Members of Scott’s Cheap Flights know that there are few flight search sites we routinely recommend—Google Flights, Skyscanner, Kayak, Priceline, and Momondo among them. We like these sites because they have specific functionality that makes it easier to find deals.
For example, Google Flights allows you to search up to seven departure and arrival airports; Skyscanner lets you search for flights to “Everywhere” for specific dates, and Momondo searches hundreds of smaller OTAs so it often finds the lowest price.
However, not all of the functions on a site’s desktop experience translate to a mobile one. Between clunky interfaces that just don’t work well on a phone and search apps with a fraction of their parent site’s functionality, the quality of flight searching apps and mobile sites can vary greatly.
When it comes to mobile searching, these four best flight apps make it a little easier. As always, we often recommend starting with Google Flights, however, Google Flights doesn’t have an app and some functionality is not available on mobile, so you’ll need to start with a desktop search before moving on to one of these flight apps.
The streamlined Skyscanner app offers all of Skyscanner’s web features on your phone. By changing the destination setting to “Everywhere,” Skyscanner shows customers the best flight deals to a variety of locations all over the world based on their dates. The app further enhances this function with the “Explore” tab, which serves up recommended trips based on categories like “Solo Travel,” “Quick Getaways,” and “Last Minute,” as well as the best flight deals for upcoming weekends and specific months. Users can easily turn price alerts on and off through the app and past flight searches are surfaced at the bottom of the Search tab for one-click access.
Users can set up a profile to save search preferences on all their devices and securely store important travel data like passport information and airline loyalty accounts. The app’s Trips tabs keeps all future and past travel booked through Skyscanner in one place, and hotel and rental car searches are also supported on the app.
Kayak’s Explore tab isn’t quite as robust or sleekly designed as Skyscanner’s, but it does let users click around an illustrated map of suggested destinations marked by ticket price. Users can search the map based on price, dates, distance, and themes like “Beaches,” “Golfing,” and “Family.” The drawback here is the size of the map—on a phone-sized screen, the map can appear visually crowded and difficult to navigate by touch.
Aside from searching for flights, car rentals, and hotels, the Kayak app also allows users to personalize their experience by setting up price alerts, storing information for multiple travelers and rewards programs, and enabling a slew of notifications like monthly travel tips, special offers, travel inspiration, and helpful refund info for travel booked through Kayak.
The Trips section is handy while traveling, as it allows users to sign up for flight status, check-in, and gate change notifications, set up and organize packing lists, automatically share travel information with authorized email addresses, and import bookings directly from their email account to the app. The tab keeps all upcoming travel details in one place and can be accessed even without an active internet connection. Kayak even includes a function that helps users measure their bag using their phone’s camera to make sure it fits within an airline’s restrictions on carry-on or checked luggage sizes.
Skiplagged follows a totally different model than most of the other flight deal apps. It employs a loophole called “hidden-city ticketing.” Skiplagged finds travelers unexpected deals by finding itineraries where the desired destination isn’t the route’s scheduled end-point, but rather a layover somewhere along the way.
For example, say you’re looking for a roundtrip ticket from New York to Chicago. A normal OTA would only show you flights connecting originating in NYC and terminating in Chicago. Skiplagged expands your search to include flights from New York to other cities, (for example, Tulsa, Denver or Kansas City) that have a layover in Chicago, as these combinations might be cheaper than your original route. When the flight connects in Chicago, instead of continuing on to the next city on the itinerary, you’ll just hop off in Chicago.
This flight deal hack might sound a bit complicated, and it does have some caveats. You can’t do it on a roundtrip unless it’s the final leg of the return that you’re skipping (once you skip a leg all subsequent flights will be cancelled) and you can’t check luggage. Additionally, if you do it often enough and the airline catches on, they can impose penalties like canceling your frequent flyer miles. But, if the savings are big enough and you can travel light and don’t do it often, it can be a great way to save.
The Skiplagged app makes it obvious when the itinerary involves hidden-city ticketing, the design is clean and user-friendly, and you can purchase tickets right in the app.
Design-wise, Momondo’s purple-hued app offers many of the same features as Kayak. We especially like Momondo because it checked hundreds of smaller OTAs so it can often find a cheaper price than other sites. However, it’s not great for flexible date (or flexible location search).
Users can either search for trips starting and ending on a specific set of dates or expand their search to include up to three days before or after their desired departure and arrival dates. Users can also check out a flight calendar before calculating their results which gives a visual indication of price changes surrounding their desired dates. Momondo then allows users to sort search results based on price, duration, best overall itinerary, and a “Custom” tab which lets users build their own itineraries from a bunch of different one way flights (though opting for mix-and-match flights like these most likely means purchasing each flight in a separate transaction).
The My Trips tab allows users to keep all their upcoming travel information in one place, including synced itineraries from email, updates on gate changes, check-in times, and flight delays, and shared itineraries, all of which is also accessible offline. Setting up a profile on Momondo streamlines future flight searches by saving a user’s preferences from previous searches and fare alerts are easy to set up throughout the app. Also like Kayak, users can measure their bags ahead of time with the helpful in-app tool.
Bonus: Scott’s Cheap Flights
OK, so Scott’s Cheap Flights isn’t an app, but when it comes to scoring flight deals to destinations all over the world, we think we’re one of the best resources for travelers.
Simply join, select your home airport (and any other airports you want to follow) and watch your inbox for deals. Our team of flight experts spends hundreds of hours every week searching for amazing deals departing from more than 600 airports around the world. When we find a great deal departing from one of your airports, we send you an email with all the details you need to book the deal, either directly with the airline or using a reputable site like Kayak, Google Flights, Momondo, Priceline, or Skyscanner.
We have strict standards for our deals. We call it the Mom Test: if it’s not a flight we’d put our mothers on (and we love our mothers), then it’s not a deal we’ll send members. We only send deals on reputable airlines and we look for good routing, lots of availability, and a great price. On average, our members save $550 per ticket off regular prices.