Go online for bargain flights across Europe

Q and A

Q&a

July 16, 2006|By NEW YORK TIMES NEWS SERVICE

I'm looking for a Web site where I can compare prices and schedules of low-cost airlines across Europe, like EasyJet and Ryanair. Sites such as Expedia and Opodo are great, but only show conventional carriers.

Many readers are frustrated at being unable to find the schedules of no-frills, or low-cost, carriers on major online travel sites.

There are basically three kinds of sites for planning itineraries and making reservations: those that display a choice of airlines and fares and allow you to book and pay with your card on that site; so-called comparison sites, which show options from airlines and other travel sites (not necessarily prices) and require you to click on a link to those sites to book; and sites run by specific airlines, which may give a wider choice of their schedules and fares than other sites.

OAGflights.com and Amadeus.net display 500,000 direct and connecting flights (though not prices) from more than 800 airlines, including no-frills carriers such as Ryanair and EasyJet. Sites that specialize in no-frills carriers include Skyscanner.net, which claims to compare fares for all budget airlines that serve Britain and Europe; Travelsupermarket.com, which compares fares on about 36 airline and travel sites, including EasyJet, Opodo and Travelocity; Gooflight.com, which searches for "the cheapest flight between two points" among 19 low-cost airlines in 33 countries (it may combine two low-cost routes for the cheapest fare); and Whichbudget.com, which lists 113 airlines in 107 countries, and 16,061 routes (this is one of the best sites for keeping up to date on which airline flies where).

Skylow.com is a promising new site that claims to find the cheapest fares among 64 low-cost carriers for 8,700 city pairs in 84 countries. You book and pay directly on the site (there's a $5 booking fee); so far it's limited to low-cost carriers. Dohop.com searches 650 low-cost and network carriers worldwide and, like Skylow.com, offers flight combinations where needed.

But keep in mind that low-cost carriers do not necessarily provide the cheapest fares on point-to-point routes in Europe. Many of the so-called network carriers, such as British Airways and Air France, have adopted the no-frills pricing model, offering cheap one-way tickets, and are often the best bet for late booking.

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