I'm finding it ever more frustrating recently to compare and find the truly cheapest flights.

Flight search engines are more and more useless as airlines game the system increasingly to list low prices when you'll actually have to pay much more, especially with checked luggage.

Often the full amount of fees and taxes will not be shown until personal information and even credit card details have been entered. You can hunt each airline's sites for their luggage fees but they can be hard to find and easy to misinterpret.

For my current situation looking to fly from South Korea to a cheap destination in Southeast Asia, the full price often turns out to be double the advertised price!

I'm well into my trip so ditching my backpack is not an option. I'm looking for tips from experienced air travellers on how to select a flight when a huge proportion of the price seems to be hidden and obfuscated and seemingly unknowable in advance.


For Aussies such as yourself, my site - Beat That Flight (and beta Android app) might be able to help a bit.

For example, on a search from Sydney to Hong Kong - on the left side, you can see baggage options, with the perceived difference in price:

enter image description here

It's not perfect, and relies on data on upstream providers as well, but makes an effort to try and calculate luggage.

I've seen others block searches for airlines like RyanAir in the past as it was just too difficult with all their crazy fee addons, but suspect you'll see more and more features like this in time to come.

  • I found the interface confusing and if you're looking for beta tests, semi-retired computer programmer here (-: I do have to fight with it a bit but it is indeed doing what I want! Also, why only for Australians?? – hippietrail Aug 16 '19 at 5:07
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    @hippietrail thanks, I'm still growing it part time. FOcusing on deals for Australians but anyone can use the website. – Mark Mayo Aug 17 '19 at 3:56

Kayak is not my first choice of search engines, but I do note that it now attempts to factor carry-ons and checked bags into the price. You have to start the search and then change the zero bags default in the filters.

Kiwi.com (which I also am not thrilled with) will tell you which flights allow NO bags, which isn't a great help, but it's something.

Generally, I use various search engines, then check the details on a few (or several) of the cheapest results.

The extremely flexible app from Azuon.com includes the options in this image enter image description here Unfortunately, Azuon often as not tells me there are no flights from anywhere in North America to anywhere in (some other huge area) for an entire three-week period!

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    Interesting. Is that a windows app? A link might be useful – Mark Mayo Aug 16 '19 at 2:12
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    Related: travel.stackexchange.com/questions/54301/… – Mark Mayo Aug 16 '19 at 2:12
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    I found advice on other sites via Googling yesterday about this feature in Kayak. I found it problematic but got burned out with this stuff after too many hours and no longer recall the specific problems. – hippietrail Aug 16 '19 at 5:10
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    @MarkMayo, Azuon is a Windows app, but I used it on Mac with a Windows emulating wrapper called Wine. I suspect it would also run in one of the Unix emulators or in a VM. I spoke favorably of it in the question you linked to, but since that time it has developed serious deficiencies, as I mentioned in the last sentence of my answer. I first reported such incidents to them at least eighteen months ago, and it is still happening. – WGroleau Aug 16 '19 at 6:12
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    Looks like a Windows 95 app. – Harper - Reinstate Monica Aug 17 '19 at 1:38

I book flights regularily and actually keep a list of hidden charges for the sites that come up near the top of any search regularily. Then, when I make a new search and see the prices listed, I simply add the hidden charges I know about in my head. Typically, the offers are close enough together that the hidden charges actually do make a difference.

It's a low-tech approach and it needs quite a few bookings (and going back out of a site because you consider their charges too high and picking another option) but by now I have a fairly complete list.

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    Yes I was about to find a notepad and do this myself! I ended up using a text file along with Mark Mayo's site though, so kind of a hybrid approach (-: – hippietrail Aug 16 '19 at 10:33

Swede's have the option to use the website Flygresor.se which can include the surcharge for a checked bag and also for climate compensation and payment method.

The site only searches prices through Swedish travel agencies, not directly with the carriers. Because of this prices are only available in SEK and support is very limited. The airline selection could also be limited - hence I only recommend this site for Swedes but of course anyone could use it.

If I remember correctly Flygresor.se is a joint venture between all the major Swedish travel agencies.

The Complete Price at Flygresor.se

  • For Swedes only, but in English? Is it not possible to find the two or three cheapest flights there, and then check elsewhere for a better price with similar parameters? – WGroleau Aug 16 '19 at 19:13
  • I usually do just that. I guess anyone could use it, but the airline selection could be limited. It's available in several languages - we have a lot of people here who aren't that good in Swedish - but the websites of the travel agencies could be Swedish-only and also require a Swedish adress. – Mikael Dúi Bolinder Aug 16 '19 at 19:19

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