Unfortunately, speed and ease of use come at the expense of power. Many tricks from the matrix are missing.

It's a shame, Google Flights could actually be groundbreaking in terms of technology. But it falls far short of the expectations and capabilities of Kiwi.

In theory, Google Flights is a flexible flight search. But you cannot flexibly search for time and place at the same time. You have to decide on either a time or a place.

Google Flights does not find open jaw flights and cannot segment automatically. It's also of no help in finding free stopovers.

For normal round trips, Google Flights can still be a good idea. It's best if you already know relatively exactly when or where you want to fly.

Go to the flight search engine Google Flights

Kayak: Solid flight search engine with Swoodoo power search

Kayak and the German version Swoodoo are old hands among flight search engines. They are solid flight search engines, but old-fashioned and without special strengths.

The Swoodoo power search is an exception. If you don't have a specific travel destination yet, you can use it to compare prices worldwide.

The Swoodoo power search is now also available at Kiwi with more settings * and filters. While the power search at Swodoo is based on historical prices, Kiwi seems to be searching currently.

Kayak and Swoodoo are flexible, but limited:

  • Time: +/- 3 days
  • Location: 3 airports each from / to

With the time-flexible search, results seem to be neglected. As you move on to that day, you suddenly see more options.

After all, Swoodoo and Kayak automatically find fork flights and are also fine for multi-stop flights. Even hacker fares, i.e. segmented flights, are sometimes found.

Price history and price alarms are a funny idea, but relatively useless in practice. Stopovers can be easily filtered and also searched for in a targeted manner. The nerve factor caused by popups is high.

Go to the flight search engine Swoodoo

Flystein: human flight search by experts

Flystein is a very special "flight search engine". You can hire flight search experts to beat your price. If they find a better deal, you'll pay a finder's fee.

Flight experts can search very flexibly and individually according to your wishes. They also know many tricks to find the best flight, regardless of whether it is price or comfort.

Skeptical? Read my experience report with Flystein.

Because of the finder's fee, Flystein is only worthwhile for more expensive flights, from around 300 euros. Are best optimizable

  • Flexible flights from the date
  • Flights flexible from the location
  • Stopover wanted
  • Long haul flights
  • Multicity and world tour
  • Business and first class
  • Earn award flights or miles
  • Markets with few airlines like Africa, South America

The higher the price, the greater the savings potential. On a world tour or multicity you should definitely try Flystein.

Go to the flight experts from Flystein *

Conclusion on the flight search engine comparison & applications

These were application examples for 5 flexible flight search engines:

  1. kiwi* is the best flight search engine for the vast majority of flights
  2. Azair is good for one-way with sometimes unusual multi-ticket combinations
  3. ITA matrix lets you search deeper, especially for open jaws, multi-stops and stopovers
  4. Google flights and Kayak / Swoodoo not worth it

If you want to travel around the world, read my guide for cheap world travel tickets from 1,000 euros.

If you are planning a complicated flight, it is often worth using a "human flight search engine". Flight experts know a lot of tricks and try to beat your price.

All flight search engines except the 5 mentioned can only search flexibly to an extremely limited extent. But that doesn't mean they're useless.

After the flight search comes the flight booking. Neither Kiwi, nor Azair, nor the Matrix have a good fare comparison. You'd better go to Skyscanner or Momondo afterwards.

Flight booking & price comparison with Skyscanner & Momondo

You have found your dream flight with Kiwi, Azair or the Matrix and now want to book it. Compare the prices in a meta flight search engine such as Skyscanner or Momondo.

Meta means that several ticket sellers are compared. This is how you avoid tricks from airlines, travel portals and white labels. Most of the time you will see the cheapest price for a flight.

Travel portals often show a cheaper price if you come from Skyscanner or Momondo. You are in direct competition in the meta search engine and only get the "Book" button with the cheapest price.

You can enter all possible flights on Skyscanner and Momondo. The two are not very good at looking for fork flights. You can still enter the open jaw flights you have found via stopover / multi-stop.

Sometimes the Idealo meta flight search engine finds even cheaper prices. However, you cannot enter multi-cities there, only one-way, round-trip and open-jaw flights.

It's best to compare it on the airline's website. If the price is similar, book directly with the airline. So you have a direct line in the event of problems and more choice when booking.

Where do you look for your flights? Do you know more flexible flight search engines?

The travel camera for my photos is a Canon professional compact *

* Affiliate advertising link: If my information helps you, please use it to buy - nothing extra!