Online Travel Agencies Flight Booking
Online Travel Agencies (OTAs), also known as booking platforms, make it incredibly easy for travelers to search for and book travel arrangements—everything from flights and accommodations to car rentals can be booked in just a few clicks. All types of travelers will find what they’re looking for online, whether that’s comprehensive booking capabilities with mega-sized inventory, hotels and experiences with a social impact component, or just the most affordable route to a destination. Our roundup of best OTAs below will help you determine the most ideal way for you to book your next trip so that all you have left to do is the fun part: packing!
Best Overall: Booking.com
Best Budget: Skyscanner
Best Price Predictor: Hopper
Most Innovative: Kiwi.com
Best for Best Eco-Conscious: Kind Traveler
Best for Social Impact: I Like Local
Best for Design-Forward Homestays: Plum Guide
Why We Chose It
This industry leader offers one of the most comprehensive trip planning platforms on the Internet.
Lots of options to choose from
Interface is easy to use
Numerous filters to customize your search
Tricky to tell whether changes/cancellations can be made with Booking.com or the vendor directly
Booking.com was founded in 1996 and has grown into an industry leader that stands out for being one of the most comprehensive trip planning platforms out there. From one website, you can compare and book accommodations, flights (including one-way and multi-city flights), tour activities, and even airport taxis. The website lists more than 28 million accommodation options, from hotels, hostels, and B&Bs to vacation homes and luxury resorts—you can browse more choices per destination on Booking.com than other OTAs. The website also performs well on cost and typically returns lower-than-average prices for flights and hotels.
The website’s interface is also easy to use. On the home page, search for a hotel by entering your chosen destination and dates. Then, use the extensive list of filters—such as price range and distance from the city center—to narrow the results down and find the best fit. You can also search for a specific hotel, or seek inspiration by clicking through options grouped by destination or property type or by topic such as the country’s best Michelin-starred hotel restaurants or the top cities for vegan travelers. The flights, car rental, and other tabs are just as intuitive.
Why We Choose It
You can compare prices across airlines, hotels, and car rentals.
As a third party website, extra clicks are required to make a final purchase
Must read fine print for changes/cancellations—may need to deal directly with the vendor instead of Skyscanner.com
Ads on the sidebar can be distracting
Find deals on airfare, hotels, and car rentals with an aggregator site like Skyscanner, which uses a metasearch engine to compare prices from all OTAs and the airline, hotel, or car rental company in question. Run searches with fixed dates, opt to compare airfare prices month to month, or click “Cheapest Month.” Searches also include options for nearby airports or non-stop flights only. With hotel searches, you can choose to select only from properties with free cancellation, a cleanliness rating of 4.5/5 or higher, or 3- or 4-starred hotels only. Car rental searches include an option to select “return car to different location.”
Once you’ve found the best rate, click on the link to be redirected to the third-party site to make your booking. Feeling spontaneous? The Search Everywhere button on the homepage offers a list of the cheapest flight deals for destinations both locally and across the world—just plug in your departure airport first.
The company claims a 95 percent accuracy rate at predicting when flights and hotel rates will be cheapest.
Color-coded system makes it easy to determine cheapest days to buy
Option to track flights and receive alerts when the best time to buy arises
Some have mentioned the app functions better as a research tool (you can also book within the app)
Unclear whether Hopper will price match if you find a cheaper flight elsewhere
Hopper is a travel app available on iOS and Android that aims to help travelers save on airfare by utilizing historical data and their own algorithm to predict when flights would be cheapest. Just type in where and when you’d like to fly and Hopper will present you with a color-coded pricing calendar indicating how much tickets are likely to cost. (Green is the least expensive, then yellow, orange, and red for most expensive.) It will also recommend you either buy now or wait. Choose also to watch a trip and receive notifications on the best time to buy. In addition, the app has expanded to offer hotel and car rental price predictions, too.
Some newer features since the app’s inception in 2009 include an option to “freeze” a price for a limited time, for an extra fee, as well as exclusive app-only discounts. Hopper is free to download, and you can choose to book directly through the app, though some users mentioned they use Hopper as more of a research tool before booking directly with the airline or hotel. The company claims a 95 percent accuracy rate at predicting flight rates up to a year ahead.
This metasearch engine scours the web to piece together the ideal itinerary using planes, trains, buses, and more.
Creative itineraries get you where you need to go, especially if you’ve got a multi-stop trip
Kiwi Guarantee offers rebooking or cancellation protections
Nomad option appeals to travelers with a lot of flexibility
Creative itineraries mean you may not fly out of the same airport you flew into
Kiwi Guarantee has an additional fee
Charges all-in-one fee for booking flights, trains, buses (though you can always purchase a la carte)
Travelers planning multi-city destinations and seeking a bargain, as well as those looking to take planes, trains, and automobiles to get there, might consider Kiwi. Kiwi is a metasearch engine that scours and pieces together itineraries from various airlines (even if they don’t have a codeshare agreement), considers multiple airports (even if your arrival airport is different from departure), and offers booking options, whether you’re looking at very specific dates or more general ones (up to 60 nights).
Some will find the ability to make multiple bookings for a particular trip more convenient than going at it manually several different times, though note that you must opt into the Kiwi guarantee program to access rebooking and refund protections should your reservation change or be canceled for whatever reason. Kiwi’s Nomad option allows you to plug in a bunch of destinations you’d like to visit and length of intended stay, and the website will churn out the most affordable itineraries for review.
A give-and-get business model means booking accommodations with exclusive perks, a donation to environmental organizations, and more.
All participating hotels include a local give-back component
Exclusive savings and perks
Participating hotels are located in some of the most beautiful places in the world
Inventory is still much smaller compared to other booking platforms
Some of the amenities mentioned are based on availability only
In 2022, Kind Traveler (an OTA focused on hotel bookings) announced an increase in environmentally- and socially- conscious hotels, charity donations, voluntourism opportunities, and additional perks like waived resort fees or a welcome amenity.
Unlock exclusive hotel rates and perks from participating Kind Traveler hotels with a minimum $10/night minimum donation to a local charity. For example, stay at the Six Senses Laamu in the Maldives and receive up to $33 off the nightly rate and perks such as a food and beverage credit and an Earth Lab or Alchemy Bar workshop when you make a donation to Manta Trust. The organization funds coastal research to protect the island nation’s large yet fragile population of reef mantas.
Select from more than 140 participating hotels from the Hawaiian Islands to Bozeman, Montana, and the Maldives. Charities include wildlife, human rights, arts, education, and environmental preservation organizations.
Best for Social Impact
Browse and book seriously vetted, design-forward vacation homes.
Highly curated inventory of vacation rentals across the world
Thorough vetting process
Does not publish guest reviews
Other platforms have homes available across more destinations
When it comes to booking a vacation home, serviced apartment, or condo, travelers are spoiled for choice. That said, Plum Guide is an OTA that specializes in accommodations—though not just any home makes its directory. The company claims that each potential home listed on its site must jump through 150 points to be included, such as internet speed and mattress and pillow quality, to the showers’ water pressure and the home’s proximity to dining, shopping, and attractions.
Search by a featured collection on the website such as “pet-friendly homes” or “one-of-a-kind homes in Palm Springs.” Scroll to the bottom of its homepage to view its top destinations, as well as a list of all destinations where Plum Guide homes are available, including Barbados, Mexico, Portugal, Switzerland, the U.S., and Turkey. Note: From the top right-hand corner of the site, use the dropdown menu to select currency of choice.