Finding affordable flights can be difficult, but it doesn’t have to be impossible. In fact, scoring cheaper tickets might be as simple as hopping on Google Flights. This intuitive flight search engine has been around for nearly a decade, and it just keeps getting better.
Forget scouring the internet and third-party sites for great deals. Google’s got you covered. Filter flights based on preferred travel dates, destinations, budget, trip duration and more. The best part is Google Flights is free, so you can search to your heart’s content and save big money.
Once you master the basics, you can begin using advanced features to hack your way to even cheaper flights. If you’re ready to travel again and take your savings to the next level, the following Google Flights tips will help.
1. Search Multiple Airports
One of the coolest Google Flights tips is that it lets you search for multiple flights to and from various airports simultaneously. If you know where you want to fly out of but aren’t sure where to land, this feature will serve you well.
Find the cheapest airport in your destination by perusing up to seven different terminals in the same area. The results will automatically list the best deal at the top, which ultimately saves you time and energy. Plus, you can switch your search around to determine which departure ports are most affordable.
2. Use the Explore Map
Don’t care when or where you go? You’re not alone. After being cooped up inside for more than a year, most people would rather be anywhere but home. Luckily, you and other savvy travelers can use Google Flights to find tickets for the cheapest destinations in a wider time frame. Simply select “flexible dates” in the date field and narrow your search to a weekend, one or two weeks, or anytime in the next six months.
3. Search for Hidden Layover Cities
Travelers who enjoy a dash of adventure will love Google’s ability to find hidden layover cities. This feature allows you to pick flights with longer layovers in different ports so you can go out and explore a whole other place on the way to your main destination.
First, run a flight search and use the “more” tab to select or deselect stopover cities. Select “any duration” and update your query. The longest layovers should now pop up in your results.
4. Compare Prices
Tourism is a huge industry — its annual revenue is nearly $500 billion. However, if more people used Google Flights instead of travel agents to compare prices, the industry might not be worth quite so much. That’s because this feature is free and generates faster results than any human.
Simply scroll down to the bottom of the results page to determine whether you’re actually saving money or getting ripped off compared to the average price. Google forms these price comparisons by monitoring and analyzing the average fares over the past 12 months, much like a travel agent would, except quicker.
5. Opt Into Price Alerts
Get the best flights before other travelers do by opting into price alerts. This Google Flights hack tracks your preferred flight and pings your inbox when it goes on sale. You can then hop on Google’s site and snatch those tickets before anyone else does. The only catch is that you must have a Gmail account to receive notifications and be the first in line for cheap flights.
6. Remember Budget Carriers
Unfortunately, Google Flights doesn’t work with budget carriers like Southwest Airlines, Allegiant or many Asian airlines. While Google may boast low prices, purchasing tickets from one of these historically affordable airlines may be much cheaper. Check these carriers’ websites and compare prices with ones you find on Google to determine which flight is the most financially savvy for you.
7. Take Advantage of the Price Guarantee
Does the mere thought of buying tickets trigger panic and commitment issues? Have peace of mind when you book your flight by taking advantage of Google’s price guarantee. This free feature reassures travelers that if their flight’s airfare drops after purchasing tickets, the company will refund the remainder. To take advantage of this tool, book a flight between Aug. 3 and Sept. 2.
Let Technology Do the Work
Once your flight is booked, it may be tempting to open a spreadsheet or journal and start planning your dream vacation. However, technology is more than capable of doing the work for you, so you might as well take advantage of it. Beyond our list of Google Flights tips, the app can also create an itinerary, book hotels, check out restaurants, and make a must-see list of excursions and attractions. Keep all your trip details in one place with a Google Docs app to stay organized and minimize stress while you’re gone.
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