Tips & Tricks: How to Use Google Flights
I understand the pain of paying full retail cost for traveling. Before I was introduced to travel hacking, I was once the average traveler looking for the best discounted airfare I could find. Now here’s a great tip and trick for those novice travel hackers who currently don’t have miles or expert travel hackers to find the best discounted fares or even mistake fares.
What is Google Flights?
Google Flights is very similar to your Online Travel Agents (OTA) like Travelocity, Priceline, Expedia, etc. It is simply a search engine to find airfare tickets sold through third party suppliers.
Features and Benefits?
Another common way of finding fares is a search engine called the ITA Matrix. You’ll most likely hear this search engine expressed a lot in the travel hacking world. However, Google actually acquired this website and developed their own search engine, Google Flights. I personally prefer Google Flights over ITA Matrix because it’s 1) more user friendly, 2) faster in fare searches, and 3) they have bookable buttons. I will cover these three areas in detail and I hope that you too will make Google Flights as your default airfare search engine.
- User Friendly. When new users use ITA Matrix they feel like they are overwhelmed with the amount of information they need to provide. However, with Google Flights, it’s clean and simple. Just like their regular browser search engine.
- Fast Searches. Google Flights is light-years faster than ITA Matrix and I say that with an emphasis on “light-years”. This deal breaking feature is the main reason why I made the move from ITA Matrix to Google Flights. Searching for a specific outbound/inbound dated flights on ITA Matrix would have taken a good 10 seconds to load all the flights once you hit the search button. With Google Flights it’s practically instantly. From the time you’re inputting the dates. You can instantly see a calendar of which dates would be the cheapest. Here is an example I did from San Francisco (SFO) to New York (JFK). I inputted an outbound date on the day before Thanksgiving (November 26). Then once I clicked over to the return date input box, a 2 month period calendar popped up and instantly started showing me days I could return for the lowest price of that day. Those shown in green are the lowest price out of the two month period.
- Bookable Buttons. The bookable button is a feature that ITA Matrix does not have. Once you have provided the dates you want and flight times you have picked. Google Flight provides a “Buy your tickets” buttons that allows you to book with OTA or the airline itself. For an example, I decided to use the same route as above but flight dates of November 26 and coming back on December 9 on a Virgin America flight.
Once you click any of these buttons it will automatically bring you to the website and you can initiate the checkout/booking process already. No need to reperform the search from the website as Google Flights has already performed that part of legwork for you.
Other Helpful Tips/Tricks:
- A popular travel hacking trick that I think most users tend to not use is searching airfares from nearby airport locations. Google Flights allows you to add up to 5 different airports for both origin or destination. You would simply have to click “+” in your origin or destination and it will show you a drop down list of all the airports that are near your designated location. For our example, it seems there was a cheaper flight flying out of Oakland and San Jose than the San Francisco airport. Saving a total of $114. That money will come a long way and that extra savings can definitely boost your budget.
- If you have more flexibility in your travel dates then this feature is most beneficial to you. Click on the histogram image located right underneath your return date.
Inside you have the options to specify that you want to see the lowest fares for a how ever amount of day trip your trip will be with a +/- days.
This is another benefactor in saving as you can narrow your search even more.
Google Flight has a lot of features and benefits that outperforms any other search engine. This could potentially save you hundreds of dollar just by putting in some simple filters to help with your search. I know it personally has saved me a couple bucks on flights and I hope that this planning resource will benefit you as well. Have a Happy Thanksgiving week and save travels to all!