Google Flights is a free service from Google that helps you find and track flights. With Google Flights, you can find flights for specific destinations and dates, as well as track prices for your searches, and explore new destinations from a certain city or airport.
When you first open Google Flights, you will have to enter your departure airport or city, destination, and the dates. You can easily change these as you search, so don’t worry if you aren’t sure when or where you want to fly, but you need to start with airports and dates.
Google Flights is best for finding flights for specific dates and destinations. If you want to find cheap flights and are flexible with when and where you go, a few other services will work better for you.
There are two cheap flight tracking services that you can use: Matt’s Flights and Scott’s Cheap Flights. One will likely be better than the other depending on where you are flying from, if you want to pay for a premium membership, and what destinations you want flight alerts for, so make sure to read about each one.
How to Use Google Flights
To start a search on Google Flights, all you have to do is enter your departure and arrival airports or cities and your dates. Then you can search for flights, and from there, you can use many helpful features to find the best flights for you.
When you search for flights, you can choose one-way flights, round-trip flights, or multi-city flights. Multi-city flights allow you to have a different departure and arrival airport for each leg of your trip. You can also choose how many people you want to book tickets for, so the prices shown will be the total for your group. Finally, you can select the flight class, including economy, premium economy, business, and first-class.
Once you enter your search, you will see a list of flights, and the ones that Google considers the best based on price, times, and duration will be at the top. You can change the order to sort by price, duration, departure time, or arrival time. When you find a flight you like, you can select it, and you can see a list of where to book your flights, including the airline’s site, budget flight sites, and airline partner sites.
Additionally, when you enter a departure or destination, you can select an entire city instead of a single airport. For example, if you want to fly to New York City, you can just enter NYC, and it will show you flights to Newark, LaGuardia, and JFK. Selecting an entire city helps you find the best flights if you can be flexible with your airports since most major cities have multiple airports.
Google Flight’s Search Features
If you do not see flights that you like and want to find a lower price, there are two features that you can use to find cheaper flights on different dates. First is the “Data Grid” feature. This feature has a grid with departure and arrival dates on the top and side, with prices in the intersections. You can use this to see if changing your dates in a few days could save you money.
The second is the price graph feature. The price graph shows you a graph with your departure date on the bottom, and each bar shown is the price for a certain length of the trip leaving on that date. For example, if you want to take a 6-day trip to your selected destination, you can see a whole month’s worth of prices for 6-day long trips based on the departure date. You can easily change your trip duration to be longer or shorter, and the graph will adjust.
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Filter Your Flight Search
When you book a flight, you may want to find one that leaves at a certain time of day. Or maybe you want to avoid long layovers or only fly nonstop. With Google Flights, there are a lot of filters you can use to find the best flights.
- Stops: You can choose from nonstop, one-stop or less, and two stops or less. The fewer steps you have when you travel, the less time you will have to spend flying, and the less hassle you will have to spend trying to navigate airports.
- Airlines: You can filter by airline or choose an airline alliance, so you only see flights on the alliance’s airlines.
- Bags: Some basic tickets or budget airlines do not have bags included in their ticket price. If you want to make sure bags are included, either checked or carry-on, you can choose how many bags you need, and the prices shown will reflect that.
- Price: Looking for cheap flights? You can choose your maximum price point for your search, so you aren’t spending too much.
- Times: If you like to fly at a certain time of day or don’t want to arrive at your destination in the middle of the night, you can filter your search by times for both arrival and departure. If you fly round-trip or multi-city, you can choose different times for each flight.
- Connecting Airports: If you want to have layovers in a certain airport or avoid others, you can select or deselect any airports. You can also filter your layover duration with this filter.
- Duration: Use this filter to choose the maximum duration you want to be flying from your first flight’s departure time to your final arrival time. Each leg of your trip will be considered separately in this filter.
How to Track Flights
When you search, Google Flights will let you know if prices for your flights are currently low, high, or typical for your dates. If your flights are low, you may want to book soon. But, if your flight prices are high or even typical, and you have some time to book your flights, you may want to wait.
Waiting to book your flights is easy with Google Flights’ price tracking feature. Once you have a search open that you want to book, including any filters like times and airlines turned on, you can select the “track prices” option at the top of the page.
You will need to sign in to a Google account to activate this feature. Once you sign in and select “track flights,” you will automatically receive emails from Google whenever your flights have a price change, whether it is an increase or decrease.
This feature is very helpful when you have a while to book flights and can wait for a price decrease, or if you want to fly somewhere, but only if flight prices fall under a certain point. Ensure to check your email daily if you are tracking prices, as Google usually emails any changes in the morning.
You can turn on flight tracking for multiple flights and searches, and each day Google includes all the changes in a single email. You can easily turn off any tracked prices and see what flight prices you are tracking by clicking the three lines at the top left of the page and selecting Tracked Flight Prices.
How to Explore Destinations
You can use one feature on Google Flights if you do not have a destination or date in mind called “Explore.” All you need to enter on the explore page is your departure airport or city, and Google will help you find a place to go.
When you first enter your departure, Google Flights will show you a map and a list of suggested locations within your country with prices. You can move the map around to explore destinations around the world. The prices shown will be for the cheapest rates, but you can change this.
When you click the dates box, you can choose specific dates or try flexible dates. This feature allows you to choose a specific month or all months, and the prices will be for the cheapest days based on what you selected. You can also choose a general trip length, including a weekend, one week, or two weeks.
When you select a destination that looks interesting, you will see an overview of the best flights, hotel prices for a few recommended hotels, and a destination guide. The destination guide includes:
- Weather and the best time to visit
- The top places to visit
- Common questions that people Google related to the destination.
This feature is nice if you know when you want to travel but not where. Or if you have a specific destination in mind but don’t care when you go or only want to go during a specific month.
Google Flights is a great search engine to use when you have a good idea of when and where you want to travel. You can use many features to find the best flights, such as nonstop flights, short flights, and specific times to leave and arrive.
If you are flexible with your dates by a few days, you can see which days are best to save money, and there is an easy-to-use explore feature if you have flexible dates or destinations. However, if you are looking specifically for cheap flights to anywhere, there are better services available.