Beloved around the world for its ability to find cheap and flexible flights, hotels, and car hire services, Skyscanner has become a staple in the budget travel sphere.
That being said, numerous people who have booked through Skyscanner have had issues with payment, bookings not being accepted by airlines, and more, so is Skyscanner legit? Let’s dive in and find out my honest opinion.
Is Skyscanner Legit?
The simple answer is yes, Skyscanner is legit and does exactly what it promises as a travel search engine. It’s important to note that you cannot book or buy anything from Skyscanner, it’s just a portal to other websites where bookings are facilitated. So, this is why Skyscanner is doing its job and is reliable as a travel search engine.
That being said, not all of the websites that Skyscanner features or partners with are legit websites. This makes it feel like Skyscanner is not a legit website as it doesn’t vet its partners well enough in the eyes of many travelers and customers.
What you need to consider is that Skyscanner doesn’t always vet its partners. They’re advertisers who largely pay to appear on Skyscanner’s platform so that they can improve their reach.
When you think about the business model from this perspective, of course, there are going to be some bad seeds that make Skyscanner look bad.
Just as Instagram doesn’t really vet businesses that pay for ads on their platform, neither does a travel search agent like Skyscanner. When you make a booking with a site that you’ve found through Skyscanner, make sure you research the site heavily to avoid any disappointment or issues further down the line. If in doubt, opt to book directly with the airline!
Is Skyscanner Safe To Buy Tickets?
One of the biggest questions that gets asked about Skyscanner is whether or not it’s safe to buy tickets through this site. This is not a simple question. That’s because, as Michael Antione explains in his Skyscanner review video, there are a whole host of different partners that feature on Skyscanner searches.
Fundamentally, Skyscanner is a travel search engine. So, the results that come up aren’t entirely vetted or associated with Skyscanner themselves. It would be like Google being responsible for checking every single result and page that comes through its virtual doors – it would be insane, right?
So, the safety of buying tickets through Skyscanner depends solely on the individual partners that you choose. Obviously, it’s safest to book through the airline and Skyscanner does highlight the airline price option from the list of available vendors, but it’s not often the cheapest option on display.
Buying Through Third Parties
Let’s be honest, buying through third parties is normally cheaper than buying through the airline on the surface. However, the risk is that if the third party messes up or there’s a cancellation, you might not be able to get your money back, as you’re going through a middleman.
Some airlines, like Ryanair, have refused to honor tickets that have been bought through third-party websites if they don’t have a commercial agreement with them. Basically, certain sites have agreements with specific airlines to sell their flights, but many, especially through Skyscanner and other travel search engines, sell without airline agreements.
Make sure that any website you buy through is accepted by the airline and has either ABTA or ATOL protection in case of cancellations. These protections are normally a good sign when it comes to trusting a travel website.
If in doubt, find the cheapest day through Skyscanner’s flexibility tools, then choose to go through the airline for the booking itself.
The Reviewing System
One of the things that Skyscanner has put in place is the ability for users to rate and rank different websites that it links to. So, when you find the flight you want, you can see a ranking out of five stars next to each website and price.
This is designed to help you make an informed decision about who you book with. However, like every review system on the internet, it’s easy to fill with false or unreliable reviews.
As always, cross reference any reviews you find on Skyscanner with Google reviews and experiences elsewhere online. If you’re hearing the same few comments over and over again, then chances are that they’re true!
Why Is Skyscanner So Cheap?
Another major reason why a lot of people question whether or not Skyscanner is legit is due to the cheap prices. However, as we’ve already mentioned, Skyscanner does not set any prices or rates on their websites. They’re literally just a portal for other companies to offer flight deals and other travel-related services.
That being said, a lot of the rates that we see on Skyscanner seem to be a lot cheaper than on other websites, so why is Skyscanner so cheap? Let’s find out.
Many of these websites that sell through Skyscanner cut their agreed-upon commission with airlines, hotels, and car hire companies in order to offer cheaper rates to customers. It’s not removing commission altogether, but a lot of the time it’s lowering from around 20% to 15% and passing on the 5% saving to the customer.
The majority of the sites that sell through Skyscanner are deal websites. That means that they have no set airline allegiances and offer special deals that either have to be booked very quickly, or they only have a set number of seats available at a given rate.
This kind of pressure booking has been flagged by many aviation authorities and governments all around the world. While it’s not exactly illegal, having pop-ups around warning about availability has been dismissed as being false advertising a lot of the time.
Another reason why some of the rates on Skyscanner are cheaper than going directly to the airline websites is that they offer multi-airline routes.
Of course, if you want to book through the airline via Skyscanner, you’ll have to make two separate bookings, but it does show cheaper options if you don’t mind making two bookings or going through an online travel agent (OTA) website like LoveHolidays, Lastminute.com, and more.
