Research found price difference of up to £609 across flights from London Heathrow, depending site
New Andersen data shows flight costs can fluctuate by 363% across comparison sites
New data released by software development company Andersen has found that travellers may be paying as much as 363% extra for their flights abroad, depending on which travel comparison site they use.
The findings pulled together by Andersen, follow an analysis of the destinations, prices, and features offered across the UK’s most searched-for travel comparison sites, including those offering flights and accommodation.
The analysis included household providers like Expedia and found that some people may be charged up to £609 extra for the same return flight from London Heathrow (LHR).
The data showed that the average price fluctuation between the analysed providers was 62%, or £158. The available destinations also vary between flight providers, with some offering as many as 110% more stops from LHR.
Comparison sites are also subject to up to a 143% difference in the number of airlines they cover.
Customers will also find the ease of their shopping experience impacted depending on which comparison site they use, as less than two-thirds (60%) of the sites analysed allow for multi-city flight searches, while two-fifths (20%) allowed for flexible travel dates.
It said that flight comparison sites make it easier to manage orders compared to other fields like accommodation. The majority of comparison sites (80%) allow you to cancel your booking directly through them without contacting the airline.
The data shows that those who instead plan to book a staycation rather than travel abroad should also consider consulting multiple comparison sites, as prices fluctuate by up to 103%.
This means that travellers intending to stay for three nights anywhere in the UK may pay as much as £351 extra per person for the privilege, depending on the site they use.
This difference equates to an average of 13% or £48 between sites but those using accommodation comparison sites can better control how they pay for their booking than for flights, as hotel sites offer more flexibility around payment methods, with an average of 3.8 each, compared to 3.4 for flights.
The most consistently available payment methods across all types of comparison sites were PayPal, credit cards, and buy now, pay later (BNPL) financing, making it easier for Brits to split the cost of their travel.
As well as looking at the difference in provisions between sites, the study looked at the public perception of each provider via Trustpilot - and the most common complaints for each.
It found that customers are more "frustrated" by hotel comparison sites than they are by any other type of provider, including those in travel, recruitment and property, with almost half (47%) of the reviews left across the analysed brands rating them just one star.
The most common complaint across flight comparison sites was the difficulty of obtaining a refund, accounting for 1 in 10 negative reviews (10%), while 5% of one-star reviews criticised the providers for making it too difficult to cancel their booking.
Consumers are predicted to turn to comparison sites more between now and Christmas, as the rising cost of living means many are more eager to seek a saving than before.
However, Valentin Kuzmenko, VP of Sales at Andersen warns against taking a "one and done" approach to shopping online.
He said: “While comparison sites can be a helpful way to find the best deals from individual airlines or accommodation providers, they are often biased in that they favour specific products due to affiliate partnerships or ad agreements.
“Many may also overlook niche providers that otherwise offer competitive prices and unique offerings, and they fail to account for personal preferences like individual requirements or filters - particularly those that don’t offer features like flexible booking or direct cancellation.
“Make sure to cross-reference multiple sites to ensure you’re getting the best deal, and consider the availability of helpful features like buy now, pay later services and an easy-to-contact customer service department. And always ensure you’re using trusted, well-established comparison sites when shopping to avoid getting scammed.”