Plane taking off through airport window

Flightfox Review: Will It Save You Money on Airfare?

By Dustin Main Websites18 Comments

We may earn a commission from purchases you make after clicking links on this site. Learn more.

If you hate spending hours looking for the perfect flights at the best price, you’re not alone. With so many flight search engines, so many airports, and so many variables, it can be a huge time-suck just trying to get what you want without paying too much.

I first heard about Flightfox when it was still in the idea stage nearly two years ago. Officially launched earlier this year, it has quickly become the go-to place for providing great deals on flight itineraries. And I’ve saved over $500 using it so far.

How Flightfox Works

First off, Flightfox isn’t a search engine, at least not in the standard way.  Instead, it’s a human-powered service that allows experts to help you find the best possible price and itinerary to meet your needs. Unlike a travel agent who gets paid a commission on a sale, experts compete to find the best price for you based on an award you set.

Simply, you create what Flightfox calls a “contest,” which is essentially the itinerary you are looking for. Freelance experts will then see your contest, and compete by using their skills to get you the best deal.

You assign a value for the contest award, from $24 (basic) to $34 (standard), or name your own price. The higher the price you’re willing to pay, the more experts it will attract.

When the contest is up, you award the person who found the best flight to fit your needs, and you book the flight yourself (they tell you how).

Making a Contest

Flightfox and its interface is quite simple. Like a regular flight search engine, you fill in your departure and arrival destination, with one-way, return, and multi-city options available.

Flightfox review

Next, you can specify how flexible your itinerary is. For example, maybe you could leave anytime within a 10-day window, but must return by a particular date.

Do you have checked baggage or just carry-on? Do you prefer a particular airline, or are you willing to take ground transportation, or make multiple stops? The more information, the better for the experts.

All in all, it takes about 60 seconds to fill out a contest form.

Over the next 1-3 days, you’ll be notified when an expert submits an itinerary for you. You can update your contest with more information, and grade their submission. The more feedback you give, the better flights they can find for your needs.

My Real World Flightfox Examples

I’ve given Flightfox a try on two itineraries recently.

First was a one-way flight from Kuala Lumpur to Denver one month out back in May. The best I found was a flight on Kayak for $1042. After 3 days, that was the best the experts could find as well. Cue sad face.

KL-DEN-tma
  • Kayak: $1042
  • Flightfox: $1042

(I was out $29 for the award)

I gave Flightfox another chance, and used it to help me find a one-way flight between Saskatoon (Canada) and Barcelona about one month in advance again less than a month ago. Within hours, experts were already submitting itineraries for me.

In the end, here’s what I got for my $24 award:

YXE-BCN-tma
  • Kayak: $1149
  • Flightfox: $571

Yes, you read that right, less than half price, a saving of $578.

Impressive!

Not only that, but the expert worked with me to see if we could make an itinerary that might fit my needs a little bit better, even if it would cost a bit more.

The difference in the second itinerary was two-fold. First, there was a charter company who had cheap flights between Canada and Portugal.  Second, a low-cost carrier in Europe took me to Barcelona from there (Lisbon).

Both are typically omitted from the typical flight search engines, but the experts knew the tricks and the deals.

One other difference was that when I launched my first contest above (KL –> DEN), there was no option to give a price you had already found. That has now been added, and I wouldn’t have awarded it otherwise.

Where Flightfox Shines

If what you’re looking for is flexible flight options, multi-city itineraries, and areas that include many low-cost carrier options such as Europe and Asia, Flightfox could save you big money. 

As well, if you just wanted to fly from New York to “cheapest flight to Europe,” the experts could find the best price for multiple locations.

The more complicated the itinerary, and the more flexible you are, the better Flightfox will be.

On the other hand Flightfox isn’t the answer for all of your flight needs. Basic flights on particular dates are probably just as well served by a regular search engine. Toronto –> Vancouver would be a poor choice for using Flightfox, for instance. There are only a couple of airlines that fly in Canada, and the route is simple.

Flightfox is also best used for people who are a little savvy when it comes to booking flights. Unlike the typical search engine, after awarding the contest, the expert will tell how exactly how to book the itinerary. It may involve buying two or more flights from different airlines.

Finally, for those frequent fliers among us, it appears that Flightfox will offer a service to help you redeem your miles for the best award flights in the near future.

Have you used Flightfox before?  Do you have a favourite tip or technique for finding the best flights?


Image via Jan Vašek

About the Author
Dustin Main

Dustin Main

Twitter Google+

Dustin just can't get enough travel or technology, but when he's not directly feeding one of those insatiable habits, you can probably find him at some far away ice cream shop taking pictures of empty cups. That, or on top of a mountain somewhere shooting photos and finding adventures to share on his website "A Skinny Escape".

Comments

  1. Avatar

    This is fantastic! I’d heard the name of this site but didn’t know how it worked. A bit of a gamble, like on your first flight, but your second itinerary more than made up for it!

  2. Avatar

    I think it’s a great idea but I’m not sure about the uptake because it’s effectively gambling. Maybe I misunderstood something but it seems to me you’re buying a lottery ticket to maybe win something in savings because if you get a price no better than Expedia etc. you’ve dropped a bunch of dollars for nothing. I would never use it unless they included an instant no-quibble refund when they don’t find a saving greater than the sum of their fee on your own genuine quote.

