Skyscanner: How To Find Flights, Hotels & Car Rentals At The Best Prices

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There are lots of websites available to book flights, hotels, and car rentals these days. So many that it can be hard to know which is the best one.

Whether you’re booking directly through the airline, booking through a credit card travel portal like Amex Travel or Chase Ultimate Rewards Travel, or through an online travel agency (OTA) like Expedia, Hotwire, or Priceline, how do you know which will get you the best deal?

The short answer is, there’s no short answer. (Sorry!) There are lots of factors that can go into getting a good deal on a flight, hotel, or car rental.

The good news is that here at Upgraded Points, we’re doing the hard work for you to help you find the best website to book your next vacation.

In this post, I’m going to take you through Skyscanner, a metasearch engine similar to Kayak. This type of site searches millions of flight, hotel, and car rental options to show you the best choices, then transfers you to another website to book.

I’ll show you the pros and cons of this site and do some price comparisons between Skyscanner and other popular websites like Orbitz, Booking.com, and Kayak.

What is Skyscanner?

Skyscanner is a metasearch engine like Kayak or Google Flights. Skyscanner combs through millions of flight, hotel, and car rental options to find the best choices for your trip.

Once you’re ready to book, Skyscanner will transfer you to the airline, hotel, or car rental website or an online travel agency to complete your booking.

Bottom Line: Skyscanner does NOT charge booking fees on flight, hotel, or rental car reservations.

How to Search for a Flight on Skyscanner [Step by Step]

The home page of Skyscanner has a search engine that functions much like other websites you’re used to. The search box defaults to flights, but if you’re looking for hotels or rental cars, you can use the tabs at the top of the search box.

I’m going to walk you through the steps you’ll follow to search for flights on Skyscanner.

Search for Flights

  1. Start by entering your departure and destination cities. If you’re flexible with your destination, select Everywhere in the search box. This will let Skyscanner find the best deals from your home airport on the specified dates.

    Skyscanner search
    Image courtesy of Skyscanner.
  2. Next, input your travel dates. If you have some flexibility, you can search an entire month. If you have lots of flexibility, you can search for the cheapest month.

    Skyscanner date search
    Image courtesy of Skyscanner.
  3. Next, you’ll need to choose the number of travelers and your cabin class of choice. If you want to search for business or first class flights, you’ll need to input your exact travel dates and destinations. If you’re using the search Everywhere feature or searching for flexible dates, you’ll only be able to see availability for economy seats.

    skyscanner search cabin class
    Image courtesy of Skyscanner.
  4. If you searched for Everywhere, you’ll get a list of destination countries from least to most expensive. Click on the arrow to the right to see specific cities, also in order from least to most expensive.

    Skyscanner Everywhere search
    Image courtesy of Skyscanner.
  5. If you searched using flexible dates, you’ll be able to see a calendar with fares for the months you chose. The lowest prices are shown in green and highest prices are shown in red. After selecting your specific dates, click on Show flights to see the actual flights available.
    Flexible date search in skyscanner
    Image courtesy of Skyscanner.

     

Hot Tip: If you’re using any of Skyscanner’s flexible search options like search everywhere or cheapest month, you’ll only be able to see economy tickets. If you’re interested in business or first class tickets, you’ll need to input a specific date and destination.

Choose a Flight

Once you get to your flight results list, it should be in a format that looks pretty familiar. Your filtering options will be to the left of the screen. Sorting options are in the upper right corner.

Sorting and filtering on skyscanner
Image courtesy of Skyscanner.

You can choose to filter by:

  • Number of stops
  • Departure times
  • Trip duration
  • Airlines (including airline combinations)

Then you can sort your list using the following options:

  • Cheapest
  • Fastest
  • Outbound departure time
  • Return departure time
  • Airline
  • Stops
  1. Once you find the flight you want, click the green Select button.

    Choosing a flight on Skyscanner
    Image courtesy of Skyscanner.
  2. Next, you’ll see a list of options. Click on either the green Select button or the red Book button, and you’ll be transferred to the listed website to complete your purchase. The options with the red button indicate you’ll be booking through Skyscanner, however, I found that wasn’t always the case.

    Completing a booking on skyscanner
    Image courtesy of Skyscanner.
  3. Double check all of the flight details and prices before booking. I found the prices to be accurate, but Skyscanner does state that the prices you see are based on estimated taxes and fees and are subject to change.

