An aggregator is a website that search for deals across multiple websites and shows you the results in one place. For example, if you wanted to find a cheap flight from New York City to London, you could sit down and check American Airlines and then British Airways and then Iceland Air and then... or you could just head to a website like Skyscanner, which will check hundreds of airlines at once and show you which one is cheapest.
It really is that simple! By heading to an aggregator, you're practically guaranteed to find a cheaper flight than if you'd searched manually.
Because students are a special fare class unto themselves, you'll often find the cheapest airfare using an online student travel agency's search -- student airfare finders like STA Travel can often beat the best prices aggregators can find, as the aggregator is searching "regular" fares while STA is searching student-specific fares. It's always a good idea to check a student travel agency's airfare price against the price found by an aggregator, though, as it's not consistent as to which will be cheapest.
Which Aggregators Are Best?
There are dozens of travel aggregators out there, so I'll recommend the few that I always check before booking my flights.
Skyscanner: If you check only one aggregator during your research, make it Skyscanner. Skyscanner is my number one pick, as it's almost always gives you the cheapest price on flights.
One of my favourite features of the website is getting to look at flights over an entire month to find which date is cheapest, and searching from my location to "everywhere" to see where I can fly inexpensively to. It's great for building travel inspiration and looking at destinations you may not have originally considered flying to.
Adioso: Adioso is where I head to after Skyscanner, as I love using their simple search engine. Adioso has some pretty nifty features that Skyscanner doesn't, too. You can search from your current location to "somewhere warm" or "a budget city" or "a local festival", depending on whatever you're in the mood for, which can be a lot of fun! You can also search by continent, too, which not many other aggregators let you do.
Google Flights: Google Flights is easy to use and has a cool mapping feature to help you easily see where you can affordably fly to on your budget. Google Flights will occasionally find cheaper prices than Skyscanner or Adioso, so if you're still not happy with the price you've been given with those aggregators, head here next.
About Booking Buddy
Booking Buddy pulls together 29 aggregators, like Kayak, on one page. You must choose which aggregator you want to use for your travel search and then return to Booking Buddy to search another aggregator, but it's very nice to have all of 'em in one place. A few of the Booking Buddy choices:
- Yahoo FareChase
You'll notice that none of the websites I recommended using above are not included in Booking Buddy's search, so make sure you check each of those individually, rather than booking whatever Booking Buddy shows up first.
The Key is Research
As you've probably figured out, the key to picking up a fantastic deal using a travel aggregator is to use many of them and compare the different prices to see which is cheapest. You don't have to spend hours and hours searching, though, -- just pick two or three of them and if you find a price you're happy with, go for it!
This article has been edited and updated by Lauren Juliff.