As members of Scott’s Cheap Flights know, when we send a deal to members, we include a link to a sample search; often this sample search is on Google Flights or Skyscanner, and sometimes, we link to both.
Members have asked which is better, but it’s not so much a matter of one being better than the other. Rather, we recommend using both to cover all your bases and make sure you’re unearthing the best flights at the lowest prices. Additionally, neither site is perfect. In some cases, the downfalls of Google Flights mirror the benefits of Skyscanner, and vice versa.
Why we love Google Flights
Google Flights is a super fast flight search site with lots of great capabilities to help you find the lowest price quickly and easily. Google Flights allows you to search up to seven destination and departure airports at once and the calendar shows you the cheapest dates within a two-month period. The Google Explore Map will show you the cheapest place to go from your airport during a particular time frame.
Google Flights also allows you to set price alerts so you’ll be notified when prices on a tracked route or flight change. And, Google Flights has also rolled out a pricing guidance tool (not yet available on all routes and dates) that tells you if the prices you’re seeing are average, high, or low for that route on those dates, based on historical date.
Weaknesses of Google Flights
Google Flights is not always the best at finding the absolute lowest price for a particular flight, because it doesn’t search many of the smaller OTAs. Similarly, many Mistake Fares, which happen when an airline or OTA accidentally discounts a price by up 90% off, don’t show up on Google Flights. Finally, prices on Google Flights sometimes “ghost,” which is when the price shown no longer exists and the real fare is much higher.
>> Read our guide to Google Flights or our advanced hacks for Google Flights
Why we love Skyscanner
Skyscanner has some of the same great features as Google Flights. The site allows for flexible date searching and makes it easy to see when cheaper fares are available. It also allows a lot of flexibility on location; you can search for flights from an entire country rather than from a specific city or airport, and the Search Everywhere tool shows you the cheapest destinations from your airport during the time period you choose. Like Google Flights, Skyscanner also allows you to track flight prices and get alerted when the prices for a particular trip change.
Additionally, Skyscanner can unearth some fares Google Flights misses, as it searches lots of small OTAs, which can sometimes have cheaper prices.
Weaknesses of Skyscanner
As with Google Flights, Skyscanner sometimes displays ghost fares that are no longer active. And, while it does have great flexible date searching, its fare calendar doesn’t live-update, which means the pricing you see for less frequently searched routes might be incomplete. Finally, some of the OTAs that Skyscanner searches are questionable. You can see an OTA’s star rating on Skyscanner, but you may need to do some additional vetting before you buy.
>> Read our guide to using Skyscanner
Features comparison of Google Flights and Skyscanner
Bottom line: Google Flights and Skyscanner are two of the best sites for searching for flights. Both have some great functionality, but each also has some areas for improvement.
That’s why we often recommend pairing multiple search sites to ensure you're getting the best deal. E.g. you may want to start out on Google Flights to refine dates and location and then move to Skyscanner (and/or Kayak or Momondo) to check prices on smaller OTAs to compare prices and make sure you’re getting the best deal possible for your particular trip.