Skyscanner Mashups

You might notice a little double ticket icon in the upper right-hand corner of some of your results. This indicates the flight is a Skyscanner Mashup.

Skyscanner Mashups
Look for the double ticket icon in the corner of your search results to identify a Skyscanner mashup fare. Image courtesy of Skyscanner.

These are similar to Kayak Hacker Fares where you’ll be combining tickets from 2 separate providers for your trip. These mashup tickets require you to book 2 separate tickets (usually from different airlines or OTAs) to complete a round-trip ticket.

  1. To book a Mashup ticket, click on the Select button as you normally would.

    booking a mashup ticket on skyscanner
    Image courtesy of Skyscanner.
  2. Under the flight details, you’ll be able to see the 2 websites you’ll be booking from. Click on Next to continue.

    booking a skyscanner mashup ticket
    Image courtesy of Skyscanner.
  3. You’ll then get links to the 2 websites you need to book from. Skyscanner advises opening both links at the same time to double check availability before you actually book.

    Booking a mashup fare on skyscanner
    Image courtesy of Skyscanner.
  4. Once you confirm the flight availability, complete each booking separately.

Hot Tip: Skyscanner Mashup tickets can offer savings over a traditional round-trip ticket, however they aren’t without risk. If something happens and you need to cancel or change your trip, you’ll be dealing with 2 separate tickets that might have different cancellation or change policies.

Links to Priceline and Hotwire

Priceline link on Skyscanner
Image courtesy of Skyscanner.

You might notice links to Priceline and Hotwire mixed in with your search results. These are sponsored (they paid to be there) and will basically transfer your search to one of those sites. You may find lower prices on those sites, or you may not. Look at it as a quick way to expand your search with the click of a button.

Price Alerts

If you’d like Skyscanner to keep you informed of changes in flight prices, you can sign up for price alerts. Just click on Get Price Alerts on the search results page.

Price Alerts on Skyscanner
Image courtesy of Skyscanner.

You can sign up using an email address, Facebook, or your Google account.

Go Green

lower emissions rating from skyscanner
Image courtesy of Skyscanner.

If you’re an environmentally conscious traveler, Skyscanner can help you choose the greenest option. Look out for the flights labeled Lower Emissions. These flights have scored the highest in Skyscanner’s eco-friendly CO2 ratings. Their rating system helps you identify the most eco-friendly flights by calculating the following:

  • Distance traveled
  • Fuel efficiency of aircraft type
  • Direct routes
  • Fuel usage per seat

How to Search for Hotels on Skyscanner [Step by Step]

  1. To start your search for a hotel on Skyscanner, go to the home page and select the Hotels tab at the top.
  2. Input your destination, dates of travel, number of guests, and number of rooms. Unlike searching for a flight on Skyscanner, you can’t search with flexible dates. Click Search Hotels to continue.

    Skyscanner Hotels home page
    Image courtesy of Skyscanner.
  3. Right above your search results list, you’ll see a lot of options to filter your results by. Those options include: price, rating, traveler type, meal plan, cancellation policy, and amenities. You can then sort your list by price, distance to destination, rating, or Fly Stay Save (scroll down for more on this feature).
  4. You can also search for hotels by location using the map in the upper left-hand corner. When you click on this, you’ll be able to see each location pinpointed on a map, so it’s easier to narrow your search using location as your main criteria.

    Skyscanner hotel results filtering options
    Image courtesy of Skyscanner.
  5. Once you’ve made your selection, click See details to continue.
  6. Next, you’ll be able to view the websites that are offering the listed prices. You’ll notice that there’s one featured site, but the text says the deal is available on 2 sites. To see both sites, you need to click the text that says, from 2 sites. If you click on the View Deals button, you’ll be automatically taken to the featured site (Hotels.com in this case). Once you click through, you can complete your reservation on the selected website.

    Hotel details on skyscanner
    Image courtesy of Skyscanner.

Hot Tip: The price you see for a hotel is per night. It will be for the lowest level of room available, and it doesn’t include taxes and fees. To see the actual total for your entire stay, you’ll need to click through to the booking site.

Fly Stay Save

You might have noticed a banner advertising Skyscanner’s Fly Stay Save promotion. This is their version of a vacation package.

Fly Stay Save
Image courtesy of Skyscanner.

You can identify these deals when you’re searching for a hotel. There may be a Fly Save Stay selection in the filtering options above your search results, or you may see a small icon within a search result.

Fly Stay Save
Image courtesy of Skyscanner.

