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What is KAYAK? Your guide to finding flights

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It’s wild that just a few decades ago, the only way to book a flight was to talk to someone on the phone. Now, there are so many options for finding flights… so it can be hard to know where to start. What’s the difference between KAYAK and other travel sites? Why should you search one over the other? We’re here to set the record straight about who we are, what we do and how to use us to find your ideal flight.

Yes, we’re named after a boat. No, we don’t sell actual kayaks (or any boats, for that matter). Here’s what we do and what makes us different.

We’re a travel search engine.

When you need an answer, you use a saba sport search engine. When you need to plan a trip, you use us. We’re a meta-search site made for travel, which means we’re essentially a search engine created specifically for travelers. That’s all we do.

From flights to hotels, rental cars and more, we scour the depths of the internet to find you all the ways to make your trip happen. These options might include results from online travel agencies (OTAs), discount suppliers, other search engines and the flight/hotel/rental car’s own website. We bring all this information together so you have the details you need to choose what works best for you.

We’re not like most travel sites.

Since we’re a search engine, we’re not selling you anything. We don’t care if you book a flight with or just book directly with the airline/hotel/rental car agency. All we really care about is making sure you know your options and are finding the best deal out there.

But, because we’re not selling anything, we don’t handle the booking or the customer service associated with your travel. This means if you need to get in touch with your booking provider, you need to contact the agency or company directly. It also means that we don’t have control of prices and availability. We’re merely the messenger.

2. How do I search for flights on KAYAK?

We can help you find hotels, vacation rentals, rental cars, trains, buses… and yes, we’re good at finding flights, too. Here’s a step-by-step guide for how to use KAYAK for your next search.

Step 1: pull up our site (or app).

First things first: type into your browser (or just click that link) and you’ll find yourself on our homepage. Hi, welcome. From here, click on “Flights”, which is the first option on the left-hand navigation bar under “Sign in”. Speaking of signing in, creating a KAYAK account makes it easy to track searches, save flights, and start planning. Download our app to your mobile phone or tablet to get the full trip-planning experience.

If you scroll down, you’ll also find more information about what we have to offer, as well as travel inspiration. From trending destinations to upcoming travel events, direct flight suggestions and more, our flights landing page has ever-changing features that can help you travel smarter.

Step 2: plug in where you want to go.

Back to the search bar, where you can enter your preferred starting airport and destination (or multiple destinations). For more options, select “Add nearby airports” to find others in a 70 – 100-mile radius of your origin and/or destination. Sometimes, flying into a smaller airport might help you save on a flight. Or you may not realize that an international hub is just an extra 20 miles away.

While we’re on the topic of airports, this would be a good time to select how many flights you need. Use the first drop-down on the left side to choose from one-way flights, round-trip options, or multi-city trips. The “Multi-city trips” option will take you to our trip builder tool, where you can figure out the cheapest way to hit multiple cities in one trip. You can find more on how to use this tool here.

Step 3: select when you want to go.

Now, let us know your desired travel dates. If you have set dates in mind, go ahead and plug those in – you can also search by weekend or month. Less concerned about the dates and more concerned about potential savings?

Play around with our Flexible Dates tool. This will show you the cost difference for various days, making it easy for you to choose a cheaper departure and/or arrival date.

Step 4: add the final details.

Don’t hit that search button just yet. Once you’ve selected where you’re going and when, let us know how many people are going. This is also where you can refine the kinds of travelers joining you on your journey, which could change the price of your ticket(s). For example, if you’re a student, choosing this option could help you unlock exclusive savings for travelers 18 and up. Here’s more information about how students can save on travel when finding flights on KAYAK.

Last but not least, be sure to select which class you’d like to sit in: economy, premium economy, business, first, or multiple. You will also want to put in how many carry-on bags you need or if you plan to check luggage. The less stuff you bring, the cheaper your ticket will be.

Step 5: hit that search button.

This is where you can sit back and relax while we search far and wide to find you all your possible flight options. Give us a few moments while we try to uncover the exact flight you’re seeking.

3. How do I refine my KAYAK search results?

This is the fun part, where you can truly customize your search results. Here’s how to tap into our filters to fit your flight needs.

Narrow down your options using our filters.

When we said we want you to have all the options, we meant it. But having unlimited options can be overwhelming. That’s why we’d recommend taking advantage of the sorting filters, which are located just below the search bar. Here, you can sort your flight results based on your preferences, like seeing the cheapest or quickest options first. Other sorting filters include the earliest take-off, the latest take-off, the earliest landing and the latest landing.

Once you get all that sorted (see what we did there?), move on over to the filters menu on the left side. This is where you can really go crazy with search preferences. From limiting the number of stops to airport locations, preferred airlines and more, this section has a total of 14 different filters to choose from. Take some time to get familiar with these options or skim through 8 flight filters you should know about.

We thought you’d never ask. We pride ourselves on savings, so we’re constantly trying to drum up new ways to help you score travel deals. Here are some of our favorite tried-and-true flight hacker tools.

Price Forecast.

Pay attention to the little box that says “Our advice” in the top left corner of your search window – this is our Price Forecaster tool. This tool uses our search data to help predict whether you should wait or book your flight now, based on price trends and historical prices.

Price Alerts.

Take a closer look at the Price Forecast box. Do you see that little toggle towards the bottom of the box that says “Track prices”? When you switch it on, it creates a Price Alert for your flight search. Price Alerts are one of our secret weapons for finding the best prices when you’re not sure when to buy.

Price Alerts work by using our Price Forecast data to try and determine what will happen to prices in the next few days. If and/or when the prices change, we let you know by sending you an email or notification (if you have the app). This toggle isn’t the only way to create a Price Alert – here’s a full how-to guide for using this money-saving feature.

Hacker Fares.

Booking a roundtrip flight through one carrier is easy, sure – but it’s not always cheaper. That’s why we created Hacker Fares. By finding two one-way flights that together make a roundtrip ticket, Hacker Fares can help you pay less than you might pay for a normal roundtrip ticket. These fares sometimes utilize different airports for your departure and return flights. They might also include using two different carriers – here’s everything you need to know about this flight search tool.


The occasional urge to pack up and fly somewhere – anywhere – is all too real. That’s one of the reasons why we love our Explore feature.

Using your home airport (or any airport) as a starting point, Explore shows you the cheapest flights to destinations all around the world. This tool is perfect for travelers who want to take a trip but don’t necessarily have a specific destination in mind.

The more flexible you are, the more options you’ll find. You can also narrow down your search based on specific dates or date ranges, number of stops, budget, duration or what type of trip you’re craving. Head to our Explore page to try it out or read up on how to use this tool.

Best Time To Travel.

As the most recent addition to our line of money-saving tools, the Best Time to Travel takes the guesswork out of when to take your trip and when to book.

You might have heard mixed messages in the past about which days and times are best for finding cheap flights – with this tool, we’re putting the rumors to rest. Plug in your destination and we’ll help you nail down your trip dates and the best time to book your flights. Give it a try when planning your next trip.

Are there any other KAYAK resources I should know about?

While we have plenty of other resources available, the best way to stay up-to-date on our guides, tools, and features is to subscribe to our newsletter. Our emails help to fill you in on the latest travel news and often have insider, data-back tips for how to save money on travel. Add your email to our list by visiting our homepage.

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