When to Use Kiwi for Your Next Flight Booking

Kiwi helps you hack your travel itinerary for convenience and savings, but it may not be the smoothest ride.

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Nerdy takeaways
  • Kiwi is a tool for finding cheap flight pairings and other savings on transit.

  • You'll have to pay extra to get protection if your flight is delayed or canceled.

Nerdy takeaways
  • Kiwi is a tool for finding cheap flight pairings and other savings on transit.

  • You'll have to pay extra to get protection if your flight is delayed or canceled.

Say you see a great flight deal to Europe, but you don’t live anywhere near the departing city. Optimistically, you search for flights out of your home airport, but the price is more than double that of the flight deal you found. Rather than throwing in the towel and letting another travel dream pass you by, consider this:

There's a way you can combine another flight, train or bus with that specific flight deal to get you where you want to go at a good price. It's called Kiwi, and it's an online travel agency with precisely this idea in mind.

While Kiwi isn't the best online travel agency for every trip, it can be a tool to find bookings for unique and specific situations. Since it’s hard to pass up cheap flights, here's a look at how Kiwi works and when it’s most useful to book transportation through its site and warnings you should be aware of.

Is Kiwi legit?

There are a myriad of poor reviews and concerning customer feedback surrounding Kiwi. This includes a one-star customer review rating on the Better Business Bureau website and 1.5 stars from over 60,000 reviews on TrustPilot, an online review platform. Customer complaints cover a range of issues from long-delays on refund requests to improperly booked tickets. It is recommended you proceed with caution using Kiwi.

What is Kiwi?

Kiwi is an online travel agency, based in the Czech Republic, specializing in combining flights and other forms of transportation into a single booking to get you where you need to go for a low price. Kiwi utilizes an expansive database of different flight, bus and train schedules to piece together the cheapest, fastest or overall best trip option.

At times, this can lead to overly creative and complicated itineraries that only save a few bucks. Other times, however, the service can pair a flight deal with a positioning flight, train or bus to drastically reduce your travel cost.

When should I use Kiwi for a flight booking?

For most travelers, using Kiwi will be a good option if flight prices are costly for the trip you want to take, you want to book a one-way international flight, you have a last-minute emergency or if you want to find a cheap and easy way to book a complicated itinerary. Here, we dive into the merits of using Kiwi flights and other transit for each of these situations.

Saving on expensive airfares

Even if you're booking a simple round-trip flight, it can be worth checking Kiwi for a better route or price option. Perhaps you can save $150 by driving to a nearby airport. Or, Kiwi can point out an option to fly a low-cost carrier to an intermediate airport and connect to another airline from there, saving on the overall trip.

For example, let's say you want to fly from Pittsburgh to Paris sometime in June 2022. According to a Google Flights search, the cheapest one-week trip would cost $1,177 round trip on American Airlines.

However, by searching through Kiwi, you can find a travel hack itinerary that costs just $854 round trip. The difference is that you would arrive and depart Paris on different airlines and from different airports.

Those modifications could mean over a $300 savings just by combining different flight options.

Booking one-way international flights

Kiwi can also come in handy when you can only fly one direction using miles and need to pay for the other flight in cash. One-way international flights can be expensive on many legacy airlines, but you might be able to find a positioning flight with a low-cost airline to book the one-way flight for a lot less.

I've used Kiwi to book a one-way trip from Papeete, Tahiti, to Atlanta, Georgia. I used American Airlines AAdvantage miles to fly to Tahiti, but I couldn't find award availability for the flight back home. United Airlines has flights on this route, but a one-way flight can cost over $1,000.

By searching on Kiwi, I found a flight option for as little as $632 that combined a French Bee flight from Tahiti to San Francisco with a Frontier Airlines flight from San Francisco to Atlanta. While you'd need to collect and recheck any baggage between the two flights, this flight option could be worth it for saving a few hundred dollars.

Booking multi-city trips using Kiwi Nomad

Say you want to visit London, Paris, Madrid and Rome in one grand Europe trip. You could manually try to piece together the cheapest way to visit all of these destinations. Or, to save time, you could use Kiwi's Nomad search option, which searches for the best itinerary for you.

