It’s better than any travel agent.
If you’re not already familiar with Google Flights, let us introduce you to one of the quickest and most efficient travel search engines out there. In a matter of seconds, you can have access to the cheapest flights directly from the carrier, thanks to the same snazzy technology used by both KAYAK and Orbitz—but with a few more bells and whistles.
Instead of trying to figure out the best times and days to book your flights, this handy online tool takes all the guesswork out of planning your vacation. So the next time you’re on Google to search for a slow-cooker recipe or a how-to video, take a peek at the Flights option at the very top of your search results. While you’re at it, take advantage of these six unique features to get the best deal on your upcoming fall getaway.
1. No specific destination in mind? Try the "Explore Map" option.
Located in the top left menu tab, the "explore" feature lets you browse around specific regions or areas of interest to see the lowest air fares. Feeling lucky? Let Google decide your next slice of paradise with the "I’m Feeling Lucky" button, which will give you random dates and destinations to choose from, based on your search history and popular places among its users. Basically, it’s like throwing a dart at a map to discover your next adventure.
2. Flexible on dates or airports? The calendar view is the best function for saving money.
The calendar view gives you a quick glimpse of flight prices, with the lowest fares displayed for upcoming dates. This option shows up when you click the departure or arrival dates. You can also play around with choosing different airports to see if there’s a major difference in price. The “tips” option in the sidebar at the top of your flight results also provides helpful suggestions, such as alternative dates, airports, ways you can save money, and deals on upgrades. The “tips” feature can also show you when first-class seats are affordable, or if a flight will be cheaper in a few days.
3. When you have a set itinerary, however, sign up for price alerts.
The great thing about Google Flights is that it allows you to receive price alerts on your mobile device or via email. Not to mention, the search engine has a specific algorithm that analyzes price trends to alert you when fares increase or decrease, and by what margins. You can sign up for this option when browsing.
4. Frequent flyer? Don’t miss out on the "Track Price" button.
If you often fly the same route for business or pleasure, you can track the average fare price. Simply, select the itinerary you want Google to track by clicking the button. You can do this before you choose a departing flight or after you select the arrival and departure flights. Until the day of your flight, Google will update the price trends and send you predictions of the best time to purchase. Of course, this doesn’t apply to airlines like Southwest, whose prices are only available through their portal.
5. What about extra bags and fees?
Again, Google Flights is savvy enough to determine add-on fees and when carry-on bags are not included in the total price, and you can also find out what’s included in your ticket, like Wi-Fi, entertainment, and even legroom.
6. Make good use of those miles and rewards points with the "Airline" tab.
If you’re a member of a rewards program, locate the "Airline" tab and search for flights either by a specific airline or alliance group (rewards program). Google Flights will show you all the flights in that particular network for you to earn or use your points.
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Sure, there are a myriad of search engines to help you book your next vacation, but Google Flights is a one-stop shop to monitor prices and purchase tickets.