Kayak is one of the most popular websites to help you find great travel deals. However, it is not an online travel agency (OTA)—it is a search engine for travel deals. It shows you the flight prices from other websites and may send you there to complete your flight booking—even though it may look like you’re booking your flight on Kayak.
Kayak acts as your travel planner and offers useful tools such as Kayak Trips, Guides, and Flight Tracker. It also allows you to research and organize your trips in one place. This page offers you simple tips and tricks to help you find the best deals on Kayak.
Recommended Flights and Popular Destinations
A screenshot of Kayak’s homepage
Kayak’s homepage displays, among other things, Kayak Deals and popular Destinations you can travel to now based on where you’re searching from when you begin your search. If you have a specific itinerary in mind, these sections may not be of much help to you because they relate to specific routes and dates. However, they do offer some great money-saving deals—many of them for flights just 2 weeks away.
How to Search for Flights on Kayak
To begin your flight search on Kayak, enter your departure city, arrival city, and dates, and click on the Search button. On the next page (the main booking page), you will be shown a list of available flights—with a ton of information.
The search results will automatically sort by Recommended. However, you can adjust the setting to sort the results by:
(based on duration, price, number of stops, and carrier type)
- Least CO₂ emissions
- Earliest take-off
- Latest take-off
- Earliest landing
- Latest landing
Use the drop-down menu on the right side to sort the results by any of the above-mentioned parameters.
Fee Assistant is a useful, time-saving feature that allows you to add the baggage fees to your flight cost, as they vary by airline. This allows you to compare the cost of your flight (along with baggage fees) without having to visit each airline’s website individually.
You will see a large featured flight box appearing below Fee Assistant. Remember, this is a sponsored ad, which means that the airline paid money to appear there. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but you should know that it appears there not because Kayak thinks it’s a great deal but because the OTA paid money to be there.
After you click on the Search button, the Our Advice box will appear toward the top left section of your screen. This small box displays Kayak’s estimate of how (or whether) the prices might change during the 7 days. This helps you take a call on whether you should buy your ticket immediately or wait until later. Remember, this is only an estimation, so you must take it with a pinch of salt.
If you want to create a price alert for your flight, shift the Track Prices slider to the on position. As soon as you do this, a pop-up will appear on your screen and prompt you to enter your email address, after which your account will be automatically set up with Kayak.
Kayak allows you to select your booking preferences and filter your results in many ways. You can refine your flight search results by using the different parameters appearing on the left side of your screen, such as:
(non-stop, 1-stop, 2+ stops)
- Flexible Options
(no change fees)
(oneworld, SkyTeam, Star Alliance)
- Layover airports
- Flight quality
(type and model)
- Booking sites
Compare (sites) vs. Kayak
The Compare vs. Kayak box appears on the right side of your screen. You can use the box to compare the Kayak search results with other OTAs and websites. Clicking on the Compare All button will take you to your chosen website and search for your itinerary automatically.
How to Search for Flights and Complete Your Booking
The middle section of your screen shows you the list of available flights for your route. To learn about your flight and complete your booking, click on the View Deal button.
After you click on the View Deal button, depending on your route you will be taken to any of the following to complete your purchase:
- On the airline’s website.
- On another online travel agent’s (OTA) website, such as Priceline, Orbitz, Expedia, etc.
- On Kayak’s flight booking tool.
For some flights (not all), you will be shown multiple booking options, starting with the lowest price. If you want to explore other flight options for your flight, just click on the down arrow appearing next to the View Deal button. You will be shown a drop-down box with the prices appearing on different websites.
To book your ticket:
- Select the cheapest flight option
- Click on the View Deal button appearing against it
- Review your Trip summary
- Enter the Passenger and Payment details
(do read the
- Hit the Book button to complete your purchase
- Follow the on-screen prompts to purchase your ticket and pay.
- After you make your payment:
- You will receive an Order Confirmation mail at the email address provided by you—either directly from Kayak or its third-party customer service provider.
Note. The Order Confirmation email contains your passenger details, itinerary details, and the summary of charges paid by you. It is not an electronic ticket, meaning you cannot board your flight with it—it merely serves as proof that you have booked your order with Kayak.
- You will receive a separate email with your e-ticket receipt.
If Kayak finds a good flight deal on a round-trip, such as by bundling tickets on different airlines, you will be shown a Hacker Fare under the price of your flight. If you’re looking for a good deal, you should explore this option.
Remember, Hacker Fares do not represent a round trip but comprise a bunch of 2 one-way tickets, which can mean using two different airports. The only downside to Hacker Fares is that they offer less protection and leverage in case something goes wrong.
For example, if you need to cancel an outbound flight due to poor weather, you’d have better chances of getting a refund for your return flight with the same airline. But if you book a Hacker Fare (with 2 different airlines), you may not be able to get a refund for your return flight as it would be a standalone flight for the other airline. Although the chances of such situations are rare, it’s something you should be aware of.
