Travel is one of the best ways to enjoy the best of what life has to offer. Just about everyone can share a story of happy memories on vacation, and looking forward to a future adventure is almost half the fun!
Google has an awesome travel booking feature called Google Flights that allows users to find cheap flights, compare cheap flight prices, track prices and flight schedules, and book their flight itinerary with only a few clicks through the search function.
The first time I used Google Flights, I was planning my first trip abroad. Growing up in the United States, I was excited to explore Europe. I had no idea where to go, and wanted to be able to stretch my savings to maximize my trip’s potential.
Google Flights Search was perfect for just that. I was able to plug in some flexible daI was able to plug in some flexible dates, as I was considering a few months out, which gave me a list of the cheapest dates.
Then I used it to filter flights, so I could determine not only the cheapest destination cities that I could fly into in Europe but also which departure cities would be the cheapest to fly out of from the States.
That kind of customization made my trip planning exciting and easy to navigate. If you’re just like me and want to book flights with the easiest tool possible, read on to learn all that Google Flights has to offer.
What Exactly is Google Flights?
Unlike traditional search engines, Google Flights is a metasearch engine tool that you can use to track down and book flights quickly and easily.
Whether you’re booking a round trip, going one way, or planning a multi-city trip, Google Flights is customizable. It has an interactive calendar with pricing charts that help to quickly display the prices for the dates of your travel plans.
How to Use Google Flight Search
All you have to do is go to google.com or download the Google Flights app, and right there in the home search bar you just type in the cities you want to fly between plus the word “flights”.
When you hit enter or click the Google Search button, Google Flights will automatically appear as the first search result (after any paid ads). If you didn’t specify the travel dates in your search, Google will populate your search with some future dates so it can begin showing you some options.
If you want to start playing around with the filters, simply click on the link below the results that says “Show flights”. This will take you to google.com/flights, which is another way to access the Google Flight Search function.
If you do go directly to google.com/flights, the launch page will look a little different, showing up with filters and boxes to fill in with your travel cities or airports and date ranges.
Both of these options will get you the same results in the next step. When you go to select your dates, it will show you the prices as you adjust the dates for your search. We’ll go into some of the other features later in this guide.
Who is Google Flight Search For?
You may be wondering if you have to have a Google account to use Google Flights. The short answer is no. You can simply use the search function and then follow the links provided in the results to go to the airline website to book directly through them.
However, there are streamlined features for booking directly through Google Flights–in some cases. Once you’ve selected the flights you want, usually an option will appear below the search results showing when you can “Book on Google”. This means you can complete the booking using any contact and payment information you have saved in your Google account.
If you choose this option, it will allow you to complete your transaction while staying on Google, as Google acts as an intermediary to pass along your information securely to your airline or travel agency.
Google is not a party to the transaction in this case. This means that Google Flights is for anybody, regardless of who your email account is.
Whether you’re flying for business or pleasure, Google Flights is useful. If you don’t have time to search for flights and you are solely focused on cheap flights, use Going (formerly Scott’s Cheap Flights) to get the flight deals directly to your email inbox.
Grab a free trial of Scott’s using our link and give it a shot, you don’t even need a paid premium plan to score cheap flights.
See Related: Skyscanner Alternatives to Book Travel
Why I Swear By Google Flights Search
When I was booking my trip to Europe I was so excited. I didn’t want to get bogged down in details and tons of research. I wanted to dream, explore, and see what was possible! I feel that Google Flights helped me do just that.
I played with the different filters and features on the site until I began to see a multi-city adventure come together right before my eyes. As it turned out, flying multi-city was saving me more money than if I flew to Europe and back from the same places.
I never would have guessed, and I only found these awesome deals by playing with the Google Flights features.
Pros and Cons of Google Flights
Like any feature on the internet, there are some awesome things to love about Google Flights and maybe a few drawbacks to keep in mind. I’ve outlined a few of each below for you to consider.
Pro #1: It Does all the Internet-Wide Searching on One Page
I’ve used other sites in the past that claim to scour the internet for the best deals, only to wind up with dozens of pop-ups and new tabs that I have to click back and forth between to compare deals.
Not so with Google Flights! They make it easy to feel certain you’re getting the best price because it’s all listed on the same page.
Pro #2: You’re in Charge of Creating the Search Based on Your Needs.
Much of the time, the consumer is looking for the best bang for their buck. That’s usually the first thing I’m thinking about when I start searching for a flight!
But when I start to think about the day of my trip, waking up at 3:00 AM to catch a cab to the airport so I can arrive two hours before my 6:00 AM flight…suddenly I realize I might be willing to pay a bit more so I can get a normal night’s sleep before my vacation begins.
Using the Times feature, I can make sure I’m only seeing search results that will have my flight departing after 9:00 AM. Ah, now that’s better! Now I have time to nurse my coffee without feeling rushed and rise like a normal human, which I’m sure my flight attendant would appreciate.
See Related: Best Weekend Trips from Amsterdam
Pro #3: You Can Compare Flights Based on Stops.