    1. Dustin Main Author

      Hey Simon,

      You may have missed in the article where I mentioned that they have now added a spot for you to put in the best price you have found already (price to beat).

      Although it was a bit more of a focus in my post, Flightfox isn’t just for cost savings. More convenient itineraries are also a big feature.

      Either way, the one thing it comes down to is that some itineraries (more complex routes, or if you are more flexible) are better suited for Flightfox than others (basic flights on regular routes).

      And finally, what is your time worth? Some people love searching out the best flight deals (we have a post coming on this), while others (like me) would rather pay $30 and have someone do the work for me (and better than I can), especially on those tricky legs.

      1. Avatar

        Hi Dustin. I did notice the price to beat and I also got that some people would just like to have a personal travel agent. I think the service is great for the latter but my interest is in price-beating and as such my thoughts remain the same. Anyway, I was glad you wrote a piece on it which brought the website to my attention.

    2. Avatar

      Hey Simon,

      We have a 100% satisfaction guarantee. We’ll refund your fee for any reason. That said, email me for a coupon code for a free contest so I can convince you 🙂

      All the best,
      Todd @ Flightfox

      1. Avatar

        Hi Todd,

        just came across the blog. Never heard about flightfox.com before. Definitely,sceptical here. We live in Australia. Do you think it’s possible to receive a coupon code for a free contest as well for down under? Might be worthwhile 🙂 .

        Cheers,
        Heike

      2. Dustin Main Author

        Might be worth keeping an eye on their Facebook page as they have run a couple of coupons in the past. Else check our link for 25% off and give it a go!

  3. Avatar

    Hi Dustin,

    Todd from Flightfox here. Many thanks for the review. I do remember talking to you about Flightfox in Buenos Aires at that restaurant La Dorita 🙂

    As you pointed out, there are definitely cases where Flightfox works better, but we hope to keep improving so we can offer value for all flights.

    Look forward to catching up again.
    Todd

  4. Avatar

    Well, this is a very timely post for me! I’m just starting to look for flights back to Canada from England for Christmas and am considering giving FlightFox a go. I’ve heard good things from some other travellers but I’m still a little unsure about it – though your explanation and review is helping to swing me in favour of throwing caution to the wind! Thanks for posting this, it was exactly what I was looking for! 🙂

  5. Avatar

    It’s an interesting idea and lots of potential. I like how there’s a price to beat and separate fields for & – days flexibility. Would be nice to be able to add “customizable if/than statements” which need to be satisfied in order for award to be given.

    The tricky part is communicating what we perceive as superior. Lots of travelers are flexible and the idea of stopovers may be a great bonus. I even wouldn’t mind paying a bit more for an itinerary which included an overnight stopover in a new country. On the other hand, given the choice of have a direct flight on a good airline and taking multiple low-cost carriers for a $100 savings, I’d rather go direct.

    1. Dustin Main Author

      You can put all of that in the notes section. I found that the experts were very good at not only checking those out, but asking me questions back as well.

      If you were looking for itineraries that included things like stopovers to explore a new place, I think Flightfox would be awesome for that. Things like that are typically very difficult for traditional search engines to find properly.

  6. Avatar

    I use flightfox on the regular. Last month I saved $300 when booking a flight from SFO to MAN and this month I saved $320 on a flight from SFO to HKG. Some of the experts are really really really good and you kind of have to be specific and patient if you want the best flights.

    FYI: the more information the better. dont expect a LAX to JFK on October 1st to suffice. try an include /- days, alternate airports, specific airlines, etc… the more they have to work with the better

  7. Avatar

    I’ve tried it twice and neither time there was any savings involved, and both times FlightFox refused to issue a refund.

    You are paying for a quote from a travel agent, because that is what most of these experts are – travel agents.

    I am sure some people get lucky and do save money, but they offer no guarantee of a better flight and they are expensive.

  8. Avatar

    Had so many problems with flightfox. I do not recommend at all. I doubt their experts are experts. They still pretended my ticket was modifiable after I noticed them it was not possible. Then they told me that my expectations were not reasonable, and that I did not express myself well so they did not understand what I wanted… of course this is the client’s fault.
    I know what I asked for and if it was not clear enough, they should have asked.
    I lost a lot of time, energy and money.
    Adding to that, that the flight was not that cheaper, and that my “expert” took a long time to answer. He even told me something like “sorry was in Berlin”.Well this is not my problem…
    I do not recommend. If there is a problem they do not take any responsability

  9. Avatar

    I had a bad experience with flightfox too. It was my first time using the website and I made a mistake in the currency, I’ve informed them within a few hours after noticing. After that the “Expert” tried ignored my message when I told him it was a mistake, he insisted is the cheapest option. It went on awhile to get him to acknowledged my message and now Flightfox insists to charge me a fee of US$49 because the expert invested time on this.

  10. Avatar

    It was a complete waste of time and money using Flightfox. An overseas project changed dates so when I requested the change I found out that we are totally screwed because they booked us nonrefundable tickets that weren’t even cheap. For a business, a travel company should be able to work tight schedules of exeuctives/project managers and the fares should always be booked changeable. Not scamming us for $8k with basically no way out. I have booked hundreds of flights and could have done this cheaper and we wouldn’t be stuck with this problem. Now I am stuck with no control over what is happening.

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.