The other day I had to explain to my 7 year old what an encyclopedia was. He hasn’t known a time before you could just ” Google” and get answers. He also doesn’t understand that you used to have to go to a travel agency and meet with someone to help book your trips.
Much like Gutenberg did in 1455 with the printing press, there’s no doubt that Google has made information more readily available to the masses at the turn of the millennium.
Since then, Google has made it easier to pretty much…well…manage life. Travel included.
Now, it’s easy to be your own travel agent with the help of Google Flights. This post will guide you on how to do a Google Flights search to plan your dream trip on a budget.
What Is Google Flights?
Google flights is an online tool it gives you the benefits of doing a broad travel and helps you find deals for flights really quickly and easily.
In 2010 Google bought the ITA Matrix software which is the original airfare search software. You can still use that Matrix today, however Google flights made the ITA Matrix simpler and more user-friendly.
Because Google flights is not associated with any specific travel agency or airline, it searches all available airlines and travel agencies like Orbitz, Priceline or Expedia to help you determine the best routes and fares for your specific travel needs.
How To Use Google Flights
Start your Google Flights search on the home page by entering your departing and arrival destinations
You can enter up to seven airport codes in each search box, just separate them with a comma. This is just one method of finding the cheapest fares in a region.
Alternatively, if you don’t exactly know where you want to go, you can leave the arrival box blank and see the list of suggested popular destinations.
Choose whether you want a one-way flight, a round-trip ticket or go to multiple destinations.
Google Flights will automatically find disconnected flights, which may be cheaper. However, if you want to really use the disconnected flights travel hack, you may want to search one-way flights both to and from your destination.
Sometimes, I will search for the cheapest flight to a city in Europe, then the cheapest flight back from any city and build my trip around the cheapest methods and routes to get between those two cities.
Enter the number of passengers and preferred fare ( economy, first-class, business, etc.)
Select your specific dates in the Google Flights calendar search.
If you are a bit more flexible, open up the Google flights calendar to see a view of prices on alternative dates.
As long as you have destinations entered in the destination field, whether it’s a single destination or up to seven destinations, the calendar view will easily make it able for you to see when it’s the cheaper to fly. Lower airfares will be highlighted in green. Sometimes, higher than average airfare will be highlighted in red.
It is sometimes possible to save hundreds of dollars, just by adjusting your travel plans by one day!
Note, the price listed is the total price for the number of passengers you selected.
Review your choices and select your chosen flights for each leg of the trip.
At the top of the results page, you can also filter the selections to match your travel preferences. Just remember, flexibility usually leads to cheaper plane tickets.
When you select your tickets you’ll be able to go straight to either the airline or the travel agencies website to book directly through them sometimes you can book through Google specifically if the Google pay option is available and if you have that set up.
Benefits Of Google Flights
If you’re unsure where to go or when you want to travel, the flexibility a Google flights is fantastic.
By being able to enter multiple destinations for both departures and arrivals, doing a Google Flights search helps you to find some of the best fares quickly and easily.
You may also get some travel ideas that you weren’t even considering before.
Downsides of Google Flights
Sometimes Google flights is not completely accurate.
Occasionally, you may click to go purchase your airfare and realize that it’s unavailable or at a different price than Google posted.
In my experience, Google flights has been fairly accurate and this hasn’t happened often… but it does occur.
Also, Google flights only works directly with airlines and a small number of the larger online travel agencies like Expedia, Priceline, or Travelocity. So, if a better fares are available from a smaller travel agency Google flights may not notice It’ll recognize it and share that information with you.
Finally, Google Flights does not have a simple bundling option for hotels. You will need to book those separately. However, the tips section in Flight Insights does help you research vacation packages.
5 Hacks For Google Flights:
The above information covers the basics… it’s Google Flights 101.
However, if you really want to maximize your Google Flights Search, you will utilize these hacks to make sure you are getting the absolute best information available for your travel planning.
Make Sure You Are Logged Into Your Google Account For Flight Tracking
If you logged into your Google account while doing a flight search, you can set up flight alerts.
This basically lets Google do the work for you!
