Here in the USA, we are missing a good, widely-know low-fare flight search engine for European flights. Once, traveling inexpensively in Europe was solely the province of trains. Today, flying is often far more inexpensive than trains and saves loads of money and time on longer journeys.
Using Expedia, Orbitz, Travelocity, CheapOAir and the other normal major-centric search engines won’t bring up the super-low-cost airlines of Europe. For intra-European travel, bargain-conscious travelers need to go elsewhere.
Three search engines fill the bill.
Both Momondo and Skyscanner have good smartphone apps that have been a lifesaver when making changes to travel plans on the fly. Those two search engines are the ones that I have used recently. Each of these websites sends travelers directly to the booking engines of the airlines involved with your travel.
When booking flights, take a look at multiple sites. The results are not always identical because each site has a different algorithm for its flight search and because there may be deals negotiated by various sites.
The important factor with each of these sites is that they include Ryanair, Easy Jet and Vueling, the big dogs of low fare travel.
Plus, these sites alert travelers when airline flights listed are arriving in alternative airports such as Bergamo rather than Milan or Girona instead of Barcelona. These alternative airports may save money on the flight, but they add significantly to time needed to get to the city centers should travelers be headed downtown. On the other hand, for those headed to other nearby destinations, these alternative airports might actually be closer to their final destination.
This search engine was recently purchased by cheapflights.com and is expected to become their flagship website. This site includes a scale that shows the low fares for each day of the month in a chart.
Before Momondo, Skyscanner was my go-to website for low fares across Europe. It has not disappointed me. On balance, I still find it the easiest to use and their app interface works brilliantly. However, a lot of my comments are based on my familiarity with the site interface.
I don’t find the interface of travelfusion.com as elegant as either Skyscanner.com or Momondo.com. Plus, I haven’t found an app for this site. Hence, it is not always in my tool kit, so to speak, while on the road.
The big difference with this site is that it allows travelers to blend air and rail travel in one site. For instance, travelfusion will tell you the Easy Jet flight from Rome to Venice will cost $76 while the train will cost $122. These kinds of easy comparisons make planning trips much easier.