Google Flights is a powerful engine that can provide frugal travelers with all the right tools to book a dream trip. Globetrotters who can master the engine’s techniques can act as their own travel agents and book the best flights in a flash.
Select Specific Dates
Google Flights is especially helpful for those who are flexible with their travel dates. The engine displays prices for every day of every month for the next year, so there’s no need to perform a separate search for each desired date, which saves a lot of time.
In this instance, I searched for transcontinental flights between Los Angeles and New York in March. The calendar shows the cheapest fares in green. It is also possible to look at all available fares within a specific week of travel by selecting Flexible Dates. A table pops up that shows options for both departure and return, again coding the cheapest fares in green and the most expensive ones in red.
This feature is perfect for someone whose bucket list of travel destinations is longer than War and Peace. If you let cheap fares dictate your next trip, check out Discover Destinations. You can select a date range and then choose from North America, South America, Africa, Europe, Asia and Oceania. Google Flights brings up a map of the chosen region as well as options to specific cities.
For example, I chose a one-week trip in April and selected Europe as my desired region. Looks like Amsterdam, London and Paris are a bit pricey to reach at the moment, but Berlin, Frankfurt and Istanbul are on sale! This particular feature helps travelers who want to visit countries in no particular order decide where to go next.
Use Airport/Date/Cabin Tips
Say, you’re searching for a flight to a specific European city but still flexible on a destination. Once on Goggle Flights, choose the dates and enter the airport codes. Not only does the search engine check for the best prices in your date range, plus or minus three days, but also it searches for the best options for nearby airports.
In this example, I entered Salt Lake City and Paris into departure and destination fields, respectively, and the cheapest option came to $847 for a round-trip flight in April. The tip bar suggested flying to Brussels instead—which is only one and a half hour away from Paris by train—and saving $440. In this case, the tip bar slashed the airfare in half! Sometimes a tip bar suggests different departure or return dates for better fares, cabin selections, times and airlines.
Sign Up for Fare Alerts and Track Prices
Once you choose specific destination and dates for a trip, you will have an option to book the trip, share it via email, Facebook, Twitter or Google+, or track the price. Once the feature is turned on, Google will monitor the itinerary and send you an email with any significant price changes and travel tips for the specific destination.
Also, a recently added feature now predicts whether a fare will expire soon. Once the flights are chosen, the feature also suggest what the price would be after it expires. This feature only applies to fares that are expiring, which means it is not available on all searches.
To use this feature, you must specify travel dates before clicking on the map. Once the map is visible, click on the “I’m Feeling Lucky” button to the right of the search, and the engine will select a random destination for you.
In this search, Google Flights decided I’m going to Denver in March. Not exactly a dream trip destination, but $97 for a round-trip flight is hard to beat.
I’ve used many online travel agency websites in my day, but Google Flights takes flight searching to the next level. Although I would still consult with alternative sources, such as Kayak or Orbitz, before booking a revenue flight, Google Flights is my go-to engine because of its unique features, fast response and a user-friendly interface.
Have you used Google Flights to search for airfare? What features do you like to utilize?
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