Are you planning a vacation that includes flights? How do you find your flights? Do you go directly to the airlines’ websites? Shop a flight consolidator like Kayak or Priceline? With a plethora of flight information available on the internet, identifying your optimal flight can be a daunting task. Here’s a tip. Begin your next flight search with Google Flights!
This comprehensive, powerful search engine has become my go-to, quick-start trip planning tool. Google Flights helps travelers quickly find and compare flights, but it is so much more than simply a flight search engine. There are some incredible travel planning tools buried within the depths of Google Flights that can help optimize your next flight choices.
See for yourself! Let’s check out my favorite features, beginning with the basics. The remaining five features are where Google Flights rocks the flight search arena.
1. Set Travel Plans? Use Basic Flight Search
Are your travel destination and dates set in stone? Google Flights can help find the optimal flights to match! Just input the requisite travel details and Google Flights generates a list of flight options for your perusal. You can then further filter your flight options by number of stops, price, airlines and times. Now just pick the one that best fits your travel needs!
Two note-worthy features at this level are Flight/Date Tips and Best Flights. Flight/Date Tips lets you know if a similar, less expensive flight might be available on a different date or via a nearby airport. Best Flights identifies flights that Google thinks are optimal combinations of price and flight duration. These flights are highlighted in green.
2. Flexible Destinations? Explore Destinations Maps
Is your destination flexible? Looking for the best priced destinations for your travel window or in a specified region? Google Flights has you covered! Input your departing airport and travel dates, leave the destination open or add a region, and boom! Google generates a map of airfares, making it easy to compare fares of destinations across your specified region!
Searching by Destinations Maps lets you quickly compare flight prices of multiple destinations at once, helping you determine which might one be the best option for your next adventure. Doing an open-ended flight search can be an incredible and fun way to find destinations you might not have otherwise considered.
3. Flexible Dates? Search Prices By Calendar
You’ve determined the destination, but are flexible with your travel days? Cash in on the lowest possible airfares by utilizing Google Flight’s Flexible Fare Dates features. Input your departure airport and destination, along with tentative travel dates, and the results will be a most useful fare price comparison tool!
Click on the departure date (the blue field above) and three additional airfare price sorting features appear beneath your travel details – Calendar, Flexible Dates and Price Graph. The Calendar view provides a snapshot of lowest airfare prices for each day of the month, with the best fares highlighted in green.
The Flexible Dates view shows possible combinations of dates around your preferred travel window. The Price Graph view visually pinpoints which dates offer the lowest airfare across your travel window as well as when you might expect fares to increase or decrease.
Travel Tip: Price by Calendar is perhaps my most favorite Flights feature. Being flexible with travel dates is an awesome way to save on airfare. Sometimes all it takes is shifting your travel day to cash in on some significant savings.
4. Open to Anywhere? Try I’m Feeling Lucky
Don’t have a particular destination in mind? Try Google Flight’s I’m Feeling Lucky feature! Choose your departure airport and travel dates, click on I’m Feeling Lucky, and let the Google Flights search engine take over.
The results? Destination options based on your previous search history and what’s popular for the dates you’ve chosen. Don’t like the destination Google came up with? Want to see more options? No problem! Click again on I’m Feeling Lucky for more destination ideas.
5. Not Sure Where To Go? Try Discover Destinations
Not 100% certain of where you want to go? Need some destination inspiration? Try Discover Destinations for places you might not otherwise have considered. Simply input Dates, Places, and Interests, and Google Flights searches for destinations to match your criteria.
See a destination that piques your interest? Click on it for additional travel planning information like expected costs, hotels, and activities that meet your Interests. Discover Destinations is a great way to discover the world based on what you want to do on vacation.
6. Not Ready to Book? Track Prices
Found your destination and determined your travel dates? Just not yet ready to book it? Still comparing airfares of multiple flights or destinations? Utilize the Track Prices feature and let Google Flights keep tabs on airfares for you!
Once you’ve identified tentative flights, turn on Track Prices. Google Flights then sends you email notifications of price changes and travel tips for your saved itinerary, keeping you on top of airfare price fluctuations.
Final Thoughts on Google Flights
Google Flights has quickly become my go-to flight planning and airfare comparison tool. But it does have its limits, and it isn’t the easiest search engine to get started with. But once you figure out its secrets, you too will see the advantages. Just keep in mind the following:
- Google Flights is a flight comparison search engine, not a flight booking site.
- Not all airlines will show up in a Google Flights search. Nor will all destinations.
- Google Flights is a powerful search engine, but it isn’t the only one. Do your homework.
- Sometimes you need a travel agent, especially where complex flights are involved.
Lastly, just because a flight is cheaper, doesn’t always mean it’s the best flight for you. Google Flights helps balance that $100 dollar flight savings which includes an undesirable 10 hour layover somewhere you’d rather not be. You decide if the savings is worth it.
Do You Use Google Flights?
Google Flights is an essential tool in my arsenal of travel planning apps and websites. I begin practically every trip planning phase with searches within these six Google Flight features. Sometimes I am wide open on where I want to go. Other times I am simply looking for the best airfare. And I may just want to dream of possible destinations far away.
How about you? Do you use Google Flights when planning your travel adventures? What’s your favorite feature? Do you use another flight search engine? Do share!
Images via Google Flights.