August 6, 2018

Google Flights 101: Your Guide to Google Flights for Cheap Travel

If you’re a travel aficionado, you’ve probably heard of Google Flights. But even if you haven’t, it should definitely be on your radar when searching for the best cheap flights. The reason being, its ease of use and its plethora of features that make finding the flight you desire that much simpler.

Google Flights is a tool that when wielded correctly reaps amazing results for the prospective traveler. And with the rollout of new features the flight search engine has to offer, Google Flights is now even better than ever. Not sure how to use it? Read on to learn the keys behind finding the cheapest flights out there.

How To Use Google Flights

Set Up Your Departure Locations/Arrival Destinations On Google Flights

Log onto the Google Flights homepage. At the top of the page, enter your desired locations inside the boxes indicated as “Where from?” and “Where to?” respectively. Also, enter your prospective dates you plan to travel.

Keep in mind that you are allowed to enter as many as seven airports in each box (just separate them by commas). Flexibility is key. An example of this would look like entering the airport codes for several countries in your “Where to?” search box.

So, if you wanted to leave Atlanta and visit West Africa, you could be flexible with your destination by listing several airport codes (in this case: LAD, GBE, CAI, LXR, ADD, ACC) to see which flights are cheapest between Angola, Botswana, Egypt (Cairo and Luxor), Ethiopia, and Ghana. When you’re flexible, your opportunities are virtually endless.

Filter Your Flight Results On Google Flights

Arguably the search engine’s most helpful feature is the fact that you can set and apply a plethora of different filters to help you select the perfect cheap flight deal based on your preferences. These filters are located underneath the date boxes on the righthand side and include layover duration, number of stops, connecting airports, price ceiling, flight times, duration of flights, airlines, etc.

Select Your Travel Dates On Google Flights

Once you click the box for departure dates, a calendar showing the current month and the next month will appear. Prices will be listed underneath each corresponding date; the cheapest dates are highlighted across the calendar in green.

Trust us, the prices you see aren’t the only ones available and probably aren’t the cheapest ones either. Expand your horizons by clicking the arrow next to the calendar to observe the prices in later months. Sometimes a destination is closer to $1,000 within the first couple of months listed, but when you expand your search to four months ahead, that price can easily be a fraction of the one given.

Pro Tip: What’s great about Google Flights is that it searches airfare prices on almost all the airline websites out there and large online travel agencies (Priceline, Orbitz, Travelocity, etc). What’s not so great is that sometimes the cheapest flights are missed because Google Flights doesn’t check smaller online travel agencies where this is more common. In instances like those, check out Momondo  in tandem with Google Flights to ensure that you are getting the best deals possible.

When you’re pleased with your research and the dates you have in mind, click the date for your departure. Then, select the date for your return flight. From there, Google Flights will display a list of flights available for those dates.

Google Flights
Other departing flights

The list is separated into two categories: “Best departing flights” and “Other departing flights.” Feel free to check out both sections to ensure the flight has the best price as well as the routing you want.

Book Your Flight(s) On Google Flights

Select the departing flight that you want. Once you do, the site’s interface will change to reflect “Best returning flights” and “Other returning flights” corresponding with the departing flight you previously selected.

Pro Tip: If you wish to go back to your departure flight to select a different flight, do so by clicking towards the upper left side of the page where the code for your initial flight is listed. After that, you’ll be able to change your flight on the previous page.

The prices that are given reflect the cost of the entire roundtrip you’ve selected, taxes included. When you select your return flight, your booking options will look like this:

Next, select which place you’d like to book the flight through from that list of options. After you do that, you will be redirected to the booking site’s checkout page, which will walk you through how to enter your payment and passenger information.

Troubleshooting: How Do You Book Cheap Flights Through Google Flights If They Disappear?

It doesn’t always happen but sometimes, cheap flights will disappear when you try to book despite Google Flights saying that it’s there. By “disappear”, we mean cheap flights increase in price (either during the search or at the time of booking) or you’re just unable to locate the flight anymore at all.

When this happens, unfortunately, the flight you were looking at can no longer be booked at the cheap fare you originally saw it available as. If you’d like to try to salvage your cheap flight deal, check your dates and your route info and see if you can book the flight through sites like Momondo or Priceline.

Bonus: Access The Hidden Map View On Google Flights

Another impressive feature of Google Flights is the hidden map that you can pull up and view cheap flights all over a specific region (this can be by country or continent). In order to access this feature, click the three lines that are located on the upper righthand corner of the page, next to the words “Google Flights.” When you do that, it will switch over to map view.

You can either zoom into places or type in destinations into the boxes like you were before. The map view offers a more expansive look of the different price points locations have to offer. Be sure to tweak your dates to reflect flexibility by selecting “Flexible dates” and expand your reach even further.

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