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Google Flights Guidelines: How To Find Cheap Flights

There are numerous search engines available for finding affordable flights, such as Kiwi, Skyscanner, Hopper, and popular online travel agencies like Priceline or Expedia. However, among all these options, Google Flights stands out as the superior choice, widely praised and talked about by everyone.

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By Eglė

Published: Jul 14, 2023 min read

Google Flights Guidelines: How To Find Cheap Flights

We wrote a lot about how to find affordable hotels on Bookinghow to use Google Hotels, and provided you with a flight booking guide for 2023. Nevertheless, it's worth highlighting the Google Flights search engine. Get ready to discover some of the most effective tips and tricks for securing your next flight at the lowest possible price. By the time you finish reading, you'll be convinced there's no need to rely on any other flight search engine again.

WHY GOOGLE FLIGHTS? 

Google's search engine differs from popular travel search engines like Expedia, Kayak, Orbitz, and Skyscanner. These platforms are known as online travel agencies (OTAs), where you can directly purchase flights, hotels, cruises, and other travel arrangements—however, Google functions as a comprehensive global distribution platform where airlines themselves publish their airfare. In addition, you can also find certain fares on major OTAs such as Expedia or Priceline. Essentially, it serves as a convenient one-stop shop for all your flight needs.

BULLET POINTS OF USING GOOGLE FLIGHTS

As it was mentioned before, Google Flights is not categorized as an online travel agency (OTA) like others, and that possesses distinct advantages that set it apart from other flight search engines:

  • Booking directly with the airline is almost always an option when using Google Flights. While you may come across alternatives to book through other websites, the importance of bypassing intermediaries when reserving flights cannot be overstated. Dealing with an airline agent is more comfortable than encountering subpar customer service from a small online travel agency. Trust me; it saves so much time. 
  • When it comes to displaying a comprehensive list of flights spanning several months, no other flight search engine rivals Google Flights. Google Flights offers a convenient and user-friendly calendar-based fare view, allowing you to assess the most cost-effective fares for your travel plans over the next 12 months. With its simple and intuitive interface, you can quickly navigate through the calendar and identify the dates with the lowest prices, enabling you to plan your trips with budget-friendly options in mind. This feature allows you to explore different timeframes and find the most economical opportunities for your desired flights throughout the year.
  • A standout feature offered by Google Flights is the capability to search across multiple airports simultaneously. This feature proves invaluable when seeking the most economical departure or arrival airport for international travel.
  • As you explore the platform, you'll encounter an array of unparalleled features and functions that allow you to customize your search results according to your preferences. You can filter out stops, select specific airlines and classes, check the carbon footprint, and check the average price median. This flexibility ensures you can find the flights you desire while avoiding those that don't meet your criteria.
  • You might notice how fast it works if you have tried Google Flights. It stands out as the fastest flight search engine, effortlessly presenting months' worth of fares within a fraction of a second.
  • With the Google Flights Explore map, you can easily identify the most affordable destinations to fly from your airport during your specified dates or date range. Personally, this is the key reason why I prefer using this flight engine rather than others. 

Google Flights Guidelines: How To Find Cheap Flights - RatePunk
CONS OF GOOGLE FLIGHTS

However, it's important to note that even with its strengths, Google Flights does have a few limitations:

  • While Google Flights is an excellent tool for finding affordable flights, it is important to note that it does not always offer the lowest fares available. While Google Flights primarily displays airfare directly from airlines, there are instances where other online travel agencies (OTAs) have negotiated special deals with carriers, offering deeply discounted flights that may not be available through Google Flights.
  • Google constantly updates the inventory of available flights, but occasionally there may be discrepancies with outdated pricing. This means you may come across a certain price on Google Flights only to encounter a higher fare when you click through to book directly with the airline.
  • Although most airlines are listed on Google Flights, a few Airlines choose not to display their fares on the platform ( Southwest, Air China, China Eastern, and Thai Airways) or other search engines.
  • And the most annoying thing about Google Flights is that occasionally, you may encounter situations where the platform displays a certain fare at a specific rate. Still, when you proceed to book, you may face one of two scenarios: (a) the fare suddenly increases in price, or (b) there is no option to book online, and instead, you are directed to contact the airline via phone (although this approach may not be successful). This occurrence is commonly referred to as "ghosting," it can happen on Google Flights when a fare was recently accessible but is no longer available.

