Airflow vs Luigi: Our 5 Key Differences

  1. Usability: Luigi's API is more minimal than Airflow's. New users might find it difficult to use. 

  2. Scalability: Airflow is easier to scale than Luigi

  3. Popularity: Both tools have a loyal user base. However, Airflow has a bigger community. 

  4. Scheduling: Airflow has no calendar scheduling. Users can't run tasks independently in Luigi

  5. Reviews: Airflow and Luigi reviews are generally positive. Luigi users ranked "ease of use" low.

Despite the pandemic situation slowing the market growth of data integration software, reliable data management tools are very much in high demand. Businesses need access to data from ever-more disparate systems and SaaS, and effective tools to help them achieve this. Apache Airflow and Luigi are two options that offer workflow management via data pipeline creation. Basically, both of these tools move data from point A to point B quickly. But which one is better? Welcome to our Airflow vs. Luigi explainer, exploring which is the best ETL tool and what the differences are - and why could be a better option all around for data integration.

Table of Contents

  1. Airflow vs. Luigi: Features and Benefits 

  2. Airflow vs. Luigi: Pricing

  3. Airflow vs. Luigi: Reviews

  4. Why You Should Try 

Airflow vs. Luigi: Features and Benefits 

Airflow vs. Luigi: Details

Before we compare features and benefits, let's take a closer look at these two workflow tools. It might seem like Airflow and Luigi do the same thing in terms of data processing, but they serve slightly different purposes:

  • Airflow is a workflow scheduler created by travel accommodation experts Airbnb, specifically for authoring, scheduling, and monitoring data pipelines to various business sources. It runs using the programming language Python, became an Apache Incubator project in 2016, and a Top-Level Apache Software Foundation project in 2019. Because of this, it's now called Apache Airflow

  • Luigi is a Python package or module designed for handling complex workflows, batch jobs, and visualizations for managing multiple pipelines. These pipelines collate data into a single destination ready for data analysis by tools such as Apache Hive.

Although Airflow and Luigi have slightly different functions, they share many features:

  • Both tools use Python.

  • Both use a single node for a directed graph.

  • Both use data-structure standards.

  • Both allow users to define tasks, commands, and conditional paths of data flow.

  • Both allow users to visualize data pipelines

  • Both are open-source which means they’re freely available to developers.

For now, let's dive deeper into the differences between Airflow and Luigi

Airflow vs. Luigi: Usability 

Airflow and Luigi both have pros and cons when it comes to usability. For example, there's no calendar scheduling in Airflow. The central scheduler schedules tasks instead. However, users can run tasks independently whenever they like with the Scheduler feature. Luigi, on the other hand, has a central scheduler and custom calendar schedule capabilities, providing users with lots of flexibility. This could be seen as a point in Luigi’s favor.

New users might struggle with Luigi's API, which is much more minimal than its rival, making it less intuitive for new users. It's just much easier to view task logs, code runs, and other data in Airflow. Plus, it’s surprisingly easy to "rerun" historical tasks. Luigi has all this information too, but you need to dig deeper to find it. Once you are familiar with the API, however, you can create highly complex dependencies without breaking a sweat. 

Next, let's talk about directed acyclical graphs (DAGs): Airflow lets users view multiple DAG tasks before pipeline execution. Luigi doesn't. For companies that depend on DAGs to prevent bad data from entering their ecosystems, this is an important difference. Essentially, in Luigi, you don't know what code is running in corresponding tasks until much later on in the process. 

Struggling with coding your own pipelines?’s low-code environment makes it simple to create integrations to multiple business SaaS and other services.

Airflow vs. Luigi: Scalability

Because Airflow has the Scheduler feature, users can separate tasks from crons, which makes everything easy to scale. Luigi, however, doesn't offer the same scalability benefits. This is because users have to split tasks into various sub-pipelines, which is a long and laborious process. There's no way to rerun pipelines in Luigi either.

There are two main scalability issues in Luigi:

  • Tasks are so tightly coupled to cron jobs that scalability is difficult.

  • The number of cron workers working on the job limits the number of worker processes.

