Finding cheap flights: comparing search engines (Priceline vs. Skyscanner)

Your favorite site for cheap flights isn’t so cheap anymore.

No one wants to spend a lot of time shopping for plane tickets online. You’ve been using Priceline as your search engine for years and that’s what you’re comfortable with… but maybe you’re ready to fly cheaper.

There are plenty of ways to fly cheap that you may not have heard about. With ever popular sites like Priceline, Orbitz, Expedia, and so many more… well, sometimes it can feel a bit overwhelming. These days, I do less shopping around because I’ve found what works best for me.

I use Skyscanner.  In my experience, they find the cheapest flights.  Select your dates, select your mates, and you’re off.

Is it that simple, though?

For me, the experience has been a resounding yes.  By planning in advance, I was able to get tickets to South Africa for $750.

Let’s do a quick comparison between Priceline and Skyscanner. It’s a last minute booking, so for this test example we’re booking a little over a week in advance.

Our travel plan looks like this: Departing from Chicago to Cape Town, South Africa on July 21st, returning July 29th.

Departing on July 21st at 7:10pm (flight time: 36h 50m)
Returning on July 29th at 2:35pm (flight time: 29h 35m)
Total is $1,802.39 before taxes and fees.

Departing on July 21st at 12:59pm (flight time: 25h 21m)
Returning on July 29th at 10:18pm (flight time: 30h 18m)
Total is $1,498 before taxes and fees.

Here’s where flight sites like Skyscanner are the real winners.

Unlike Priceline, Skyscanner is a website that uses algorithms to find which airline has the cheapest flights – all over the world.
You would save $304.39 with Skyscanner as your resource.
In addition to the price, this particular flight is roughly 10 hours less on the plane.  Departure is earlier as well, giving you more time in South Africa on both the front and back end.
In this circumstance, Skyscanner is a superior tool for finding the perfect flight.

While it may seem like I’m knocking Priceline, I’m really not.  They’re great for package deals – renting cars, flights, and hotels all in one bundle.  It all comes down to what your situation is, what you’re looking for, and what you’d be comfortable with.

For me?  Skyscanner all the way.

2 thoughts on “Finding cheap flights: comparing search engines (Priceline vs. Skyscanner)

  1. It seems like cheap flights don’t exist anymore! I never used Priceline before, but it doesn’t look like the best option anyway 🙂 Since we’re flying from Belgium mostly, we use a Belgian website which offers pretty cheap connections to some places. We always end up flying to the cheaper destinations and travel over land. It’s not a good budget option though because we always spend more by overland travel :p Great share!

    1. Thanks for your insight, Inge! I’m always curious to hear about what it’s like finding flights in other countries. Sometimes it baffles me that they don’t really offer any discounts for flights – can you imagine what things would be like with 25% off your flight?

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