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Looking for the best website for tracking airfare prices? As smart travelers, we invest significant amounts of our time and money into finding the best deals on flights around the world. Part of that planning is determining the best time to purchase flights, in a market that often feels volatile and unpredictable.
But it doesn’t have to be, with several websites offering price alerts on tickets. While we consider Google Flights the best website to track changes in the price of airfares, there are a few other options that each have their merits.
We haven’t listed every service that tracks the price of tickets,. Just the standout services and those offering something different to Google Flights' already fantastic functionality. If there is a service we’ve missed or you think would add value to the list, let us know in the comments.
Setting the benchmark for ease of use and functionality, Google Flights has become a go to flight search tool for any travel that doesn’t require the advanced routing and functionality of ITA Matrix. Tracking across multiple dates, destinations, and cabins, Google Flights will let you track individual airlines or alliances, choose the number of stops, and will wrap up any changes into an easily digestible email showing which prices have dropped/risen. If you have Google Now, you can have the price changes sent directly to the app, or you can see all tracked flight in the drop-down on the left of the Google Flights homepage.
- Pros: Tracks multiple dates, destinations, cabin class, allows you to isolate by airline or alliance, highly customizable
- Cons: Doesn’t display historical data, can’t set price thresholds
KAYAK & Yapta
I’ve included these two together in this instance as the startup team behind Yapta jumped on board with KAYAK back in February of 2010, and the two websites share a crossover of features and a similar design. The combination of Yapta and KAYAK probably offers the most powerful combination of features for tracking flight costs, but it can be a touch finicky to use and is not as intuitive as Google Flights.
The FareIQ feature is unique amongst all tracking websites in that it will also track your flight after purchase and send a notification if the price drops, as you could be entitled to a refund from airlines that will refund the difference when the price drops. It pays to know the refund policy of each carrier in this case, as that could be the difference between getting a refund or not.
- Pros: Tracks flexible dates, can set price thresholds, view historical trends and receive price predictions (in KAYAK only), tracks ticket price after purchase
- Cons: User interface could be more intuitive
While Skyscanner is one of the biggest search aggregators in the world, it only has basic functionality when it comes to tracking ticket prices. You can track ticket prices between two specific airports on a particular date. That said, it is still one of the most powerful flight search engines on the web and can track down some smart deals.
- Pros: Very straightforward and intuitive to use, redirects you to book through airline websites
- Cons: Can’t set alerts for flexible dates, no way to set price thresholds for alerts
Working in a polar opposite manner to Skyscanner, Airfare Watchdog allows you to set flight alerts from city-to-city, deals from a departure city, or deals to a destination city. However, you cannot set dates for your flight alerts. Rather than relying solely on computers to do the heavy lifting, the team at Airfare Watchdog have airfare analysts that research fares to ensure they're good deals then send them out to accounts signed up to watch those cities. One benefit is that they can pick up unpublished sales and also fares from airlines like Southwest. Airfare Watchdog is best for setting broad flight alerts that are not date-specific.
- Pros: Set broad flight alerts from city-to-city or to/from cities, will catch unpublished sales and pickup airlines other websites can’t
- Cons: Cannot track specific dates, doesn’t show any historical data, restricted locations
If I had to award a ‘peoples choice’ in this category, it would go to Hipmunk. It does almost as good a job of finding and tracking information on flights as Google Flights, but delivers it inside a better design, displayed according to the ‘agony factor’ of the flight (a combination of time in the air, departure and arrival times, cost and layover), in a beautiful interface.
- Pros: Clean interface, arranges flights based on ‘agony factor’ or price to give you the best flight
- Cons: Can’t set price thresholds or historical trends, doesn’t appear to let you track flights in some overseas destinations
With its customization, flexibility, and simplicity, Google Flights wins hands down when it comes to tracking airfare prices. It is such a basic yet powerful tool for flight discovery, and with the click of a button, you can set alerts on multiple cabins, dates, and destinations. Coming in a close second is the combination of KAYAK and Yapta.
With a few extra functions and a smarter user interface, this combination will be the best flight tracking tool in the market. The ability to track your flights after purchase and be notified if there is a chance of a partial refund has the potential to save a lot of money and adds a layer of value the websites on the list don’t have an answer for.
Remember, when booking your flights through any of the services above to use a card like the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card to earn 2x points travel spending and qualify you for the fantastic perks and insurance coverages the card supplies.
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