Provided that you have enough time to plan your trip in advance, you can simply enter your trip information and the dates that you would like to travel, then click the button to let Google know you would like to track the prices.
When the price of that plane ticket drops, Google will send you an email to let you know it’s time to buy.
If you have a Gmail email address than you already have a Google account. In case you are one of the few who don’t have a Google account, it’s very simple to set up. Click here and get it done.
Utilize the Legroom Chrome Extension
The Legroom Chrome Extension enhances your Google flight search by giving you some extra information that’s going to be helpful for your travel experience.
When doing a standard search, you’re going to see the plane fare cost and you can certainly look a little bit deeper and find out what amenities the plane will have.
However, with the Legroom Chrome Extension you’re going to be able to see that information right away in the search results, which is going to save you time.
For example, you’ll be able to see whether or not the flight has Wi-Fi available, power outlets, TV on demand and what carry-on restrictions or bag restrictions there may be for the particular plane ticket that you’re considering.
This may or may not be important to you depending on the length of flight that you are taking. It may not be a big deal if you don’t have power outlets or Wi-Fi available for a one or two hour flight.
However, if you are embarking on an overnight international flight that’s going to be eight hours long, then you’re definitely going to want access to some of those amenities.
Let’s face it…if you’re a parent…sometimes the only time you can sit through a movie without being interrupted is on a long-haul flight.
Check out my video below on how to add the Legroom Google Chrome Extension to your Chrome toolbar.
Pay attention to Flight Insights
After you do your initial Google Flights search you’ll be able to see some informational boxes called ‘flight insights.’
It will appear towards the top of your screen, just before you can see the departing flights and the ticket costs.
Within Flight Insights, you will notice four categories: Dates, Price Graph, Airports and Tips.
Dates operates much like the calendar view.
When you were in this tab you’ll see a grid with departure dates running horizontally across the top and returning dates running vertically on the side.
This grid helps you identify alternative dates that may cost less to fly. Cheaper rates are highlighted in green and more expensive rates are highlighted in red.
The Price Graph is a visual chart of airline ticket pricing trends and where your travel dates fit in to those trends.
Within the price graph, you can adjust the duration of your trip, and use the arrows to get a different two-month view.
By utilizing this tool, you can predict when it is the peak and off-peak times to travel to your chosen destination.
The airports tab helps you find alternative airports both from your departing destination and near your arrival destination.
This feature can help you determine if alternative airports may cost less or have flights that better suit your travel needs when it comes to flight times or layovers.
The Tips section of flight insights directs you to travel guides, maps, suggested itineraries, recommended sights to see and more for your chosen destination.
You can also get the link to download the app for Google Trips which will help you manage any reservations and check out travel guides from your smart phone while you’re on the go.
Check Out The Explore Map
Not gonna lie… I could spend hours playing around with the Google flights Explore Map.
If you know you want to go somewhere, but are just not sure where… and you have a rough idea of where you’ll be departing from, then the Explore Map is ideal for giving you some ideas and helping to determine your price options.
You can plug in either specific dates or use the flexible dates feature to view the prices for multiple destinations worldwide.
The map makes it very easy to visually search the destinations and the zoom buttons help manipulate the map as you narrow in on some specific locations.
Additionally, when you search specific dates, you can filter your results based on price, specific airlines, flight times and the number of stops.
If you use the flexible date option, which searches out up to six months, you can filter whether you want a weekend trip, a one-week trip or two week trip.
You can also filter based on stops and some select airline partners, just in case you want to utilize any airline miles you may have with those partners.
My friend, Taima, of Poor in a Private Plane, uses this feature to play travel roulette and determine her next destinations.
Download Google Trips
As part of the Google family, the Google Trips app, integrates really well with Google Flights and is one of my top recommended travel apps to have on your smartphone.
The app is completely free on both iOS and android systems. It can store all of your travel information, which it curates from your Gmail account. Additionally, Google Trips offers tour suggestions, travel guides, maps, restaurant recommendations and sightseeing locations.
As an added bonus, Google Trips is also available off-line in case you are in an area where WiFi limited.