Once you start to use Google flights, with several handy and cost-saving features, you will never turn back to anything you used to use. When looking into a new trip, my first stop is always Google flights. There are a few ways I like to use the site, first, when I know specific dates for a specific location and secondly, when I know I have time off from work and want to get away. Below I will go over how to to use Google flight's features for when: Travel Dates & Locations are Set, Travel Dates Semi-Flexible & Location are Set, Travel Dates Semi-Flexible & Location Unknown and Travel Dates & Location Flexible.
Travel Dates & Location are Set
If you know of somewhere specific you have to go and when and you have some time to track prices, Google flights has some useful tracking features. For example, I know I will be traveling to Charleston for my friend Meg's bachelorette party the first weekend in June.
Since I have known about this trip since September, I have been tracking the flights and options. Once you search your cities and dates, click the track prices option below the flights. You will get email notifications of changes in the flight prices. You will also be able to see the trend of prices overtime.
Looking at this chart, I probably should've booked 44 days ago when the price dipped below $250 but I missed out on that one. Another way to search is by selecting your departure and arrival windows, such as depart before 10am and arrive after 6pm, and then tracking the price. Since I will only be in Charleston for the weekend I want to leave as early as possible on Friday morning and leave in the afternoon on Sunday. I have also been separately tracking flights leaving on Thursday night to compare the differences.
Dates Semi-Flexible & Location are Set
My parents are traveling to Lisbon in a couple months but have yet to book any of their travel. They have some flexibility within a 3 week period and would like to go to Lisbon and the surrounding areas for about 10 days. They are traveling with my aunt and uncle and the closest large, international airport for both couples is out of Toronto. First up, you will want to enter in your departure and destination cities and pull up the calendars around the times you would like to travel.
The green highlighted prices show to least expensive days to fly between your two cities. I chose 18th-28th.
There was only one nonstop flight option on TAP Portugal and even though it's not the cheapest ticket, they are willing to pay a little more to sacrifice a layover. If it's not a major airline I am familiar with, I always want to check the airline's site directly because it is very common that extra fees will apply for things like reserving your seat or a checking a bag.
As you can see, the quoted price on Google flights was TAP Portugal's discount fare. The main difference between discount and basic is one checked bag and the difference between basic and classic is the ability to reserve your seat. Depending on what kind of traveler you are, you have some options. But for my parents I would book the classic which works out to $917 USD, about $160 more than the original price on Google flights. When I checked out the Air France option, it included a checked bag as well as seat reservation for the quoted price of $591 on Google flights but also had a layover and an 11 hour travel time as opposed to 7 hours. There are so many options and it's really up to how much you want to spend and how long you want to be traveling.
Dates Semi-Flexible & Location Unknown
I have the last two weeks off in March every year for my student's spring break. Let's say we didn't know where we wanted to go but I was trying to avoid areas with Zika AKA anywhere warm in March. On Google flights you not only put in specific cities but also larger areas such as Europe. Here are some options when I selected some spring break dates along with nonstop flights to Europe.
You can click through the cities and find different options of where to go for those specific dates. You could also change the dates in this view to see differences in prices.
Dates & Location Flexible
The most flexible way to use Google flights is under the "Discover Destinations" resource. Let's say you wanted to take a weekend trip in May but you were flexible on which weekend you wanted to go and were up for suggestions. You could also narrow your interests by different categories such as beaches, shopping or culture.
This option allows you to end up on a trip you never even thought of taking! If your dates are flexible, always be sure to check the "Date Tip" where it will suggest you fly a day before or a day later to save some money.
Review of Google Flight Features
Click track prices when you have set dates & location
Use calendar feature to see cheapest days to fly highlighted in green
Check out "date tips" for money saving options
Search an entire area such as "Europe" or "SE Asia" at once in map view
Use Discover Destinations to help you plan a flexible trip
I use Google flights for searching and comparing flights but we almost always use Chase points to book travel. Once you find the flight you want, the prices will be the same when search it in the Chase points portal.
Google is always updating their features to make your experience easier and more enjoyable. Let me know if you find out about any new features or how you used Google flights to book your travel!