The Different Types of Flight Search

The Different Types of Flight Search: A blog around flight search engines and sites along with explanation of the differences.

If you type in “flights” into google, your first page of results will be dominated by a large number of flight search companies. If you are like me and want to buy a cheap flight but do not have time or expertise to find that flight, these websites are a lifesaver! However, it is easy to get confused between the different types of sites and their business models – when I started researching for my Master’s thesis on this topic, I was lost among the jargon such as OTA’s (Online Travel Agents), GDS’s (Global Distribution Systems) and Ooh-Tah’s (Online Travel Agencies). In this blog I will explain the different types of flight search companies, how they make money and what the main differences are between them.

Flight Search Engines (aka Meta Search Engines)

These companies provide an overview over all available flights from airlines and online travel agents from one location and then redirect users if they want to book a flight to another site. They usually make money by charging for these redirection clicks. An example would be Kayak or Skyscanner. These search engines do not actually sell flights

The Different Types of Flight Search

It’s a fact that not all flight search engines and sites are created equal. There are some distinct differences in the way different flight search sites work and what their primary focus is. Some search engines specialize in specific types of flights, such as international flights or low-cost airlines, while others search every airline and every type of flight available. It’s important to understand these differences so you know which site is best for you when you’re looking for cheap airfare. Here are the types of flight search engines and sites out there:

General Flight Search Engines

These search engines will scan through all major airlines and any low-cost airlines that allow their flights to be searched on travel websites. They also include all different types of flights, including regular coach flights and first class flights. This means that these engines will return more results than any other type of engine and they’re a great place to start if you don’t have a preference about what type of flight you want.

Major Airline-Specific Sites

Some major airlines have their own websites that let you book directly through them rather than through a third party like Expedia or Travelocity. These sites are good options if you know exactly where and when you want to fly. They

There are so many different types of flight search engines and websites out there that it can be hard to know which one to use. So, here is a quick blog post explaining all the different types of services and how they work!

What we mean when we talk about ‘flight search’

If you have ever searched for a plane ticket online you will know that there are a lot of confusing acronyms and jargon used, so let me explain what I mean by each of these:

Flight Search Engine or Flight Meta Search Engine – these are websites where you can search for flights from different airlines either in one place or across multiple websites. They have no airline affiliation and do not sell tickets directly. Examples of this include Skyscanner, Kayak & Google Flights.

Online Travel Agents (OTA) – these are usually one-stop shops for all your travel needs. They can sell flights and hotels as well as package holidays and car hire. They work with airlines to get special deals and pricing, but also allow you to book directly with the airline if you choose. Examples of this would be Expedia and Opodo.

Airline Direct Sites – these are the websites that belong to each individual airline where you can book flights directly with them without

I’ve been working in online travel for a little over two years. During that time I’ve worked on hotel search and flight search. After a flight search redesign project with a key client, I realized that there are many different types of flight search engines. The aim of this blog is to help you know the differences and make better decisions when you are searching for flights.

The first type of flight search engine is one which allows you to compare flights from many different airlines. The following websites offer you this comparison: Kayak, Expedia, Orbitz, Travelocity, Skyscanner and Hipmunk (we are biased here). The advantage to these sites is that you can compare prices across many airlines at once. You can also find the cheapest day of the week to fly based on historical data. This will save you time and narrow down your results quickly so you can focus on picking a flight that is convenient for your needs.

The second type of flight search engine is one which only searches their own airline or a small number of partner airlines. This means that many times if you want to book with them, they will be cheaper than other options because they don’t have to share their profit with partners like Expedia or Orbitz. For

Flight search is a big topic and has many different facets that are worth exploring. In this blog I will describe some of the key types of flight search and explain their different use cases.

Flight Search Engines

The biggest flight search engines (Expedia, Kayak, Momondo, Skyscanner etc.) all do something similar; they search across many different airlines and online travel agencies (OTAs) to return the cheapest flights for a given route for any given date or dates. These websites usually get their data from a global distribution system (GDS) which represents the primary source of airline inventory in the world today. Many OTAs license this data directly from the GDS, but others have created their own private GDSs where they aggregate inventory from other sources such as other travel sites and airline websites. The GDS is used by travel agents and airlines alike to book tickets, while OTAs use it to get their availability information (and sometimes even make bookings).

Some of these flight search engines call themselves metasearch engines because they pull results from multiple OTAs and airlines at once. However some of the biggest flight search engines like Expedia don’t actually do this at all – they have created agreements with individual airlines to display their flight availability on

There are many different types of flight search engines and sites, but which is the right one to use?

The Internet is full of information and a lot of it is confusing.

To some extent, this can be attributed to the way in which the airline industry works, which is very complex. It’s hard to understand how it all fits together.

In addition to that, we’re bombarded with advertisements that don’t tell us how things work. The result is that people search for flights using Google or other search engines and end up on websites that they don’t really understand.

This post will give you a quick overview on the differences between the various types of flight search engines and sites in order to help you make an informed decision about which ones are best for you.

We’ll start with the most common type: Airlines’ websites

Airlines’ websites are where you find all the information about a specific airline company. They sell their own flights directly. You can only buy flights from them if you visit their website or call them by phone.


You have access to all the flights from your preferred airline company in one place (if they sell online)

You can get direct access to additional services such as seat selection, special meals

What is a flight search engine?

A flight search engine will let you compare flights from different airlines and travel websites, allowing you to find the best, cheapest deal for your trip. So instead of visiting each airline website separately, you can enter your trip details just once and have all of the results shown at once. Flight search engines also allow you to filter by price, departure time and duration, so you can find exactly what you’re looking for.

What is a flight aggregator?

Flight aggregators are similar to flight search engines in that they let you compare prices across multiple airlines. However, they do not sell tickets directly. Instead, they redirect you to another website that does sell tickets.

The difference between a flight search engine and a flight aggregator depends on who sells the tickets. If the site sells tickets directly, it’s a flight search engine; if it redirects you to another site to purchase them, it’s a flight aggregator. Sometimes there is no difference between the two: if an aggregator finds a good deal on one of its partner sites, it may redirect you there without charging anything extra (although this doesn’t happen very often).

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