These deals are supposedly available within 24 hours of booking a flight through Skyscanner. However, the fine print claims that this flight and hotel combo won’t be considered a package and therefore, if something goes wrong, you’ll need to contact multiple providers.

If you’re looking to book a travel package, it’s probably best to go through an OTA that offers great deals on packages like Expedia, Orbitz, Hotwire, or Priceline.

Hot Tip: Be cautious when searching for a Fly Stay Save deal. I searched over a dozen listings, and all of the Fly Stay Save options were through Trip.com — and all changed price as soon as I clicked through to the other website.

Skyscanner Car Rental

You can also use Skyscanner to book a rental car or airport shuttle. The site offers rentals from familiar brands like Avis, Hertz, National, Alamo, Enterprise and Budget Car Rental.

After selecting your rental car, Skyscanner will transfer you to the car rental agency to complete your reservation. There’s no separate fee charged by Skyscanner.

How to Search for a Rental Car on Skyscanner [Step-by-Step]

    1. To get started, click on the Car Rental tab at the top of the page.

      Skyscanner Car Rental
      Image courtesy of Skyscanner.
    2. Enter your pick up location, dates, and time, as well as your drop off dates and times. If you need to drop off at a different location check the box marked Return car to a different location.
    3. The results page has all of the filtering options to the right including car type and class, features, and fuel policy.

      Skyscanner Car Rental filtering options
      Image courtesy of Skyscanner.
    4. If you click anywhere in each search result box, you’ll get a drop-down of the specific cars available, along with the rental agency and price. Click the green Reserve button to make your selection. This will take you to the car rental agency or OTA to complete your booking.
Skyscanner Car Rental Search results
Image courtesy of Skyscanner.

Hot Tip: No matter who you choose to rent a car from, be sure to use a credit card that comes with great car rental insurance. For example, the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card comes with primary CDW (Collision Damage Waiver) insurance which provides reimbursement for damage or theft up to the actual cash value of the vehicle. Plus, you’ll earn 2 Ultimate Rewards points per dollar on your rental.

How to Search for an Airport Shuttle on Skyscanner [Step-by-Step]

  1. To search for an airport shuttle on Skyscanner, click on the Car Rental tab in the main menu then select Airport shuttles.

    skyscanner airport shuttle
    Image courtesy of Skyscanner.
  2. Input your pick-up airport, drop off location, and pick-up date and time, then click the green Search button.

    skyscanner airport shuttle
    Image courtesy of Skyscanner.
  3. To the left of your search results, you’ll be able to select the type of transportation you’d like, including private car, private luxury car, private minibus, or private coach. Each search result box will also tell you how many people and bags the vehicle can accommodate. Click Reserve to continue.

    airport shuttle search result
    Image courtesy of Skyscanner.
  4. Just as with booking a rental car, you’ll be transferred to a separate website to complete the booking.

Skyscanner Mobile App

Skyscanner offers a free mobile app that you can use to book your travel.

You’ll need to download the app from the App Store or Google Play, or you can enter your mobile number here, and they’ll send you a download link for the app.

skyscanner mobile app
Image courtesy of Skyscanner.

The Skyscanner mobile app allows you to plan and book your entire trip plus you’ll have all the details at your fingertips.

It offers many of the features of the website including:

  • Flight, hotel, and car rental search function
  • Explore everywhere (searching for any destination)
  • Search by month
  • Search by price
  • Search by map
  1. You can easily search for flights, hotels, or car rentals using the buttons at the top of the home screen.

    Skyscanner App Home Page
    Image courtesy of the Skyscanner mobile app.
  2. Explore by month, destination, or type of trip (like kid-free or quick getaways) by selecting Explore on the bottom of the home screen. Click on Explore Everywhere if you’d like to use Skyscanner’s flexible destination feature.

    Skyscanner App Explore Feature
    Image courtesy of the Skyscanner mobile app.
  3. Click on the Trips icon on the bottom of the screen to see all of your past and upcoming itineraries.

Hot Tip: Another handy mobile app is Hopper. This app predicts the best time to book flights and hotels at the lowest prices to save you money.

How Does Skyscanner Compare to Other Websites?

Let’s take a look to see if Skyscanner can save you money. I’m pricing out the exact same flight, hotel, and rental car on Skyscanner along with other OTAs and metasearch engines to see which ones can save you the most money.

