How to use google flights to find cheap flights

How to use google flights

Are you searching for the best deals on flights? Look no further than Google Flights. With its lightning-fast search engine, intuitive features, and comprehensive data, Google Flights is the go-to tool for finding affordable airfare.

In this ultimate guide, we will dive deep into the world of Google Flights, exploring its pros and cons, and uncovering the secrets to securing the best deals. So buckle up and get ready to embark on a journey of savings with Google Flights.

How to Use Google Flights

Now that we’ve explored the pros and cons of Google Flights, let’s dive into the nitty-gritty of how to use this powerful tool to find the best deals on flights.

Setting Departure and Arrival Locations

To begin your search on Google Flights, enter your departure and arrival locations along with your preferred travel dates. You have the flexibility to include multiple airports in each box, separated by commas. This allows you to search for the cheapest fares among various departure and arrival options. Additionally, some cities with multiple airports have designated city codes, such as NYC for New York City or WAS for Washington DC, which represent multiple airports within those cities.

Selecting Dates to Find the Cheapest Day to Fly

Google Flights provides a calendar view that shows the lowest fares for your selected dates. Clicking on the departure date box will display prices for two months, with the cheapest dates highlighted in green. It’s important to note that the green dates represent the lowest fares within the specific months you’ve selected. However, you may find even cheaper fares by adjusting your travel dates within a broader timeframe.

Booking Flights on Google Flights

Once you’ve identified a suitable departure flight, click on it to proceed to the next step. You’ll then be prompted to choose a corresponding return flight if you’re booking a roundtrip fare. The displayed price on Google Flights includes all taxes but may not include optional fees such as seat selection or baggage fees. It’s essential to review the details of the fare and any additional fees before making your final decision. It’s worth mentioning that Google Flights is not an online travel agency (OTA); it’s a flight search engine that directs you to book directly with airlines or reputable OTAs.

Overcoming “Ghosting” and Expired Deals

As mentioned earlier, “ghosting” occurs when a fare initially appears available on Google Flights but becomes unavailable or increases in price when you attempt to book. To check if a fare is truly gone, try searching for alternative dates within Google Flights or check with other online travel agencies. However, it’s important to keep in mind that airfare availability can change rapidly, and once a great fare is gone, it’s unlikely to be rebookable.

The Ideal Time to Book Flights

Timing is crucial when it comes to booking flights, and Google Flights can help you navigate the ideal booking windows for different types of trips. Let’s explore the best times to book flights for various travel scenarios.

Domestic Flights

For U.S. domestic flights, the lowest prices have typically been found 21-60 days before departure, with average prices hitting their lowest point around 44 days before the flight. However, it’s important to note that these patterns may vary depending on specific routes. To maximize your chances of securing the best deal, it’s generally advisable to plan and book early, especially for popular travel periods.

Thanksgiving and Christmas Travel

If you’re planning to travel domestically for Thanksgiving or Christmas, it’s recommended to book further in advance. Historically, the lowest prices for Thanksgiving have been found 36-74 days before departure, with the lowest point occurring around 52 days out. For Christmas travel, the lowest average prices have been observed 22 days before departure, although prices can start dropping as early as 20 days and continue fluctuating up to 88 days before departure.

Spring Break Getaways

For those seeking a break from the winter doldrums with a spring getaway, the best time to book flights is typically 23-59 days before departure. The lowest average prices for domestic trips beginning in March or April have been observed around 38 days before departure. Keep in mind that prices can fluctuate, so it’s advisable to monitor fare trends and book when you find a favorable deal.

Summer Vacation

When it’s time for summer vacation, booking flights 14-44 days before departure has proven to yield lower prices. The lowest average fares for domestic trips beginning in July or August are usually available around 21 days before departure. As with other travel scenarios, it’s essential to remain flexible and monitor price fluctuations to secure the best deal for your summer getaway.

Trips to Europe

If you’re planning a trip from the U.S. to Europe, prior trends suggest booking in advance. The best deals have typically been found around 129 days before departure, with prices tending to be lower between 50 and 179 days out. It’s important to note that these trends may vary based on specific destinations within Europe, so conducting thorough research and tracking fare trends is crucial.

Trips to Mexico or the Caribbean

For trips from the U.S. to Mexico or the Caribbean, historical data indicates that the lowest average airfares have been observed between 37 and 87 days before departure. The optimal time to book falls around 59 days before departure. As with any travel plans, it’s advisable to monitor prices and book when you find a favorable deal within the suggested timeframe.

Three More Ways Google Flights Can Help You Find a Good Deal

In addition to its core features, Google Flights offers three additional tools to enhance your flight search experience and ensure you find the best deal:

See Price Insights

When searching for your origin and destination, Google Flights provides price insights that indicate whether the current price is considered low, typical, or high compared to prices cataloged over the past 12 months for similar flights. This feature gives you a sense of whether you’re getting a good deal or if it’s worth waiting for prices to potentially drop.

