As someone who is always on the go, I do everything I can to save money on flights. This used to mean spending lots of time price checking and comparison shopping on various travel sites. But today, a number of apps can help travelers score a good deal on a flight.
Note: This article is also available as an image gallery and a video hosted by TechRepublic columnist Tom Merritt.
Yapta (Figure A) is a basic but useful app for saving money on airfare. The idea behind Yapta is simple. You enter the details for the flights that you want to take, as well as the current price for each flight. Yapta then watches the price for you and lets you know when the price changes.
The Yapta app is free but is available only for iOS.
AirfareWatchdog (Figure B) can also help you get a good price on a flight. When you enter your destination and travel dates, it compares several of the more popular travel sites so that you can see who has the best price.
This app has another feature that really makes it useful: It will show you the best current fares out of your home airport. Suppose that you know you're eventually going to need a flight to Albuquerque. You might not be actively looking for a ticket yet, but if there's a huge sale on tickets you'd probably want to know about it—and that is exactly what this feature does.
The AirfareWatchdog app is available for free on iOS.
You've probably seen commercials for Kayak (Figure C). And those commercials always seem to mention that Kayak checks various travel websites for the best prices on flights and hotels so that you don't have to manually comparison shop. The Kayak app can certainly help you find flight and hotel prices, but there is more to it than that.
It also features a flight tracker you can use to see whether your flight is on time, obtain contact information for the airlines, and get airport information. A My Trips section lets you manage multiple trips. More important, the Kayak app can track airfare and alert you when the ticket price changes.
The free Kayak app is available on iOS, Android, Windows, and Amazon Kindle Fire.
Skyscanner (Figure D) lets you track flight prices and make a reservation when you are ready—and while those capabilities are obviously useful, I chose to include SkysScanner here because it offers another really great feature.
A lot of times your travel date can have a major impact on the ticket price. For example, I recently booked a flight to Australia and was able to save a couple of thousand dollars by traveling two days earlier than I had originally planned. Yes, I know that some of that savings will be offset by hotel costs and other expenses. But the point is that when you travel matters. Skyscanner checks prices for several days before and after your intended travel date. That way, you can see whether adjusting your travel dates will save any money.
The free Skyscanner app is available for iOS, Android, and Windows Phone.
Hopper (Figure E) is a free iOS app with a specialized goal: It keeps an eye on flight prices for you and predicts the best time to book your flight.
There are three things that I really like about this app. First, it shows you the cheapest days to travel. Second, the interface is really simple to use. Unlike some travel apps, it doesn't really have a learning curve. Third, this app will tell you straight up whether you should book now or wait to book. Some travel apps will show you the price change but don't provide any recommendations for the best time to book. This one is different. It makes a definitive recommendation.
- Five great apps for surviving business travel
- Overcome the language barrier with these five free translation apps
- Five free apps to help you feel at home in an unfamiliar city
What airfare apps do you like?
Share your favorites with fellow TechRepublic members.