There are dozens of flight booking websites to choose from, but our survey of thousands of people who used the sites found they were largely disappointed. We asked users about everything, from whether there were hidden fees on top of headline prices to how good customer service was.
We also carried out snapshot research into airfares, to find out which comparison website reliably found the cheapest flights. These sites often promise to save you money, but many offer poor customer service or charge over the odds for extras such as luggage. Many holidaymakers are also still reeling with how their booking site dealt with cancelled bookings and refund payments during the pandemic.
The reviews below cover online travel agents that sell flights. See our table of hotel booking websites if you’re after accommodation. Or check our reviews of travel comparison sites to find the best prices on travel, accommodation and package holidays.
Flight booking sites rated
The table below reveals how four of the most popular flight booking websites compare in aspects such as customer service, website functionality and price.For more unbiased reviews and independent advice, find out more about Which? Travel.
Flight booking site reviews
This year’s survey results reveal that Expedia is the best website for booking flights and also the most used. However, the company did not score highly enough to be considered for Which? Recommended Provider (WRP) status.
Read our reviews of the best and worst flight booking sites below.
Expedia: best flight booking website
It may be the top-rated booking site for flights, but that’s not saying much when the competition includes Opodo (30%) and Lastminute.com (39%).
Expedia faced complaints over refunds during the pandemic, and its three-star rating for customer service reflects the fact that many people were left underwhelmed.
Expedia’s website is slick, but it’s a case of style over substance, if our price spot checks are anything to go by. It wasn’t able to find the cheapest price for any of the 11 flights we checked and was the most expensive option for seven of them.
Which? verdict: Worth considering if the price is right, but our check suggests that’s rare.
Opodo: worst flight booking site
Opodo, at the bottom of the table, didn’t even offer any bargains. It failed to find the lowest airfare on any of the 11 routes we searched.
Several Opodo customers also complained about the difficulty of obtaining refunds they were owed – or even getting through to speak to someone who works there. One summed it up by saying: ‘Lack of communication and poor access to support when things go wrong.’
Which? verdict: Nothing to recommend it. Avoid.
Cheapest flight booking sites
While we didn’t discover one site that always has the cheapest flights, we did find shopping around does pay. For instance, the cheapest last-minute return flight from Edinburgh to Budapest that Skyscanner could find was £218. Expedia’s best offer for the same route on the same dates was a whopping £828.
Flight refunds and cancellations
On the face of it, flight refunds are fairly straightforward – if your airline is based in the UK or EU, or you’re flying from a UK or EU airport, the airline must offer to fully refund you within seven days if it cancels your flight. This is because your flight is protected by the Denied Boarding Regulation.
If you booked flights directly with the airline then it is responsible for processing this refund. But if you booked through a third-party booking site, such as the ones featured in our table above, then the refund process becomes more complicated, because the booking site will want to contact the airline on your behalf and then pass any refund on to you when they get it.
However, we saw some airlines illegally refusing refunds during the pandemic and booking going completely Awol, with many customers reporting difficulties in contacting some sites. To add insult to injury, Lastminute.com and Gotogate even started charging customers admin fees to process refunds.
The surest way of getting a refund if your flight is cancelled is by booking direct with the airline and paying on credit card. That way, if the airline refuses a legitimate refund request, you can claim your money back from your credit card provider using Section 75. But remember that you’re only entitled to a refund if the airline cancels the flight. That’s why it’s always safer to book flights as part of a package holiday.
How we research flight booking sites: In October 2022, we asked 3,169 Which? members to tell us about their experiences of researching holidays online in the past two years. We only reported on companies and star rating categories when we received at least 30 responses. We also compared rates for 11 flight routes and 10 hotels on major OTAs and comparison sites.You can have your say on what we research and help us achieve change by joining Which? Connect.