So, while one airline might not have flights both ways for the dates you want, Skyscanner can show you routes that use separate airlines for the outbound and inbound journeys.
Especially with the low-cost airlines, being able to mix and match flights means that you can find affordable rates for a wide range of dates and times.
Suggested Reading: The 12 Best First Class Airlines To Fly With
Is Skyscanner Better Than Google Flights?
A common question when it comes to travel search engines is, is Skyscanner better than Google Flights? While there are a lot of similarities between the two, the differences are the main drivers when it comes to personal preference. Let’s see how the two travel search engine giants stack up.
First things first, Skyscanner offers a much bigger choice of flights, routes, and vendors. That’s because Skyscanner allows deal websites and online travel agents, whereas Google Flights does not.
This bigger choice can mean that cheaper rates can be found, but it also means that there is a higher risk of sketchy travel websites coming through the searches.
Google Flights only shows the prices offered directly by the airlines. This is obviously one of the most secure ways in which you can find flight tickets and prices, and ensure that your bookings are legit.
While this doesn’t always offer the cheapest rates, it’s arguably the safest way to book travel. You can also still mix and match with different airlines on Google Flights like you can on Skyscanner, but at the end of the day, you can only really get a decent deal if the airlines have a sale or decide to set an affordable offer.
Both Skyscanner and Google Flights offer a ton of flexibility in their searches to allow you to find the cheapest days to fly, the cheapest month, and where is available to fly to on your given dates from your set departure airport.
You can also set a ton of alerts so that you don’t need to manually check your flights every day. These are both great services that save travelers a lot of time and energy.
There’s also the opportunity to check whether the price is average, cheap, or expensive given historical records, usually through a traffic light, green, orange, and red system.
Can I Get My Money Back From Skyscanner?
So, one of the major reasons why people think Skyscanner is not a legitimate website is that when people get scammed by a partner or linked website, Skyscanner can’t really help or do anything.
Skyscanner doesn’t deal with payments, it doesn’t take bookings or anything like that. For example, if you went onto the Ryanair website directly from a Google Search, and something went wrong, you wouldn’t expect Google to pay up and sort it out for you.
If there’s a problem with your booking or one of the partners that you found through Skyscanner, they cannot help you get your money back, but it is still important to flag any scam or misleading travel websites to Skyscanner so they can remove them or reassess their partnership with them moving forward. It doesn’t necessarily help you in the moment, but it stops other people getting ripped off too.
As with any big purchase or site that you’re unsure of, make sure you do your due diligence before booking. Check online reviews, check for ATOL or ABTA protection, and if a deal seems way too good to be true, then it probably is and it’s best to steer clear.
Role Of A Travel Search Engine
Skyscanner is simply just a travel search engine. Much like Google or Ecosia in the wider world of searching, it’s there to help you find what you’re looking for.
You do not spend any money with Skyscanner. It makes its money through advertising and partner fees.
So, understanding the role and responsibilities of a travel search engine is really important when we’re checking if Skyscanner is legit or not.
Skyscanner is delivering on its promises to show us the cheapest deals available, but some of the sites that they feature might not be as legit as others out there.
Skyscanner Customer Service
While Skyscanner does have a customer service email and helpline, there is a limit to what they can do. If you have accessibility or technical issues with the site, then customer service can help.
However, if you have an issue with your booking, this does not fall within Skyscanner’s remit and you’ll need to contact the website or company that you made the booking with initially.
Of course, if you want to report any sites that are scamming customers or misleading clients, then you should absolutely contact Skyscanner customer service so that they can flag this company before they can do more damage.
Depending on the number of complaints or the severity, Skyscanner may remove partner websites or put them under review.
My Final Thoughts on Skyscanner
So, all in all, Skyscanner is a legitimate website. It’s a travel search engine and it’s probably one of the best of its kind, up there with Google Flights and Momondo.
However, like all search engines, it tends to show the good as well as the bad. While Skyscanner is taking steps with customer reviews and scam advice, you still need to do your homework before handing over any money to a featured website or online travel agency (OTA) through Skyscanner.
With that in mind, here are some takeaways:
- Google the travel website or booking site before you commit and cross-reference reviews from different places.
- If in doubt, book directly with the airline. You can use Skyscanner to find the best dates or options and then go through the airline once you’ve chosen your specific flights.
- Skyscanner can offer cheaper rates as they have a bigger selection of airlines, OTAs, and booking websites that they feature. Some of these get bulk deals with airlines, some cut their commissions, and some use pressure booking techniques to make deals seem better than they are.
- Skyscanner does not deal with customer transactions, bookings, or money, so if you need help with your booking, you need to contact the website you bought your tickets through, not Skyscanner. They won’t be able to do anything meaningful.
Have you used Skyscanner before? What do you think about it? Do you love it or are you a skeptic? Let us know what you think in the comments below.