What is the best flight API to integrate?
It depends. There’s no single best flight API. Your choice depends on the specific problem you’re trying to solve (e.g. enable flight and fare search, or track flight status with departure and arrival times, or enable flight booking). Generally, there are two basic options: source data from global distribution systems (or GDSs, the major, worldwide flight aggregators) or directly from airlines. In some cases, you can check APIs by tech providers like FlightStats.
If you need the widest airline coverage and you want to implement flight booking, check GDS APIs by Sabre, Travelport, and Amadeus. Each of them covers about 400 active airlines. They search for flights and low fares, and do booking and ticketing. The problem with this approach is that some airlines like Lufthansa set surcharges for booking through GDSs because they want to encourage direct booking or direct cooperation with resellers.
So, the option is to integrate and partner directly with each airline you need. That, however, presents an even larger number of problems as there are only about 40 airlines that have standardized XML-based APIs and each of them is slightly different. So, the engineering effort may be enormous. On the bright side, with direct connections, you get the widest ancillary booking support, seat selection, baggage customization options, etc. The most balanced approach to flight search and booking is to combine GDSs with some direct integrations.
If your goal is general info without booking capabilities, you may not need GDS or direct integration. The first place to go for fresh flight fare data is ATPCO, the main fare distribution provider. The largest pool for timetables, routes, and connections is provided by Innovata, a travel tech company. Also check FlightStats and Flightradar24 for flight and airport details like delay indexes, arrivals and departures, aircraft equipment, airport FIDS, flight status, etc.
If you need something simple and don’t want to go through raw airline data, you may contact OTAs or metasearch platforms to integrate their APIs. The key provider here is Skyscanner, but also consider Expedia or Kiwi.
For more details, have a look at our travel API’s articles.
I would recommend to check HitchHiker’s Flight API, because it provides access to all major GDS like Amadeus, Travelport and Sabre. Furthermore it offers direct connections to a great number of low-cost and full-service carriers.
Hi! I was also looking for one and I am glad I came across this post. We’re on a tight budget as the team and a few leading providers were kinda off our limits. Though we recently started working with a provider called Aviation Edge for the flight search feature of our tool. The number one reason we wanted to give them a shot was that they have a reduced price offer for the first month so we were able to test the data for 5 bucks only.
We haven’t had any discrepancies with the data or access to it overall. Several airlines are a must for us and the data fully covers those, at least. Haven’t had any downtimes and the integration has also been quite smooth. I was informed our API key allows access to both live flight data and data pools for airlines, airplanes, routes, cities, airport etc. We don’t need those for now but having them as extra is a plus.
I’d say why go with expensive options when this also is a pretty good option. The only downside is that they have live data only when it comes to flights and not historical or future. We’re now saving the data on our end to analyze it as historical data in the future but I wish we had access to flights of 1 or 2 years’ prior or into the future. It’s fine though.
Hope our little experience helps you!
Link for you to see their scope of data: https://aviation-edge.com/premium-api/