Turn on Price Tracking

To stay informed about price changes, you can toggle on price tracking for your destination and travel dates. Google Flights will notify you via email if prices experience significant fluctuations. If you have flexibility in your travel dates, you can also opt to receive notifications for price drops on flights departing in the next 3 to 6 months. This feature allows you to seize opportunities for significant savings.

Utilize the Calendar View, Date Grid, and Price Graph

Google Flights offers various visual tools to help you visualize fare changes and make informed decisions. The calendar view and date grid enable you to see potential savings by adjusting your departure and return dates. The price graph provides a snapshot of how prices fluctuate based on the length of your trip and the departure date. These tools empower you to optimize your travel plans and secure the best fares.

Pros of Google Flights

When it comes to flight search engines, Google Flights truly stands out. Let’s take a closer look at its most notable advantages:

Lightning Fast

One of the standout features of Google Flights is its incredible speed. Unlike other flight search engines, Google Flights displays months’ worth of fares in a matter of seconds. This means you can quickly compare prices and find the best deals without wasting precious time.

Calendar-Based Fare View

Google Flights offers a simple and intuitive calendar view that allows you to see the cheapest fares over the next 12 months. This feature is invaluable for flexible travelers who are looking to find the most affordable dates to fly.

With Google Flights, you can search for the cheapest fares between up to seven origin and seven destination airports simultaneously. This feature is especially useful if you live in an area with multiple airports or if you’re open to exploring different departure and arrival options.

The Google Flights Explore map takes flight search to a whole new level. By selecting a country, region, or continent as your destination, you can see the cheapest places to fly from your airport during your selected dates. This feature is perfect for travelers who are open to exploring new destinations and looking for the best deals.

Tools to Help You Choose

Google Flights goes beyond just showing you prices. It provides additional information to help you make informed decisions. For example, Google Flights indicates whether the fare you’re seeing is high, low, or average for the trip. It also shows you the carbon footprint of each flight, allowing you to make more sustainable travel choices.

Cons of Google Flights

While Google Flights offers numerous advantages, it’s important to be aware of its limitations. Here are a few drawbacks to consider:

Doesn’t Always Have the Lowest Fares

Although Google Flights searches fares from major airlines and online travel agencies (OTAs) like Expedia and Orbitz, it may not always display the lowest fares available. Smaller OTAs, which Google Flights doesn’t include in its search, sometimes offer slightly cheaper fares. However, booking through these lesser-known sites can come with risks, so it’s important to weigh the potential savings against the reliability and reputation of the OTA.

Doesn’t Show All Airlines

Another limitation of Google Flights is that it doesn’t display results from Southwest Airlines. If you’re interested in flying with Southwest, you’ll need to check their fares directly on the airline’s website. However, Southwest’s Low Fare Calendar is user-friendly and provides a convenient way to search for their best deals.

Displays Expired Deals

Occasionally, Google Flights may show you a fare that appears to be available at a certain price, but when you proceed to book, the fare either increases or becomes unavailable. This phenomenon, known as “ghosting,” can be frustrating for travelers. It’s important to double-check the availability of fares by trying different dates or checking with other online travel agencies like Priceline or Expedia.

Frequently Asked Questions About Google Flights

Is Google Flights a reliable platform for booking flights?

Yes, Google Flights is a reliable platform for searching and comparing flights. It aggregates data from airlines and reputable online travel agencies, providing comprehensive and up-to-date information. However, it’s important to note that Google Flights is a search engine, and the actual booking is done through airlines or OTAs.

Does Google Flights offer a price guarantee?

While Google Flights doesn’t offer a specific price guarantee, it provides valuable price insights and tracking features to help you secure the best deals. By monitoring fare trends and setting up price tracking notifications, you can increase your chances of finding affordable flights.

Can I book flights with Southwest Airlines through Google Flights?

No, Google Flights does not display results from Southwest Airlines. If you’re interested in flying with Southwest, you’ll need to check their fares directly on the airline’s website or use their Low Fare Calendar, which is known for offering competitive prices.

Can Google Flights help me find flights with lower carbon emissions?

Yes, Google Flights is committed to promoting sustainable travel. It provides information on the carbon footprint of each flight, allowing you to make more environmentally conscious choices when selecting your flights.


Google Flights is undoubtedly a powerful tool for finding the best deals on flights. With its lightning-fast search engine, intuitive features, and comprehensive data, it empowers travelers to make informed decisions and save money. By leveraging Google Flights’ calendar-based fare view, multiple airport search, map-based search, and additional tools, you can uncover hidden gems and secure the most affordable flights. So, the next time you’re planning your travel adventures, remember to turn to Google Flights for an unforgettable journey at a fraction of the cost.

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