BOOK A FLIGHT VIA GOOGLE FLIGHTS

You can start your search by visiting Google Flights on a smartphone web browser or desktop because there is no Google Flights app. The interface is user-friendly and straightforward. 

Located in the top left corner (represented by three dashes), the Menu on Google Flights provides convenient shortcuts to various features. These include Search Flights, Google Flights Explore, and Tracked Prices, allowing you to monitor flight price changes (more details on this later). Additionally, you can access your trip information for upcoming travels through Google Trips and even search for hotels. The Menu also offers the option to adjust settings such as country, language, and currency, allowing you to personalize your search experience based on your location and preferences.

Google Flights Guidelines: How To Find Cheap Flights Start - RatePunk
On the homepage of Google Flights, you'll find the Flight Search section, where you can input your travel details to initiate your flight search. Here, you have the flexibility to provide the following information:

Departure Airport: You can select up to seven different departure locations, allowing you to explore cheap flight options from multiple starting points.

Destination: Similarly, you can enter up to seven different destinations to discover flights to various locations.

Dates of Travel: Specify the dates or date range for your trip, helping Google Flights find the most suitable flight options for your preferred timeframe.

Type of Trip: Choose whether you require a round trip, one-way, or multi-city itinerary based on your travel needs.

Number of Passengers: Indicate the number of adults, children, infants in seats, and infants in laps who will be traveling, ensuring accurate search results for the appropriate passenger count.

Airline Class: Select the desired travel class from options like Economy, Premium Economy, Business Class, and First Class. Note that Google Flights doesn't offer a specific "Basic Economy" filter to exclude such fares from your results, but you can use a workaround to minimize the display of Basic Economy fares in your search.

FILTERS ARE ESSENTIAL IN GOOGLE FLIGHTS

When searching for a specific flight on Google Flights, you have the ability to apply various filters to refine your results. Here are the different filters you can utilize:

  • Airlines: Filter your search results to display flights from specific airlines or airline alliances such as SkyTeam, Star Alliance, and Oneworld. This is useful if you have airline loyalty or if you've been wanting to experience a particular five-star airline.
  • Bags: Use this feature to exclude budget carriers and basic economy fares. By adding a carry-on bag filter, you can ensure that basic economy fares that include free carry-on bags (e.g., Delta or American Airlines) will still be included in your results, while other airlines that don't offer free carry-on bags in basic economy, such as United or JetBlue, won't be displayed. This filter also helps eliminate most budget carriers like Spirit, Frontier, Allegiant, and Sun Country from your search results.
  • Price: Set a maximum price limit to find flights that fit your budget requirements.
  • Times: Specify preferred departure and arrival times to find flights that align with your schedule, whether you need to depart in the morning or arrive by a specific time
  • Stops: Choose the number of stops you prefer for your trip, including the option for nonstop flights only..
  • Emissions: Opt for greener flights by choosing to display only results with lower carbon emissions. This feature highlights Google's efforts to guide travelers towards more environmentally friendly options.
  • Connecting Airports: Select specific airports for your connections or exclude flights with excessively long layovers, providing more control over your travel itinerary.
  • Duration: Set a maximum flight duration that suits your preferences.
  • Eliminate flights on separate tickets: By accessing the "All filters" option and scrolling to the bottom, you can remove flights that involve separate airlines for departure and return, streamlining your search.

Additionally, Google Flights often displays the price differences between various fare classes, including basic economy or regular economy,, and sometimes even first-class fares. This information helps you compare and make informed decisions about the available options.

Google Flights Guidelines: How To Find Cheap Flights - washington- google shows flights classes RatePunk

BOOKING DIRECTLY VIA GOOGLE FLIGHTS <3

One of the main reasons I highly appreciate Google's flight search capabilities is the ability to book flight tickets directly with the airline, eliminating the need for an intermediary. After buying from another well-known flight search engine a few times, I decided to stop doing it because of the extra taxes and difficulties dealing with customer support. 