How to Search for Flights by Destination
To search for flights by destination, scroll down to the lower section of the homepage, which lists flights to popular cities. To search for such flights, click on where it says Flights under the city name.
You’ll be shown a list of flight deals from your home city to different destinations. Remember, these deals are date-specific, so if you’re flexible with your travel dates, this option can work very cost-effectively for you.
Kayak’s Explore button appears in the top menu’s dropdown list. To access this feature, click on the hamburger menu item on the top left, scroll down, and select the Explore option.
After you click on the Explore button, you’ll be taken to a page (see the screenshot below) that allows you to select your home city, destination, date range, price range, and flight duration. Once you select your desired parameters, you’ll be able to see where all you can fly within your preferred parameters. This is a great way to choose your destination if you know when you want to travel but aren’t sure where you might want to travel to.
Hovering over the price box on the map will show you the name of the arrival city. After you’ve shortlisted your destination, click on the city name and then on Check Flights to select your flight(s) and complete your booking.
Kayak Explore also allows you to search for themed trips, such as Family Friendly Cities, Hiking Hot Spots, UNESCO Sites, Amazing Beaches, etc. After you choose your home city airport, travel dates, price range, and travel time, select a travel theme from the right side of your screen. Now you will be able to select only those destinations that match your chosen theme.
How to Search with Flexible Dates
You can save a few big bucks if your travel plans are flexible and you can adjust them by a day or two. This tool allows you to view the flight options for your selected travel dates within an up to 3-day range (plus and minus), which is a super-convenient way to save money if your travel plans are flexible.
To choose the flexible date feature, click on the calendar dropdown box (as shown above). You also have the option to search by Flexible Weekend or Flexible Month. Now when you search, you’ll only be shown the cheapest flight dates (within the pre-selected date range) to fly to the destination city you selected.
Tip. Searching with flexible dates will show you the best available options for your trip.
Kayak Trip Builder
The Kayak Trip Builder is a great tool for planning multi-city itineraries if you’re not where to start. It calculates the cheapest route between different cities by allowing you to customize your trip within your budget, with ground transportation included. To book a multi-city trip with Trip Builder, follow the steps below:
- Go to Kayak.com
- Change the dropdown search menu from Round-trip to Trip Builder
- Go through the popular multi-city trip templates or create your own
- Choose your origin city plus all the cities you want to visit, incl. how long you want to stay in each city
Tip. If your travel plans are flexible, include a date range for additional savings
- The Trip Builder will calculate the cheapest route for you
- Select and book your trip
About Booking via Kayak
When booking a flight through Kayak, it may appear on occasion that you’re booking your flight through Kayak. However, you’re using Kayak’s user interface—the actual booking is likely through an online travel agency (OTA) such as Priceline, Travelocity, MyFlightMart, etc. It is important to know this, because if you run into any problems after purchasing your ticket, you will need to contact the OTA directly, and not Kayak—even if you didn’t directly visit the website at the time of booking.
How to Find the Best Times to Travel
If you’re looking for the most inexpensive time to travel, visit Kayak’s Packages. Click on the hamburger icon on the top left part of the screen and select the Packages option.
You’ll see a section titled Search vacation deals by destination in the lower part of your screen. Clicking on a city will show you the price trends around the year.
Knowing the estimated price of a vacation package for each month will allow you to choose the most cost-effective option available. Remember, these are price estimates, so the actual prices may vary.
Kayak Guides are a great way to plan for your trip. You can access them by clicking on the menu bar appearing on top of your screen. After clicking on it, enter your travel destination (on top) or search by region, popularity, or top 10 destinations.
Each travel guide provides general information about the city/region, along with suggestions on (and often interactive links to) the top things to do there, top activities and attractions, when to visit, how to get there, where to stay, how to get around, where to eat, the cheapest and most expensive times to visit, average temperature, etc.
Tip. Kayak Guides are a one-stop resource for planning every aspect of your trip—totally free of charge.
Kayak Trips allow you to save all your trips and itineraries in one place. You can access this section from the top right corner of your screen, as shown above. Kayak Trips allow you to:
- Manually add your trips.
- Import booking receipt emails by connecting your email inbox.
- Forward your flight booking emails to email@example.com.
After you add your flights, you’ll be able to view real-time updates, such as check-in, flight status, and gate information, as well as access your itinerary offline.
Tip. Use the Share button to share your trip details with your group, as well as allow others to edit your trip information via this button.
You can access the Deals page from the menu on the top left side with a hamburger icon. The Deals page offers pre-packaged deals on vacation packages, flights, hotels, cruises, etc. You can explore this section for a range of money-saving options to suit your budget.
Most people think of Kayak as an online travelling agency (OTA) like Orbitz or Expedia. However, Kayak is a one-stop search engine for travel planning, organizing, and booking. It’s a great tool for comparing the prices of different OTAs, along with hotel and airline websites. It allows you to explore the best price options on a single website without having to visit each website separately.