Start by entering the airports you'd consider departing from and the date(s) you'd consider leaving. Dates can be as specific as a single day or as general as several months. Then, choose the length of your trip — from one to 60 nights.

Next, Kiwi will prompt you to add all of the destinations you want to visit and the length of stay at each one. Finally, you'll be given the option to choose whether to return home or to yet another city.

By selecting "Search journeys," Kiwi will start piecing together the most affordable options to visit the destinations on your list. In this case, you can pay just $626 per person to fly from San Francisco to Paris, Paris to Madrid, Madrid to London, London to Rome and Rome back to San Francisco.

Kiwi has bag fees covered, too, as it gives an option to include the cost of cabin or checked bags in the total trip cost. In this case, by adding a cabin bag, the lowest price option is now $813. Notice that Kiwi doesn't just add bag fees to an existing itinerary — instead, Kiwi changes the recommended route to the cheapest option that includes a bag.

You also have the option to limit the number of stops for each leg of the trip. Using the same example, if you want to fly nonstop on all flights and include a cabin bag, you can do so for $1,051. Again, Kiwi automatically reorders the itinerary to get the lowest price options.

Managing last-minute emergencies

The Kiwi travel agency can also be useful if you need to get across the world in a hurry. Whether it's a family emergency or an incredible new (and fast-approaching) opportunity, you probably want the quickest possible flight option. Especially with limited availability at the last minute, the fastest flight option found through a typical flight search engine may not be quick enough.

For example, say you need to depart as soon as possible to get from Istanbul to El Paso, Texas for a work opportunity. When you filter Google Flights search results for flights departing within 24 hours and sorted by duration, the platform yields flights that require an overnight layover. All one-stop options require an overnight in either Chicago or Houston and cost over $1,700.

However, by searching through Kiwi, you can find a flight itinerary that gets in the same day. In this case, Kiwi pairs a Turkish Airlines flight with either a United or American flight for around $970 one way.

Are there downsides to Kiwi?

While Kiwi is a helpful tool for finding and booking trips, there are some downsides to note.

It won’t always be the cheapest

For one, while Kiwi can help you save money by finding low-cost travel options, you aren't always going to surface the cheapest flight by booking through Kiwi. That's because Kiwi makes money by charging a surcharge to book flights, trains and buses all in one itinerary.

Let's circle back to that European Nomad itinerary in the example above that costs $813 with one carry-on bag. If you price out the same route and dates in Google Flights, you'll find a slightly different, mostly nonstop option for $728, including one carry-on bag.

There’s another downside to booking this Google Flights itinerary worth mentioning, though: You need to book the five separate tickets individually. Some travelers may be more than happy to pay the $85 difference with Kiwi to get all of their tickets at once (and only have to enter all of their data one time instead of five).

Protections aren’t reliable without paying extra

Another critical aspect to note is that the Kiwi flight booking service no longer protects your flight connections without the purchase of Kiwi.com Guarantee.

Say your Kiwi itinerary books you on a Spirit Airlines flight to connect to a low-cost United flight to Europe. If Spirit cancels your flight and you miss your United flight, United has no obligation to rebook you on a later flight. In United's eyes, you simply missed your flight.

You have the option to protect all of your connections by purchasing the Kiwi.com Guarantee at checkout. You'll have to decide for yourself if the price (which varies by flight) is worth it for you — or if you want to risk dealing with any issues on your own.

Key takeaways of our Kiwi review

Kiwi is a tool for finding unique and cheap flight pairings and other ways to cut the cost of transportation when traveling. You can use Kiwi to save hundreds of dollars on flights and other transit, get where you need to go fast or book complex multi-city itineraries.

However, you'll want to carefully consider the risks of booking flights with different airlines as well as their sub-par customer reviews. When booking through Kiwi, you are essentially booking separate tickets with different airlines — and Kiwi doesn't automatically protect you in the case of cancellations or delays. You can add the Kiwi.com Guarantee at checkout to reduce your risk, but this extra cost can eat into the overall price savings.


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