Mastering Google Flights is actually really easy…

People either don’t care about flight deals until it’s too late, or they book way too early. Also, flight deals just make people generally panic with certainty they’ve missed the best one, and it’s often kind of understandable. But with Google Flights, that all kinda changed.

Tracking, filtering and jumping on the best flight deals really couldn’t be easier, and there’s no excuse not to. It’s free, after all.

Google Flights is a tool allowing you to use all the actually useful flight deal tips you read about on the internet, without the dumb ones like changing your location with a VPN. Here’s how to become a legendary flight deal hunter with Google Flights, or at the very least, be someone who knows all the best tricks to save on airfare…

Step One: Use Google Flights Early And Often

People come up to me all the time and say “oh yeah, i know all the cheap flights tricks, I use the Expedia”. I smile, nod and think to myself “mmm cool, that’s good, but…. I use Google Flights first”.

Why? Because it’s got so many tools for before booking.

I start my flight searches long before I expect to book anything and I play around with things every few days, but even searching once properly is all you need. Using other sites like Expedia or Skyscanner to comparison shop is great, but only when you’re ready to book.

The simplest and best way to actually find flight great deals is Google Flights. In case you’d heard ITA Matrix is actually the best, Google Flights is basically a less clunky of ITA Matrix, and is the result of Google purchasing the tool.

Step Two: Use Your Google Account

If you’re logged into your Gmail account, Google Flights takes on new levels which really improve search.

As you’ll soon see, using your Gmail, you can let the flight deals come directly to you, right into your email inbox via Google Flights price alerts. Search once, see results whenever prices change, without needing to search.

We’ll get to that more in a second. All it takes is the flick of a switch, or realistically speaking – the tap of a button at the top of your search. There’s nothing quite like waking up to savings in your inbox.

Step Three: Open Up Possibilities

If you’re going somewhere far, the more flexibility the better. Maybe Boston has $260 round trip flights to Spain, but New York is over $500. This is where Google Flights shines.

You can enter up to seven (7!) departure cities and seven (7!) destinations for a single search. You’ll see the lowest price from all possible outcomes. Yes, in one search you can see if it’s cheaper to fly from Paris, London, Manchester, Amsterdam, Dublin, Rome or Budapest.

Is it worth the savings and effort to leave from somewhere else? That’s up to you, but it never hurts to compare…

Do note: if you want to set price alerts, you can generally only search 5 departures and destinations, rather than 7. It’s not a big deal…

Step Four: Set Multiple Google Flights Alerts

Alerts are free, alerts are easy and you should 100% be using them.

Yes, you!

Whenever you search on Google Flights, you have the option of pressing a button which will track prices for your desired flights and email you when prices change. Just wait until the search appears and the button will pop up.

If you have any flexibility, like maybe leaving Tuesday instead of Wednesday, set alerts for each possible date of flexibility to improve your chances of getting in on a screaming deal. You should also set alerts for premium economy or business class, because hey, you never know!

Sometimes either are legitimately cheaper. We have proof!

Step Five: Get Inspired

Here’s a really cool feature for those of you who struggle on picking a place. You’re not alone!

Without setting a destination, you can see flight prices to places all over the world, just by telling the search where you are. This can be a really cool way to inspire your next trip, or find out that it’s a lot cheaper to fly from Los Angeles to London, than Los Angeles to Louisiana. That’s another strange but true common case.

You can set criteria like “non-stop only” or only flights with a certain airline, and you don’t even need to put in dates! Now, you can also set a budget filter, to name the highest price you’re willing to pay, and see where it can take you by moving the map! Just leave the destination field blank and Google Flights will do the rest.

Step Six: Get Picky With Google Flight Preferences

You can’t help but want what you want. Maybe you’re traveling as a family and only want direct flights, or are obsessed with Virgin Atlantic and only want to fly with them.

Using the easy toolbar above flight results, you can exclude certain airlines, only select others, choose the amount of connections you find acceptable and also if you get hand luggage. You can then set price alerts with these preferences to ensure you don’t get any false excitement!

Step Seven: Find A Date

Nope, not prying into your love life – just your fly life.

Google Flights has added a really useful “dates” tool which allows you to see a matrix of the lowest prices within a few days of what you searched for. In one click you’ll see the prices for every nearby date, which can help determine if that dinner with an old friend is really worth it, or if it’s better to save $300 on your flight.

Oh, and don’t be afraid to use Google’s two newest features, which help you filter out deals by budget and also shows you a thermometer of how good the deals are!

It’s really true, you can just tell Google Flights your budget, leave the destination field blank and it will show you everywhere you can afford to go.

What’s your favourite Google Flights tip?

Gilbert Ott

Gilbert Ott is an ever curious traveler and one of the world's leading travel experts. His adventures take him all over the globe, often spanning over 200,000 miles a year and his travel exploits are regularly...

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7 Comments

  1. Thank you. Can you please add at what point the airline is made aware of demand for a flight based on Google Flights vs. ITA Matrix vs Expert Flyer vs other OTAs?
    Are all hits/searches captured/known immediately by the airline, or is the airline completely unaware until exactly what point? How can perceived demand affect prices?Are we shooting ourselves in the foot setting alerts?

    1. Ryan air have definitely done that trick, regularly noticed prices increased the more we searched and it saved the search…

  2. While I pretty much detest Google, I do use their Flights program, simply because there’s nothing that can do remotely the same things. The one area that is surprisingly lacking is in the maps. While you can easily show prices *to* just about anywhere on the map, you can’t do the reverse by listing a destination for the map and see the best prices *from* anywhere.

  3. I like using google flights to search the cheapest route by region. So set a search like NYC-Europe and it will show a map of Europe with prices for the dates you want to various cities. I also like the option for “Bags”. Select it to include a carry-on to weed out basic economy or alert you to LCC’s that upcharge for that feature.

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