skyscanner apis

Free APIs that travel startups should consider when building any search product

Many startups have joined the list of hundreds of companies that use data feeds from Skyscanner, the UK-based metasearch giant.

Skyscanner, which says it has more than 50 million unique monthly visitors, stands apart from most giant travel companies by providing access to its application programming interfaces (APIs) to developers for free.

Hitlist, a trip-inspiration app, has been using its APIs for a couple of years. Go Euro, the multi-modal European metasearch, uses the APIs as a back-fill. Pintrips, a fare-comparison tool, has used the APIs, too. Hellotrip, SeeUSoon, and Tripaya as well.

lucky trip travel app API

Lucky Trip

The newest travel startup to use its APIs is Lucky Trip, an iOS app where the user basically says, “This is my budget, where’s can I go?” and with a single click gets options from the UK to up to 300 European destinations in a visually-oriented interface.

The app was launched a few weeks ago, and has been featured prominently in the UK Apple App store.

But it was back in December 2014 that CEO Tiff Burns and his brother and co-founder Alex Burns contacted Skyscanner for access to its flight data to sketch a prototype. Burns says:

“The technology behind the Skyscanner API is way ahead of anything else out there. We really like the ‘browse cache’ functionality which works super fast. The data structure is easy to work with, and there are some cool technical features that no other flight API offered.

“The Skyscanner API allows us to provide the cheapest flight prices from all possible origins in the UK to all of our destinations in Europe.”


APIs at the right price

The startups come to Skyscanner for API keys because it’s the rare free option. If you Google “free API search for flights”, Skyscanner is the lone one mentioned.

Developers have to ask the company for separate API keys for air content, hotels, and car hire/rental through the Skyscanner for Business division.

Free (with reasonable restrictions on use) differentiates Skyscanner from other data providers. If you wanted to create a flight search engine or an agency, using data from the few global distribution systems (GDSs) would cost more than the typical startup can manage just for the search.

Second, data feeds from GDSs don’t have deep linking to specific fares, and you need to be an agent to build a business around it. Skyscanner’s APIs offer deep-linking, so you can send your users directly into the site of its travel partners, without being an agent.

So, what’s in it for Skyscanner?

Well, for one thing, once companies reach a certain threshold of usage, Skyscanner requires a revenue-share deal. The revenue share incentivizes startups and companies to reinvest the money in the product, such as in additional marketing to drive more usage.

Filip Filipov, director of B2B at Skyscanner, said by phone:

“We want to support and spur on early-stage companies that are thinking of different ways that flight and hotel and car hire information can be done. We want to give developers the tools that will make them successful….”

“Our supply partners — airlines, agencies, hotel leaders and car hire companies — also benefit from the additional traffic, and alternate sources of traffic…. That’s a way for Skyscanner to increase our revenue as a whole as well.”

The Edinburgh-based company says it has 1,200 companies using its APIs, for redistributing content for flights, hotels, and car hire. The company says that its system optimizes the data calls, and that the optimization boosts the conversion rates and reduces empty hits on its partner suppliers’ APIs.

It also claims that its APIs can provide a developer a better breadth of results than the search engine connectivity rivals provide because it has more extensive direct relationships with agents, resellers, and suppliers (such as hoteliers, car hire franchises) and thus access to great breadth of localized content. In Russia, will see the Russian agencies in results; in China, you will see the Chinese ones.

Not an overnight process

Skyscanner doesn’t hand over API keys instantly. There is a turnaround time, because employees have to vet that the startup is legitimate and must generate the keys. (The company is considering releasing a self-service solution to give automatic access.)

The vetting is to make sure startups don’t abuse the API by driving unqualified traffic or generating a lot of empty requests. That’s also the explanation for the limit on how many calls startups are allowed to make, and caps on how many requests can be made per second. Says Filipov:

“Inexperienced startups might consider a solution that sometimes generates way too many requests for the return that comes back. We put that rate limit in with the idea that we want developers to experiment with what they need to do in order to prove the concept of an application or a website, but not tax the systems of our partners.”

Filipov says the resulting projects can be inspiring.