Unlike online travel agencies or third-party search engines such as Kayak, Expedia, or Priceline, Google Flights allows you to book directly with the airline of your choice. When you reach the final page of your search, you'll be seamlessly directed to the airline's website and other sites that may have the fares available. Simply clicking "Select," Google will guide you to the deal you just discovered, enabling you to book your flight directly with your preferred airline. It's a straightforward and efficient process that streamlines your booking experience.

GOLDEN HOUR OR THE CHEAPEST DAYS TO TRAVEL

Discovering the most affordable flights often revolves around flexibility, and Google Flights excels at simplifying the process of finding the cheapest travel days.

Google Flights Guidelines: How To Find Cheap Flights - BEST DATE TO TRAVEL - RatePunk

The journey begins with its intuitive calendar view, which provides a breakdown of flight costs over a two-month period. Dates highlighted in green immediately indicate the most budget-friendly options for flying.

But Google has taken its capabilities even further to assist you in identifying the cheapest travel dates. If adjusting your itinerary by just a day or two could result in significant savings, Google will promptly notify you with a helpful pop-up alert.

By clicking on the date grid, Google presents a convenient color-coded chart that highlights the most economical departure and return dates. Sometimes, even minor shifts in your travel dates can lead to savings of $42 or more. In other instances, these adjustments can translate into savings of hundreds of dollars.

With these enhanced features, Google Flights empowers you to make informed decisions regarding your travel dates, ensuring you find the best deals available for your desired itinerary.

GOOGLE FLIGHTS KNOWS IF IT IS A GOOD DEAL

Fight ticket prices differ based on many things, so it is hard to know if you will find a good deal. However, Google has the answer. One of the standout features we truly adore about this search engine is its ability to provide insightful comparisons between the flight price you've discovered and the average fares available. With its extensive database containing millions of individual fares, Google goes the extra mile to crunch the numbers on your behalf.

Simply scroll down after selecting a flight, and you'll see a useful chart that showcases how your price compares to the norm, in the case of this particular flight from Honolulu (HNL) to Sydney (SYD) and back, the displayed price is extremely lower than the average fare. This valuable information allows you to gauge the exceptional deal you've stumbled upon in comparison to the typical fares for the same route.

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and… Google Flights just walked an extra mile.  Among the recent additions to Google Flights, there is a remarkable feature that can alleviate concerns about potential price drops after booking - PRICE GUARANTEE. This powerful feature was officially introduced by Google in April 2023, following several months of testing. Its functionality is straightforward: If the prices for specific flights decrease after you've made your booking, Google will provide a refund for the price difference. It's as simple as that. It's important to note that the refunds are capped at $500 per year, ensuring a fair balance.

There is one huge BUT. The price guarantee option on Google Flights is not available for all fares. It is currently limited to flights departing from the U.S., primarily with airlines like Alaska Airlines, Hawaiian, and Spirit. To be eligible for a refund, you must book through the "Book on Google" checkout platform and have Google Pay set up as your payment method.

FINDING THE CHEAPEST FLIGHTS WITH EXPLORE FEATURE

Sometimes you don't know where you want to go next. And here comes in handy the Google Flights Explore feature. It's a great way to find the cheapest options when you don't prioritize any destination.

FINDING THE CHEAPEST FLIGHTS WITH EXPLORE FEATURE - RatePunk

If you want to navigate Google Flights Explore feature like a pro, I'll give you some tips:

  • Enter your departure city and choose a destination as specific or broad as you prefer. Whether it's Europe, Spain, United States, Australia or any other location, you can explore various options.
  • Select your travel dates or opt for flexible date guidelines.  Experiment with different dates, as prices can vary significantly. If you have specific dates in mind, you can search as far in advance as you like. For more flexibility, limit your search to flights within the next six months.
  • Explore different destinations and their corresponding prices by moving the map around.
  • When you come across a destination that catches your interest, click on the city's name and then click "View Flights." This action will populate the search information with flight options and additional details.
  • Pay attention to fares displayed in green. This indicates the lowest airfare available for the dates or duration you are considering, providing you with valuable insights into the most cost-effective options.

By following these tips, you can effectively utilize the Explore feature on Google Flights to discover exciting destinations and find the best flight deals. Once you try it, you won't stop traveling!

Jul 14, 2023

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