These problems might not affect all businesses. However, many will find scalability in Luigi a challenge. Talk to about an integration platform that scales up and down as you need it, effortlessly.

Airflow vs. Luigi: Popularity 

The most popular ETL tools aren't always the best ones. However, popular workflow tools have bigger communities, which can make it easier to access user-support features, including tutorials or GitHub repositories.

Both Airflow and Luigi have developed loyal user bases over the years and established themselves as reputable workflow tools:

  • Airbnb created Airflow in 2014.

  • Spotify created Luigi in 2012.

However, Airflow has a much larger community, and users have developed service-level agreements, trigger rules, and other perks. You won't find these in Luigi

Many famous companies use these tools:

  • Robinhood, Square, 9GAG, and Walmart use Airflow.

  • Stripe, Giphy, Tapingo, and Foursquare use Luigi

Airflow vs. Luigi: Pricing

The good news is that both Airflow and Luigi use open-source, which means they are completely free. But there are some caveats. 

Open-source workflow tools like Airflow and Luigi are low-cost alternatives to commercial (or proprietary) tools. However, many of them have scalability and performance issues that won't suit some businesses. As we already mentioned, Luigi lacks the scalability capabilities many businesses require for workflow management. You might not notice its limitations until you start running multiple tasks and by this point, it could be too late. 

Another example is the lack of calendar scheduling on Airflow. While this won’t affect all businesses, you might find this a hindrance to your automation efforts. Plus, visualizations on both Airflow and Luigi are rather limited. 

In many cases, paying for an industry-leading ETL platform like is well worth the investment. 

Airflow vs. Luigi: Reviews

This section focuses on what users think of these two platforms and how well they work for business data integration.

Airflow Reviews

Airflow has an average rating of 4.3 out of 5 stars on the popular technology review website G2, based on 35 customer reviews (as of April 2022). 

Nikita K., a data science engineer, says that Apache Airflow is:

“A very handy tool for someone working in ETL & data engineering

Most Airflow reviews are generally positive. However, some criticisms include:

  • Users need to know the Python programming language. 

  • No drag-and-drop feature.

  • A lack of template options.

  • A "buggy" user interface.

One reviewer, a data analyst for a mid-market enterprise notes:

"One of the greatest challenge[s] is that the learning curve [can] be a little bit deep, and some of the functions…can be confusing…and once you have deployed the pipeline, it is difficult to make changes.”.

Luigi Reviews

Unfortunately, there are no Luigi reviews on G2. However, we can compare Airflow with reviews on the website Predictive Analytics Today, which evaluates many different platforms. 

Luigi has an average user rating of 7.9/10, a score which has fallen in the last two years, indicating that there are better, more comprehensive data integration platforms on the market, like

"Luigi takes care of a lot of workflow management so that users can focus on tasks themselves and their dependencies," says Predictive Analytics Today. 

It's also worth noting:

  • Luigi users only scored "ease of use" a 6.7. 

  • Users ranked “features and functionality” at only 7.3.

Consider your business data needs, and go with a feature-rich ETL platform like that’s low code with a shallow learning curve and a wealth of resources at your fingertips.

Airflow vs Luigi vs 

After comparing features, prices, and customer reviews, we think Airflow takes the edge over Luigi. However, both of these well-established tools are of use to data engineers and analysts with plenty of coding experience. Of course, there are limitations to both. Neither Airflow nor Luigi provides businesses with all the workflow management features they so often require, such as unlimited scalability and flexible scheduling

Consider investing in an ETL solution that provides you with more. is a new data integration, ETL, and ELT platform that gives you unparalleled insights into your workflows. Quickly build data pipelines to your data lake or cloud data warehouses, such as Snowflake or a data set repository like Hadoop, for a variety of use cases, in an intuitive, low-code environment. Pre-built integrations allow you to create these data pipelines with ease, while intelligent API management ensures you have access to every one of your data sources. Automation allows for fast, real-time change data capture (CDC) without constantly reloading historical data.

Schedule an intro call with and find out how investing in an innovative, cloud-based data integration solution capable of handling big data can boost your business insights today.