“We definitely take a look at the different implementations of our API. Honestly we’ve had a wide range….

“Lucky Trip is a great example of a standalone app that is very focused on inspirational discovery, on taking the intimidation factor out of booking a short trip, which could absolutely live on it’s own.

“It’s really beautiful, you know, how those people come in without any restrictions and limitations and biases of how the industry works. They can create fantastic work. We’ve seen 15 or 20 examples of that from different developers….

“I hate to admit it but I probably have enough biases on my own to say, ‘Oh, this is never going to work out.’ And developers go ahead and do things and it has broad appeal, proving me wrong… “

Request access to Skyscanner’s APIs

Related: Five travel APIs to beef up website user experience

If you’re a developer in New York City, Tnooz is running a hackathon in Manhattan on November 13, 14 and 15. It’s free for developers; there are prizes, and headline sponsors are Priceline, Sabre, Fareportal, and IBM. Click here to learn more about THack NYC.

For a non-technical view of this story’s topic, read: How booking APIs are changing the online travel game

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Sean O'Neill

About the Writer :: Sean O'Neill

Sean O’Neill had roles as a reporter and editor-in-chief at Tnooz between July 2012 and January 2017.



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  1. Rijo Cherian

    Need white label API for Flight ticket, hotels,bus ticket

  2. topbest101

    Nice post. Thanks for sharing that skyscanner is providing APIs free of cost.

  3. The Basetrip

    Great article Sean! We at The Basetrip are using Skyscanner API in conjunction with our own Country & city travel information API to provide the best experience possible.

  4. Monika

    I am developer, i need API for flight, tours,hotels, car for middle east region, client looking for free API, this for Travel agency main role of agents,subagents. Can skyscanner full fill all the requirements, Please reply ASAP. Thanks

    • Rahim

      i also have same question , if you get an answer plz let me know also , thank you

  5. Alex

    I wasn’t aware of skyscanner is providing APIs free of cost. Its amazing for startups. thanks Sean O’Neill for sharing this informative article.

  6. Malik Khan

    Hi Skyscanner
    I am owning a startup company and the website is almost ready to go live. we like to provide online hotels booking and reservation. we are based in UK but like to offer our services cross the world. we are interested in calibration with you to use your APIs as provided for free. please can you help us to understand the process to obtain your APIs and the criteria for uninterrupted web service access.
    Thank You

  7. Ranjith Gopalakrishnan

    Hi Skyscanner,
    I am owning a startup company, and the website is not live yet. I am planning to provide live flight status services, live flight ticket comparison services and ticket itinerary advisory services in my website. I heard about skyscanner, and I am interested to partnership with you as APIs are provided for free.
    Please help me understand the process to obtain API keys such as eligibility, restrictions and criteria for uninterrupted web service access.
    Also how long will it take to complete formalities and get things live?
    Thank you.

  8. Saeed Younesi

    Thanks for mentioning!

    I can verify that the collaboration with SkyScanner is very good. We use them for the core functionality to find all flights from A to B. We then add our price prediction technology for flights on top of their platform via their API.
    We have spent 3 years working on this technology and thanks to Skyscanner’s API we can focus on our price prediction technology, which predicts the chance of an increase or decrease in the next 14 days of specific flight. We don’t need to worry about the core functionality of finding as many flights as possible and can continue building our own technology instead!
    Great stuff from SkyScanner.

    P.S; in case you are wondering wich routes we support with our price prediction technology have a look here

  9. Matt Zito

    Great to see Skyscanner supporting the travel tech startup community! Its a win-win for both sides.

  10. Valentin Dombrovsky

    2.5 years later we continue our 5 APIs series… 🙂

    Thank you for the article, Sean!

    • Sean O'Neill

      Sean O'Neill

      How could I have forgotten?! I’ve added a link to the bottom of the article.

      • Valentin Dombrovsky

        Well, surprisingly almost all APIs mentioned there are still working and available for the use. Dealangel is the only exception.
        And I’d rather recommend Uber API instead of InKnowledge today.

        Thank you for including the link. 🙂

  11. Evan Davies

    Great article, I had no idea Skyscanner did this!


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