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How to Use Skyscanner to Find Cheap Flights Guide

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    Jonathan Chum

What is Skyscanner?

Skyscanner is a metasearch engine that crawls, scrapes, and scans the internet for prices on flights, hotels, and care rentals across thousands of online travel agencies and airlines.

Many other online travel agencies hooks into airlines to build their unique flavor or sauce for searching for a cheap flight.

Skyscanner shines by incorporating its metasearch on top of these agencies technologies.

What Skyscanner is good at:

  • Search on a budget: For wanderlusts, the "Everywhere" feature in Skyscanner makes it a great tool for discovering places to go and remain in your budget.
  • Flexible date searches: Know where you want to go, but have room for flexibility on the dates? Skyscanner shines by allowing you search fares and return the cheapest month based on your departure and destination.
  • Search last minute fares: Skyscanner's technology makes it simple for find those last minute fare deals
  • Search small, not so known OTAs: The online travel agencies it crawls for fare deals from are not so well known. It's supposedly has been carefully vetted by them and generally not available on other meta fare deal search sites.
  • Price alerts: Not ready to pull the trigger on fare? It's easy to set a price alert.
  • Complimentary app: Available on both iOS and Android, Skyscanner apps is one of the more popular apps that are easy to use.

What Skyscanner is bad at:

  • Monthly calendar pricing stale often stale: The price data aren't real time nor are they are updated as frequently. Because the scale of which the travel industry operates and updates prices at, Skyscanner is often time rely on freshness on price based on the popularity of the route. This means the route less traveled will often have incorrect pricing.
  • Price fare ghosting: This term known in the travel industry as "ghosting" occurs when a price you plan to book at is not available on the airline's website. This occurs because the price data is stale between the time the price was discovered by Skyscanner and the time when the user is about to book on the airline's website. This generally will occur more often than not.
  • Stale data often results in not the cheapest fare: Being the king of meta search is hard when expectations is that the price is accurate. Often times, the difference is significant that you may often find a cheaper price on its competitor such as Momondo.
  • Smaller OTAs while vetted, few bookings have horror stories: There's been horror stories of tickets not being issued by the smaller OTAs. Do your homework and make sure to research the OTA if you have not heard of them before.

Skyscanner Tutorial

How to search for a flight on Skyscanner

When looking for the cheapest flight, you want to cast as a wide of search parameters as you can.

For example, if you were looking for a flight from San Francisco to Paris, make sure to check the "Add nearby airports" and/or leave the fields as "(Any)"


Viewing results on Skyscanner

Give it a bit of time for Skyscanner to check each of the providers in real-time, updating the list, and sorting based on "Best" fares.

Best fares is a balance of price and time in the air.

If you are looking for the cheapest fare, then change the sort by option and select "Cheapest first".

Here, we see the best fare that Skyscanner came back with is $696 with an average travel time of 14 hours 30 mins.

But if you want to save another $100 dollars, the average travel time jumps to 32 hours and 17 minutes.

Setting price alerts on Skyscanner

To have Skyscanner start monitoring when the price changes, hit the bell icon where it reads, "Get Price Alerts"

If you aren't logged in, you will need to use Google, Facebook or Email to sign up.

Once the price alert is added, you can always go back to see the alerts that have been setup by clicking on "Account" in the top right corner.

Then selecting "Price Alerts" from the menu.

How to set flexible dates on Skyscanner

One of the easiest way to find the cheapest deal for a destination is to change the depart date and click the "Cheapest month" button.

Here we found a few solid deals in October 2020. Mindful, the prices on Skyscanner shows the cost of a single one way ticket. So you need to choose both a depart and return date to get the full price.

As we many meta search engine sites, the calendar view will show the "cheapest" fare, and not necessary the "best".

In my case, I found a fare from San Francisco to Paris in October for 283,butwouldaddanadditional12hourseachwaytosave283, but would add an additional 12 hours each way to save 122.

In some cases, the "cheapest" flight with a long layover could turn into a stop over. You could pack a carry on enough for a one day to explore a new city or two.

How to use the Explore Map and “Search Everywhere functions on Skyscanner

If you are undecided where to fly, one of the really amazing feature is the search "Everywhere" as your destination.

Then it will lists by country those cheapest fares it found.

Let's assume I'm looking for a cheap flight to Costa Rica. Just tap the arrow on Costa Rica to expand the fares.

Then click the "from $207" to see the fares.

It will open the month view again so you decide on the dates.

Click the "Show Flights" button after you select your dates.

By default it will show the "Best" fares which for me, is about 10hours of flight time. I then will compare it against the "Cheapest" fares and see that I can get the cheapest fare of $207 for about 5-6 hours each way.

This extra savings could get you another night or two at a hotel.

How to filter results on Skyscanner

On the left hand rail, you can change the outbound and return times or limit your trip duration.

There's many facets that you can choose to change the results to your likeing.

How to book a flight with Skyscanner

Once you discovered a flight you want to book, click the "Select" button and Skyscanner will redirect you to the OTA or airline to book the ticket.

If you are not sure who the travel agent is, make sure to research before booking. The last thing you want is book a flight, arrive at the airport, and realize you don't have tickets for.

Also, because Skyscanner is not a real-time search, make sure to note the fare before you leave Skyscanner and compare it with after.

In this case, Vayama sold out and now offered the next best fare at $241, but back to the average flight time of 10 hours instead of the 5-6 hours additional.

Skyscanner FAQs

Can I choose seats on Skyscanner?

Seat selection maybe available via the OTA or airline's website at the time of booking. Some seat selections may incur extra fees.

What if I need to cancel a flight booked on Skyscanner?

Depending on the class of booking, airline policies, and/or online travel agent whom you booked with, make sure you read their policies. Any changes or cancellations may not be applicable to the airline policy if you booked through a travel agent.

Is the Skyscanner app free?


How do I know if the OTA is dependable?‍

Skyscanner's reputation is based on quality OTAs. And they all go through a vigorous vetting process.

However, every now and then, one will slip through the cracks and get listed.

Overall, it's safe to use. But do your homework and make sure if you are booking a flight through a not well known travel agent, take 30 minutes additional to research the OTAs and their change/cancellation policies.