Example #1 — Flight

For this example, let’s look for the cheapest non-stop, round-trip flight from New York (JFK) to Los Angeles (LAX) in economy. Here are the results:

WebsitePriceAirline
Skyscanner$298.60Jet Blue/Alaska Airlines
Expedia$301.11JetBlue
Priceline$301.20JetBlue/Alaska Airlines
Hotwire$330.00Alaska Airlines
Travelocity$351.59American Airlines
Kayak$351.59American Airlines
Google Flights$298.00JetBlue/Delta Airlines

In this example, Skyscanner and Google Flights both come in within a dollar of each other. In this example, Skyscanner will save you money, but it’s not a guarantee. It’s always smart to price out your flights on a couple of websites before you make a purchase.

Great Credit Cards for Flights:

Don’t forget to use a travel rewards credit card that earns bonus points on air travel purchases. Here are some of the top earners:

Example #2 — Hotel

In this example, let’s look at a weeklong stay in a base level room at the Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach Resort (the first result in the Skyscanner search).

WebsitePrice for a week stay at the Hilton (including resort fees and other taxes; all are non-refundable)
Skyscanner (booked via Agoda)$1,726.47
Hilton website$1,875.00
Expedia$1,827.91
Priceline$1,880.41
Hotwire$1,827.91
Travelocity $1,827.91
Kayak$1,827.91
Hotels.com$1,827.91

Skyscanner is the clear winner in this example as far as price goes. You’d save over $100 versus any of the other websites.

However, there are other things to keep in mind when booking a hotel that might influence which website you choose to book through.

  1. If you’re booking a chain hotel like Hilton, Hyatt, or Marriott, any hotel status you have may not be recognized if you don’t book directly through their website and you won’t earn any hotel loyalty points.
  2. Some OTAs have their own loyalty program which can save you money over the listed price. Look out for Expedia member rates, Orbitz rewards, or Hotels.com rewards.

Great Credit Cards for Hotels:

Don’t forget to use a travel rewards credit card that earns bonus points on hotel purchases. Here are some of the top earners:

Hot Tip: Booking a chain hotel that has a loyalty program through a website like Skyscanner means you might miss out on earning hotel loyalty points and enjoying benefits of any elite status you may have.

Example #3 — Car Rental

In this example, let’s look at a week-long rental in Denver for an economy car.

WebsiteCost of car rental
Skyscanner (through CarRental8.com)$272.58
Expedia$291.45
Priceline$258.41
Hotwire$277.61
Travelocity$291.45
Kayak$258.44

Bottom Line: For this example, Skyscanner ended up in the middle of the pack, with the best prices going to Priceline and Kayak. As you can see, Skyscanner often offers the lowest prices, but not always.

Great Credit Cards for Car Rentals:

When you’re renting a car, don’t forget to use a credit card that offers great car rental insurance. Often you can avoid purchasing the extra insurance from the rental company if your card offers enough coverage. Here are some of our favorites:

Final Thoughts

Skyscanner is a metasearch engine that combs through countless flights, hotels, and rental cars to find a great match for your needs. This site excels in its ability to do flexible flight searches, including the search everywhere feature and cheapest month search feature.

Skyscanner can often have the lowest price, but it’s not a guarantee. It’s best to search for your flights, hotels, or rental cars on a few different websites before booking to ensure you get the best deal for your needs.


Featured Image Credit: Shutterstock.com

FAQ

How do I set up alerts on Skyscanner?

To set up price alerts in Skyscanner, first search for the flight route that you’re interested in. Then, click on Get Price Alerts in the upper left-hand corner of your screen. You’ll be prompted to set up your alert by signing in with an email address, your Google account, or your Facebook account.

How do I find the cheapest flights on Skyscanner?

Finding the cheapest flights on Skyscanner can be done in 2 ways. First, if you have a set destination and travel dates, just sort your results list by price. This way you can easily see the cheapest option.

If your travel plans are flexible, consider using the search everywhere and search cheapest month features. This will show you the lowest priced routes at the lowest priced times from your home airport

Katie Seemann

About Katie Seemann

Katie is an Ohio native who caught the travel bug after spending a semester in college in Nottingham, England. In addition to exploring England, she visited Ireland, Scotland and the Netherlands during that time and loved every minute of it (everything except the hostel in Scotland – that’s an experience she doesn’t intend on repeating!) In 2015, Katie discovered the world of points and miles, and since then she’s earned countless points and has an embarrassingly large number of credit cards in her wallet (which she needs a spreadsheet to keep track of!)

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