I was booking a flight for a friend to come to visit me over the holidays recently. It occurred to me that while I’m comfortable taking on a long layover to save myself a few bucks (who hasn’t killed a few hours at their gate watching a movie on their phone?) I didn’t want to force my friend to endure the same fate.
After all, I was buying her a gift, and I wanted to make sure that she would be comfortable and have a hassle-free time flying out to see me since she was the one doing the work of cross-country travel.
This kind of customization makes booking flights much less anxiety-inducing for me.
Pro #4: Your Inner-nerd will have a field day with the Date Grid.
So this pro tip might be specific to me and my love of numbers, but I bet you too get a sense of satisfaction when you can look at a chart and feel you’re making a good decision based on the data.
Nerds unite! They say certain days are cheaper to fly than others. When I don’t overly care if I fly back on a Tuesday night versus Wednesday morning, this grid helps me see if I’m saving any money by considering alternate travel dates.
Pro #5: Flight Cost Trends are Easy to Understand Using the Price Graph.
In another nerdy insight, I enjoy scanning the price graph to see when my trip is above or below the average prices.
Especially if I’m trying to determine if I want to go visit family the first weekend in April or the last weekend in May, looking at this helps me see the trend and make my decision.
Con #1: You Might Need to be a Little Tech-Savvy to Fully Appreciate and Utilize all the Features.
While Google search, in general, tends to be pretty user-friendly, no website is perfectly navigable for all users. If you’re just looking for the main features to book a more traditional flight, it’s very simple and easy to use.
Many customizable options can take some practice to get the best use out of them. Multi-city flights without connections between every city are possible, but this option is not indicated anywhere on the multi-city search option.
I sort of accidentally stumbled onto it in my search, and was excited when I did! If you go for this option, be sure to immediately book your train from Paris to Amsterdam next, before you forget and end up panicking in Paris with no train ticket! Or is that just me?
Con #2: Like Many Travel Booking Sites, Prices May Change Based on Your Searches.
If you’re an avid traveler and have booked many flights, you’ve probably noticed that it seems like prices go up a few days after the first time you search for a flight.
While many travel websites and agencies deny it, it would seem that data tracking and algorithms do have an impact on the prices that are displayed when you return to a search multiple times. I can’t prove it, but I do suspect Google Flights does the same thing.
However, Google Flights does have an additional feature that may help to maximize your savings. You can now select this option, which will notify you when prices are at their ideal range.
See Related: Can You Use Data on a Plane?
Google Flight’s Key Features
As Google Flight takes off in popularity, they continue to offer more features than ever.
Search Options Beyond just Flights
Google has more in the way of travel arrangements than just flight search functionality. Now you can use Google to book even more of your travel plans all in the same place.
These options can help you discover things to do or find a hotel or vacation rental.
You Can Specify Your Preferences
As I’ve mentioned regarding my trip to Europe and buying my friend a flight as a gift, Google has a lot of customizable options to make your flight search exactly the way you want it to be.
Maybe you want to treat yourself to business or first class or want to rack up miles for your favorite airline rewards program. Both of these are an option using Google flights.
Google Flights Offers Suggestions for Your Trip That Can Save You Time and Money.
Check this out: say I want to fly to New York City and have only ever flown in and out of the JFK airport. Maybe I’m not aware that there are other airports in the area, so I go ahead and type in “JFK” to the search engine.
Google Flights will automatically try to suggest that I consider a nearby airport so I can save some money. This takes the guesswork out of flying on a budget, especially when it’s to a new city or country.
I can also just type in the city, state, or country I want to fly to, and it will give me the drop-down menu options to select an airport or simply see all the flights that will take me to the cheap destination I’m after.
The Google Flights Explore-View Allows You to Compare Tons of Cities all at Once
This is the search feature that first clued me into how complex Google Flights was if I just took the time to explore its options. I could then start taking my notes to see which cities were super cheap to fly in and out of. To access this, simply go to google.com/travel/explore.
You can zoom in and the data will change, giving you more options and details. Or if you want to take a two-week trip but don’t know when or where you want to go, you can simply start a search based only on time, like this.
Besides this filter, it will automatically show you places you can fly to from your departure city and a price estimate.
Potential Trips Based on Your Google Searches
Let’s say your friend mentioned they have always wanted to check out Colorado, and so you did a quick Google search of Denver to see what it was all about. You may have forgotten about that, but Google didn’t!
Thanks to the magic of the new data algorithms, Google will take a simple Google search and put together an entire page of information and travel prices and tips.
Just go to google.com/travel to see a whole list of suggestions based on your recent searches. It would almost be spooky if it didn’t make things so darn convenient!
It will even offer you price comparisons and other handy charts. I hope many more people can find great deals and take the trips they’ve always had on their “bucket list” because of these ultra-useful tools!
I learn something new every time I use Google Flights, and they’re always coming up with ways to improve the user experience.
See Related: Cheapest Places to Fly Around the World
How Google Flight Search Stacks Up, In My Opinion.
