Looking for a cheap holiday? These are the best (and worst) booking sites

If you’re thinking about booking your flights soon, think twice before paying that money(Picture: Getty Images)

When booking a holiday we all want to find the ultimate deal, with the cheapest flights and best-value for money accommodation.

But using a booking site such as Expedia could leave you spending more than you need to.

The popular site was named and shamed in new research by Which? for consistently failing to find holidaymakers the cheapest flight options out there.

The consumer watchdog surveyed its members about their experiences of using both comparison sites (which trawl the internet for the best prices) and booking sites (which allow travellers to search for flights and accommodation and book on the same platform).

Not-so-cheap flights

While Expedia was the highest-scoring platform in the survey, with a customer score of 70%, it was the site least likely to find consumers the cheapest flights.

Woman looks out the window of a plane

Booking comparison sites didn’t always find the best deals for flights (Picture: Getty Images)

The researchers found this by checking 10 different flight journeys across nine websites (including four booking sites and five comparison sites), recording the price shown for bookings one week, six weeks and six months before the departure date.

Expedia failed to return the cheapest option every single time. This is likely because it does not offer flights from some budget airlines, such as Ryanair and Wizz Air.

On the bright side though, those surveyed awarded it three stars for value for money, ease of finding flexible fares, transparency of fees and how easy it was to use the website.

But Expedia wasn’t the only comparison site falling short. Booking platform Opodo had the most shocking customer service score out of all sites surveyed – with just 28% of customers satisfied.

Best booking sites for buying plane tickets:

  1. Opodo
  2. Google Flights
  3. Cheap Flights
  4. Kayak
  5. Tripadvisor
  6. Skyscanner
  7. Lastminute.com
  8. Booking.com
  9. Expedia

The booking company received just a one star rating for customer service, with difficulties getting hold of customer service agents being a very frequent complaint. One respondent said the site offers ‘zero customer service’.

Cheapest booking site

If you can get past the apparently poor customer service though, the site was the best for returning the cheapest flights available the most consistently.

Out of the 30 times Which? compared flights on this platform, it managed to find the cheapest option 11 times.

Boy sits on a suitcase at an airport

Which? found that it would be cheaper to book the flights directly (Picture: Getty Images)

Which? also warned consumers about the fine print, or in other words the add-ons when booking, which often drive the price up.

Online travel agents may often offer the cheapest headline fare, but once extras like baggage or seat selection are added, the final price is usually significantly more expensive than booking directly with the airline.


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Another benefit to booking directly is it will ensure you know where the responsibility lies when something goes wrong. 

Google Flights was the best performing site when it came to customer service – with a score of 64% but it only managed to find the cheapest flights on six out of 30 occasions.

Best booking sites for finding cheap accommodation:

  1. Kayak
  2. Trivago
  3. Skyscanner
  4. Hotels.com
  5. Expedia
  6. Travel Supermarket
  7. Booking.com
  8. Agoda
  9. Lastminute.com

This was still better than sites Kayak and Cheap Flights, which both found the cheapest available options for flying five out of 30 times.

Annoyingly, there’s no clear winner when it comes to the online travel booking site you should trust to book your holiday with. They all have their pros and cons.

Opodo found the cheapest flights the most consistently

Opodo found the cheapest flights the most consistently (Picture: Getty Images)

Shop around

Which? does recommend checking at least a couple of platforms before committing to a booking decision.

In short, you might just be better off booking directly for that next trip, at least then you know exactly what you’re getting.

When it comes to hotel bookings Which? compared the cost of 30 overnight stays in 10 hotels across nine websites and again found booking direct offered a better price half the time.

Kayak and Trivago did consistently find the lowest prices on 12 occasions when comparing hotel costs, while Skyscanner successfully found them 11 times.

Naomi Leach, Deputy Editor of Which? Travel, said: ‘If you’re looking to book a flight or hotel, our research shows comparison sites can be an excellent starting point, scouring the internet to take the hard work out of your decision-making.

‘We’d advise checking a couple of different platforms so you have the best possible chance of finding the right option for you.

‘Once you’ve narrowed down your selection, book directly. Booking with the airline will usually prove cheaper than using an Online Travel Agent, and will mean you know exactly who is responsible should something go wrong.

‘Calling a hotel directly will often secure you the best price or at the very least they’ll throw in a freebie like a bottle of wine or a room upgrade.’

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Source: metro.co.uk

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