Do we need to wait for Flight Search?
Google could do it better, but its money-saving Flight Search service will be the fourth, not the first, of its kind here. We check how competent the existing three are.
Google’s plan to launch Flight Search in India is reportedly causing panic among online travel agents (OTAs) such as Yatra and Expedia ‘who fear their business model is under threat’. What Flight Search will do is search for the best rates and, whenever possible, take you directly to the website of the airline you’ve selected to fly on, removing the travel agents and their convenience charges from the equation. In retaliation, the OTAs are considering a complaint to the Competition Commission of India over the likelihood of discrimination by Google when it comes to search results for queries relating to online travel. Now, given how smoothly Flight Search works, you would hope nothing comes in the way of its launch, but in the meantime, you don’t need to rely completely on OTAs. There are already three websites – iXiGo, Kayak and Sky Scanner – offering the same service as Flight Search. We check to see how efficient they are at saving you time and money when booking a flight.
Book direct on (domestic): Air India, Go Air, Jet Airways, Jet Konnect, Spice Jet
Book direct on (international): Qatar Airways, Cathay Pacific, Lufthansa
Also searches: Expedia, Via, Goibibo, MakeMyTrip, Ezeego and Cleatrip
If you search for domestic flights on iXiGo, you’re saving time by simultaneously searching for the best rates from four OTAs and five official airline websites. It doesn’t have a tie-up with Indigo, which means that if it’s one of their flights you wish to book, you’ll only be offered the option of going to an OTA to make the booking, but with all other airlines, you are usually also offered the option of going to the official website. It is searching many websites, so expect a lot of search results, but you also have the option of filtering your search by airline, time of flight, stops and price, which makes finding the right flights easier. If you want to cross check the prices you’ve seen with results from individual OTAs, you can also do so at the press of just one button.
Pros: Provides real-time data from several websites very quickly, lets you verify the search on other OTAs, allows you book domestic and international
Cons: Occasionally, it ignores the airline’s official website, in favour of an OTA
Book direct on (domestic): Air India, Jet Airways, Jet Konnect, Indigo
Book direct on (international): Qatar Airways, Lufthansa, Emirates, British Airways, Turkish Airlines, among many others
Also searches: Expedia
It’s a major brand in the US for doing exactly the same thing as Flight Search, but perhaps needs more time in India. It simply doesn’t work as a money-saving option for domestic flights right now because it excludes two of four Indian budget carriers – GoAir and SpiceJet. Furthermore, it doesn’t search any OTA other than Expedia, which may not always offer the best fares. However, for international bookings, it is a decent option. It allows you to go to many international airlines’ websites, including Emirates, Oman Air, Qatar Airways and Lufthansa.
Pros: Tie-ups with many international airlines
Cons: Excludes GoAir and SpiceJet completely, only searches Expedia
Book direct on (domestic): Go Air, Jet Airways, Jet Konnect, Spice Jet
Book direct on (international): British Airways, Emirates, Lufthansa, Virgin Airlines, Sri Lankan Airlines, among many others
Also searches: Expedia, Goibibo, MakeMyTrip, Ebookers, and 10 others
Sky Scanner only doesn’t let you book on the websites of Air India and Indigo. It will, however, take you directly to the booking page of the other Indian airlines with your flight preference and timings selected. It searches 14 OTAs at once – you may also run these searches separately, if you wish to cross-check their results. In addition to this, Sky Scanner lets you open the same search on different airlines’ individual windows, including the Indian pages of 16 foreign airlines, where you can pay in rupees.
Pros: Presents a lot of data without being confusing, lets you conduct the same search on the page of various OTAs and airlines instantly
Cons: Doesn’t let you book on Air India or Indigo directly