One of the quickest and best flight search engines is Google Flights. In a matter of seconds, you can find some of the cheapest flights for your travel dates and reserve your flights directly from the carrier. What many people don’t realize is Google retrieves their data from its powerful ITA Matrix database. These are a few Gooogle Flights tips and tricks that you can use to help find a sweet deal for your next trip.
1. Receive Fare Price Alerts
When you have an itinerary in mind and are still waiting to make the purchase, Google Flights will let you receive price alerts on your phone or delivered to your Gmail account.
Tip: Remember to purchase your airfare with a rewards credit card that has a category bonus for airline purchases. For example, you can earn 5x with the Amex Platinum card or 2x on the lower annual fee Chase Sapphire Preferred.
Using predictive algorithms that analyze previous price trends, Google Flights will flash a red box showing how much the fare increase will likely be and how soon it can happen.
These alerts don’t come up on every route, but, they can be extremely helpful. You will receive these alerts when you browse and also after you choose to track flight prices.
The price alert will also notify when Google Flights thinks ticket prices will drop. When that happens, you will see a green box with the predicted savings amount.
2. Track Flight Price Trends
Another cool Google Flights tip is the ability to track historical prices. Google will send alerts when it predicts prices will increase or decrease. With this second tip, you can track historical prices yourself for flights that you tell Google to monitor.
This trick can be useful if you like to fly the same route periodically for business or pleasure. To get started, simply choose the flight itinerary you want Google to track by clicking the “Track Price” button before you choose a departing flight to track the average fare price or after you select the arrival and departure flights to track the price of a specific itinerary.
Each day, Google will update the price trends with a rolling line graph in the Tracked Prices menu. Until the flight takes off, Google will continue to send you price predictions. And, you can use the graph to determine your purchase timing for future flights to try and predict your own price dip.
3. Explore Map
A fan favorite Google Flights tip and trick is the “I’m Feeling Lucky” button on the Explore Map option. If you have some flexibility in your departure or destination, the Explore Map feature is an easy way to quickly get a birdseye view of flight prices.
When you want to figuratively throw darts at the map, click the I’m Feeling Lucky button and Google will choose a place it thinks you will enjoy. You can refine the search by typing in keywords like Europe, Spain, Asia, etc. If you don’t like their suggestions, just keep clicking the button.
4. Flexible Travel Dates
One really nice feature about using Google Flights is their popup calendar that displays the daily prices if you have flexible travel dates. It will show up when you click the departure or arrival dates. After choosing the dates you want, Google will then proceed to show you the cheapest flight prices.
5. Google Tips
When possible, Google will also try to make suggestions on ways you can save money. For example, on a flight from Atlanta to Portugal, Google says you can save $48 by flying into Madrid. If you don’t have a strong preference for visiting Lisbon (this trip) or plan to visit both, this could be helpful.
Google Flights will also make other suggestions like showing how first-class seats might not be as expensive as you think and even tell you if the flight can be cheaper if you book it a few days earlier or later.
6. Best Flights
Every travel portal has their own version of this, but, this Google Flights tip can still save you money and time. For each search, Google will recommend two or three different flights that are cheap, have decent flight times, the number of stops, and incidental fees like checked bags and amenities.
These flights aren’t always the cheapest, but, they are pretty close. You can also continue to scroll beneath the Best Flights suggestions to choose an alternative flight or carrier.
The one large downside to Google Flights and every travel search engine is they don’t have access to Southwest and some other low-cost airline’s ticket prices which can be lower than Google’s search results.
7. Filter by Carrier or Airport
Another way you can quickly find the flights you want is to include or exclude specific carriers and airports. To do this, you click the “Airline” or “More” drop-down menus located underneath the dates on the flight search tab. A green box will show results from that airline, alliance, or airport. A red box will hide the results.
Searching by alliance can be really useful as other search engines require you to select each carrier individually.
8. Discover Destinations
Another way you can search and still “see the big picture” is with the Discover Destinations function. This box is located beneath the flight search field on the Google Flights homepage.
Information that you enter into the flight’s search box including travel dates, desired carriers, and your spending limit will automatically update the price point information on the Discover Destinations map.
You can further customize Discover Destinations by clicking the dates, places, and interests buttons located immediately underneath the Discover Destinations title. Google will show destinations with the average fare price next to each city name.
In addition to the map, there will also be pictures and prices of more distant locations that might not appear on the map unless you zoom out. To see more flight information at these recommended destinations, simply click on the city name on the map or the information boxes.
Summary on Google Flights
Google Flights does a great job at crunching ITA Matrix software data to quickly find you all the different flight combinations. What many people don’t realize is you don’t need to go to Google Flights when you are ready to buy a ticket. It’s a great way to brainstorm your next vacation and to also monitor prices for when you plan to reserve a ticket in the near future.
For the past 20 years, Johnny Jet averaged 150,000 miles and 20 countries a year. He has been featured in many major publications and have appeared on ABC, CBS, CNBC, CNN, FOX, MSNBC, NBC and PBS.