Here I want to break down for you how Google Flight Search stacks up against the competition.
I’ll rank each category out of 5 points, 5 being the best and 1 being poor, and then offer my overall score.
● Ease-of-Use (4 out of 5)
Google Flights is incredibly intuitive. The fact you can tap in a city name and immediately start seeing what flights are available makes researching a future trip a total breeze.
I think that Google Flights takes the guesswork out of planning air travel, and its interface is easy to understand and navigate.
The only reason I can’t give this a 5 out of 5 is because of what I mentioned above in my honest list of cons, which is that all the customizable options could detract from the experience of less internet-savvy users.
● Features (5 out of 5)
Here I can confidently give a rating of 5 out of 5. The features on Google Flights address every imaginable customizable option, right down to how many bags I want to check and my preferred duration of travel.
I can’t think of a single thing I wish they’d add to the filters that don’t already exist.
● Customer Service (3 out of 5)
I’m giving Google Flights a lower rating for customer service only because there isn’t any customer assistance when it comes to booking airfare.
When booking directly through an airline, you’ll be dealing with their customer service team, not Google’s.
This simplifies things in terms of keeping the intermediary out of the customer’s affairs, but it also means that customers are somewhat left to their own devices.
This leaves customers without aid from, say, a virtual travel bot to answer questions over chat that can direct you to a person if you were to need some help.
● Value for Money (5 out of 5)
Because in my case I’ve found nothing but savings from using Google Flights, I can’t see myself using any other platform to book my future adventures.
The entire function of this interface is to compare prices first and foremost, looking at various dates and other locations to give you the best savings.
Verdict (4 overall out of 5)
Overall, Google Flights gets a high score of 4 out of 5 for me. It’s not a perfect tool but it certainly comes close. If I know anyone who is planning to travel anytime soon, I’m quick to tell them to “just Google it.”
I know that they’re going to find a great deal fast and be able to book with ease.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some of the top questions you may find yourself asking about using Google Flights. I hope these answers are helpful and informative.
Please let me know if I missed anything so I can help you best utilize Google Flights. You’re on your way to booking your most epic adventure yet!
Can you search everywhere on Google Flights?
The short answer is yes, you can! Anywhere that has flights available to book will show up on Google Flights.
However, technically you can’t fly everywhere through Google Flights, since (and I checked!) there are no available flights available to the public to fly to Antarctica.
Helpfully, though, Google does inform you if you’re looking for a flight to a place that has flight restrictions. During these uncertain travel times, this can be very helpful before you drop a lot of money on a place that has border restrictions, like Australia.
Does Google have a flight app?
How does booking flights on Google work?
Once you’ve carefully selected your preferred filters and compared your most important wants and needs–duration, dates, price, etc–you click on the flight you want to book.
If you’re flying round-trip, you’ll be prompted to select your departure flight and then your return flight. Should you be flying multi-city, you’ll be prompted to select each leg of the journey one at a time.
Once you’ve made your selections, Google will provide links to book your flights through Google if the option is there, or through the airline. If there are separate airlines, there will be a link to follow to book each flight. You’ll be redirected to a new tab or window to finish the purchase.
How do I find nearby airports on Google Flights?
It’s super easy to find what airports are available in a city. All you have to do is type in the city, state, country, or even a nearby landmark.
Then, Google Flights will automatically include all nearby airports in the search. This takes some of the big guesswork out of where you need to fly in and out to go somewhere.
For example, this is how I learned that to visit the great Yellowstone National Park, you usually have to fly into a major airport a couple of hours away and find alternative transportation to get to the park.
That is unless you can afford the airfare to the tiny local airport. I had no idea! Most visitors fly into Colorado and take a rental car or shuttle, rather than pay premiums for the more private style flights.
What is the best day to look for cheap Flights?
I’ve found that the best prices are generally for flights on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and–surprisingly enough–Saturdays (because that’s the day everyone wants to be at their destination already!).
There was once an internet myth that said it mattered which day of the week you booked a flight on.
Once upon a time, that day was rumored to be Tuesday.
But nowadays, rather than waiting around, it’s best to go ahead and book whenever you come across a good deal. It doesn’t matter or make a difference what day of the week it is when you find it. You’re not guaranteed to find a better rate just because you wait around for the right day of the week.
Can I search multiple airports on Google Flights?
Absolutely! This is the point that I hope I’ve driven home for you, you can use Google Flights in extremely customizable ways to find and plan the best epic quests.
If you want to compare flights from different cities, the first thing you have to do is click the little plus sign in the departures box. Then, go ahead and type in the cities you’re thinking about flying out of. It will populate options in the drop-down, which you can select accordingly to continue your search.
Is it safe to book flights through Google?
Google is a reliable third party that has some of the best data security in the world. While no website is perfectly protected from hacking or other scary internet-age woes, you can rest assured that Google is doing everything to ensure that your data is secured.
Whether you pay through Google directly or simply use the search function to find available flights and then complete the transaction through an airline, it’s safe to book through Google.