I was raised in the era when airline reservation desks were still a thing. Back then, whenever you wanted to book cheap family flights, you would have to call up the airline to make your reservation.
This was in the early days of the internet, when making financial transactions online were still somewhat dubious. I remember having to wait on the phone for a representative. I would have to listen to horrible on-hold music, and feel powerless to the ticket rates that were given to me.
Things have changed drastically since then. These days, I do all my flight bookings online. I also do the hotel booking and car rental, if need be. With the abundance of flight search engines out there, it’s much easier for me to shop around for the best price for cheap family flights. And all of this without having to spend too much time just waiting to be connected.
Searching for cheap family flights
When it comes to finding cheap family flights, my current search engine of choice is Kayak. But I’ve also used Vayama in the past. Recently, I’ve heard good things about Momondo and Skyscanner. But I have not had a chance to try either of them. Also, Google now has their own flight search engine, Google Flights, which has piqued my interest.
I’m always looking to get a good deal, especially for airline tickets. And I wonder if it’s worth straying from my tried and true Kayak to some of these other search engines.
I figure, now is as good a time as any to test them out. For this test, I’m comparing round trip airfare from Seattle, WA to San Jose, Costa Rica for travel between August 13th to the 27th. I’ll look at the prices for five flight search engines – Kayak, Vayama, Momondo, Skyscanner, and Google Flights – to see which search engine is the best one to find cheap family flights.
Kayak allows you to search for round trip, one way, and multi-city airline tickets with either specific dates or flexible dates. They also have an option where you can select other major flight search engines like Priceline, Expedia, or Orbitz to compare prices.
In my flight search for cheap family flights, I found a round trip flight from Seattle to San Jose through United for $713. When I clicked through to the United airlines site to book, the price went down to $712.
There’s nothing that particularly special about Vayama. However, unlike Kayak and other flight search engines, Vayama allows you to book your flight through their site, rather than redirecting you to another site.
They’re different from other search engines in that they are an actual travel agency, and their customer service is pretty good. The service, though, comes with a price. Searching for a round trip flight from Seattle to San Jose yielded me a $764 ticket through Delta Airlines.
What I like about Momondo is that it provides you with a graphic of what the airline prices are for the days surrounding your flight date. So you can really see whether you’re flying on the cheapest possible day.
Using Momondo to search for cheap family flights, the cheapest round trip ticket I found was for $716 through United, which is comparable to what I found using Kayak, though not as cheap (albeit by only $3).
Like Kayak, Skyscanner has the option for you to select price comparisons with other flight search engines like Webjet, Priceline, and Expedia. So you’ll know if you’re getting the best deal for cheap family flights.
The best price I could find for Seattle to San Jose round trip was $717 through United. When I clicked through to the United website, the price went down to $712, which was the same as what I had gotten with my Kayak search.
One cool thing about Google Flights is that it shows you the ticket prices as you’re selecting your travel dates. So you already get an idea of how much your ticket is going to cost. The results are sorted by best results first, and then by least expensive to most expensive.
Since I’m usually going for the least expensive option, this is a bit inconvenient for me. I prefer to see the results sorted by cheapest to most expensive rather than by what Google determines as the best price. The cheapest flight I found using Google Flights was for $732 through United, and when I clicked through to the United website, the rate went down to $727.
The verdict: choosing the best flight search engine for our family
I found that I got the best prices using Kayak and Skyscanner. While I liked being able to see the flight prices by travel date, as was the case for Momondo and Google Flights, most of the time when I book flights, my dates are pretty fixed (as we have to plan around work schedules and school schedules). So the flexible flights option is not that particularly useful for me.
Since I am usually purchasing tickets for my whole family rather than traveling alone, I thought I’d give these search engines the family test. This entailed searching for tickets for two adults and two children aged 5 and under.
The results were actually quite interesting. Kayak ended up giving me the most expensive price at $712 average per person. Skyscanner gave me the cheapest at an average price of $671. Even Vayama, which was the most expensive when searching for an individual ticket, was cheaper than Kayak at $702 per person.
So it seems I may have found my new favorite flight search engine, Skyscanner. In all honesty, all the search engines have their pros and cons. And you will most likely find cheap family flights on any of those flight search engines.
If you’re a regular solo traveler, Kayak will still be the best option for you. It consistently provides the best price for individual air tickets. But if you, like me, regularly fly with kids, you’re better off going with a flight search engine that offers discounted prices for kids. Either way, it doesn’t hurt to shop around to find your cheap family flights.
Do you have a favorite flight search engine for cheap family flights? Share them in the comments!
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