Skyscanner is not a travel agent but rather a global search engine that allows for the easy and convenient comparison of different flights. The service is free to use and makes it very easy for you to quickly look at different flights and find the best deal and most convenient times for your specific requirements.
Skyscannerdoesn’t only sell flights directly but instead lets you browse the deals fromother airlines. This way, you can make an informed decision before choosingwhich one to use.
Additionally,Skyscanner can also be used to compare prices on hotels, car hire and more.Once you have chosen the provider you want to go with, you’ll then be taken tothe agency so that you can complete the booking process.
Skyscanner usessmart search engine technology to provide its results quickly while taking intoaccount helpful search criteria. It also offers useful tips and news on itsmain page for travellers. This is much more powerful when it comes to comparingflight information when compared with similar capabilities of other travelcompanies.
In Skyscanner’sown words:
“Skyscanner’sflexible search options mean you can browse prices across a whole month, oreven a year, allowing you to get the best deals. When you find the perfect dealthrough Skyscanner, you are redirected to book direct with the airline ortravel agent, so you get the lowest price, with no extra fees added.”
Though thecompany is global, the head office is based in Scotland, with offices inEdinburgh, Glasgow, Singapore, Beijing, Miami and Barcelona.
The company wasformed in 2001 by three programmers: Bonamy Grimes, Barry Smith and GarethWilliams. The original motivation for forming the company was that one had beenfrustrated while trying to get cheap flights to ski resorts.
Thus, theydeveloped Skyscanner version 1 which was released in 2002. In 2003 the companyhired its first employee to aid site development and by 2004 the head office inEdinburgh was opened. By 2013 the company had grown to accommodate over180 staff members.
To begin withthe, the site focused only on budget airlines in Europe. However, it nowincludes most European carriers, including BA, KLM, Virgin Atlantic Airways andothers. It has also expanded its reach, now covering the US, Canada, Asia andmuch of the rest of the world. It has over 35 million visitors a month and aturnover of £93 million a year.
The Website and Features
Part ofSkyscanner’s popularity comes from its ease of use and its attractive design.When you visit the website, this comes across with an uncluttered andattractive appearance. The homepage consists of the search engine itself,allowing you to enter your details for flights and when you hit ‘search’ you’llbe presented with a list of everything that meets your criteria. From here, youcan then select the best offer and you’ll be taken to the site of the airlineto book. The site is multilingual and available in over 30 languages.
In 2011,Skyscanner collaborated with the mobile development company Kotikan (based inEdinburgh) to release a mobile application. The app managed to receive anincredible 100,000 downloads in just six days on iPhone alone. By March 2013,the app had seen over 20 million downloads. Like the main website, theSkyscanner app receives praise for its smooth animations, easy interface andslick all-round design. It also has apps for Android and Windows, with theDesktop Windows app being particularly attractive and slick to use.
An additionalfeature of Skyscanner is ‘Sky tools’ – a tool that lets webmasters and usersdownload Skyscanner flight information to embed on their own website, desktopof social media pages. APIs include a Flight Map with interactive airports,WhoFlies with airlines for any given route and FlightSearch which provides liveprices. A use of this might be for a hotel based in Mauritius for instance toprovide useful travel information right on its own page for holidaymakerscoming from the UK or Germany.
Skyscanner ownsthe hotel comparison firm Fogg, which it uses to extend it service to coverhotels as well. In addition to this, the company also purchased the mobile appdeveloper ‘Distinction’ and the door-to-door travel site Zoombu. Theseacquisitions suggest the company has further plans for expansion.
Pros and Cons
UsingSkyscanner allows users to quickly compare flight information to find the bestprices for a specific trip they are hoping to make. This is of course highly advantageous,but it does have some caveats to consider.
WhileSkyscanner is one of the most powerful and well-received sites of its nature–and generally superior to alternatives like Kayak – it is still not completelycomprehensive. Some searches may not show up on Skyscanner and this cansometimes lead to the wrong purchase whereas a professional could have providedmore guidance.
Another thingto keep in mind is that Skyscanner does not support package holidays and otherdeals. If you are looking for a travel holiday with your family and you want toinclude your hotel and your airport shuttle, you might be better looking at atraditional travel agent like Thomas Cook or Virgin.
Note as wellthat flight prices and times are subject to change. While one option might becheapest when you look, waiting a few days could have resulted in an even cheaperdeal. This unfortunately is something that can’t easily be avoided.
Skyscannerworks best then for a particular type of traveller – usually the young travellerflying alone or with a partner and who is looking for cheap and convenienttravel at short notice. Indeed, surveys indicate that Skyscanner is preferredby users in the 16-34 age bracket. Among this group it appears quite popularwith 64% saying they trust the platform and use it often.
Overall, Skyscanner is a very useful tool and especially when used inconjunction with other services and when used in the correct way. Like allservices though, it does have some limitations.