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6 Ways to Use Google Flights to Save Money on Airfare

By Ashley M. Biggers
January 12, 2022
Airfare
Steven Cukrov | Dreamstime.com
Google Flights is a powerful tool for researching and booking airfare at the best rates. Here are a few tips for using it.

Booking airfare is a common cause of buyer’s remorse. You diligently research the best fares, track them with price alerts, and finally book — only to see the price drop unexpectedly just before takeoff.

Google Flights, part of the search engine giant’s new raft of travel-savvy features, aims to prevent that buyer’s remorse. It’s so sure of its tracking prowess that it’s offering a price guarantee.

Here are the details: When Google Flights’ algorithms confidently identify the lowest available price, it tags the fare. After you book, Google Flights continues to monitor the fare. If the cost drops before take-off, it will refund you the difference.

Sound too good to be true? Well, keep in mind it’s a limited-time offer available for select flights booked through September 2, 2019. Travel must be completed by November 24, 2019. Finally, the difference in price must be greater than $5 and less than $500.

But even after this price guarantee ends, Google Flights still has several features and tools that can help you get the most for your money. Here’s how.

Use the Tips section to know when you’re getting a good deal

Google Flights uses more than 300 partners including airlines and other travel aggregators to display offers. It automatically sorts results by the best price, but the Tips section provides further insights. It contains notes that let you know whether you’re getting a good deal. Tips may note that prices are unlikely to drop before you book, that prices are less than usual, or prices are likely to increase. Google develops these tips after analyzing price trends of past flights and similar trips.

Use the Explore Destinations feature

Still trying to decide where you want to go? Let the Explore Destinations feature be your budget-friendly travel agent. It allows you to select your departure city, the proposed length of your trip, and the month in which you want to travel, then delivers destinations with the lowest airfares. For example, if you’re planning a one-week trip in November, but aren’t sure of your destination, you may opt for New York over Washington, DC, when you discover you’ll save $100 on the airfare alone.

Be flexible with your dates

If you have a fixed destination in mind, but can be flexible with your travel dates, Google Flights can deliver savings. Once you’ve input your destination and proposed itinerary dates, click on the Date Grid. This reveals how airfare prices fluctuate on the dates surrounding your proposed departure and return. Similarly, the Price Graph lets you explore how fares vary by month or week, which can help you identify the best times to travel that route.

Experiment with your route

Sometimes our travel plans take us to destinations that can be reached via multiple airports. If that’s the case with your trip, use the Airports feature. For example, if you’re headed to Tupelo, Mississippi, you might opt to fly into Birmingham, Alabama, or Nashville, Tennessee. Let your pocketbook pick.

Filter by bag fees

When looking at airplane fares, it’s easy to forget the other fees we may encounter. Baggage fees are chief among them. If you already know whether you’ll be checking a bag or bringing one onboard, Google Flights can show you flight prices that include any associated fees. Turning on this filter doesn’t remove any flights from results. Instead, it updates prices so you can get a true picture of your total trip cost.

Set Fare Alerts

Even though Google Flights offers several convenient features to search for the best price within its platform, you may not want to turn obsessive fare checking into a hobby. In that case, set up a Fare Alert. Just enter your travel details, including destination and dates, and click the Track Prices toggle. Google Flights will keep tabs on price fluctuations and send you an email notifying you of price changes.

The only drawback to Google Flights may be that it doesn’t index all flights. For example, Google Flights doesn’t publish prices from Southwest Airlines. If a route is available that meets your needs, it will display that a flight is available but will redirect you to the airline’s website for site for further details. However, overall, Google Flights is fast becoming a top airfare search and research tool.

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Travel Tips

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