The Complete Step-By-Step Guide: How to Use Google Flights and Save Money
When Google first came out with Google flights, it was a life-changer. And to this day, it’s still the #1 tool I use to save money on airfare tickets.
Google flights is a search tool aggregator that makes it easy to search for flights from anywhere, and anytime to compare prices, dates, and destinations easily.
Here is the Complete Step-by-Step Guide and all that you need to know to search for flights on Google and save money on your next flight!
1. Search for your Travel dates and Destination on Google Flights
First, go to www.flights.google.com to find the available flights inputting your travel dates and destination.
Google Flights lets you compare prices quickly with other airlines. But note it doesn’t provide prices for a few of the airlines. For example, Google Flights does not list Southwest Airlines flights (will be discussed more later).
2. Check Travel Times
It’s really important to note the travel times. Sometimes while a flight may be cheaper early AM on a red-eye flight, if you end up missing the flight, you lose a lot of time, money, and sanity.
Speaking from personal experience, a missed flight is a lot worse than trying to save money on a flight.
If you’re not okay with waking up super early to get to the airport on time, be sure to book a flight later in the day.
I would recommend trying to get an afternoon or evening flight.
3. Check Nearby Airports also
If you know of an airport close by, consider checking prices for nearby airports also. A lot of times it can save you a lot of money!
Take for example, if you’re flying into Oakland (OAK), it may be cheaper to fly into San Francisco (SFO) or even San Jose Airport (SJC)… or Vice Versa.
If you’re flying from Dallas, it may be cheaper to fly from Dallas-Fort Worth Airport (DFW) than Dallas Love Field (DAL).
There are usually other options from nearby airports you just want to check if flights may be cheaper from an alternate airport.
Here’s an example of a flight from Dallas to San Diego. From Dallas Love Field (DAL), prices are around $325.
For the exact same dates, from DFW airport you can find tickets for as low as $194.
Of course, if you need bags it’ll be more expensive with Spirit, but even with the fees, you still would be saving some money!
4. Check Different Dates
One of the most effective ways to save money on your next flight is just if you’re able to be flexible with dates.
The biggest advantage of Google flights is allowing you to check prices on different dates.
I’ve noticed even a few days can change the lowest available price by a few hundred dollars.
Take for example, this simple search I just made from London to Dubai traveling on August 5, returning on August 13.
The lowest ticket price is $652.
The exact same flight is $556 (almost $100 cheaper) if you’re able to leave one day later on August 6, returning on August 13 as well.
The more flexible you are, the more you’re able to play with the dates a bit, which usually will help you save money.
5. Check Airline Reviews
A lot of times Google will pull up a lot of really cheap air tickets. However, the one thing Google Flights doesn’t do is show you airline reviews.
However, it’s just one simple extra step to help you book a more comfortable, better all-around flight.
There are a number of really poor airlines, particularly in smaller countries you just want to avoid altogether.
Believe me when I say, the cost you save really isn’t worth the headache you experience when you travel.
(Courtesy of https://www.claimcompass.eu/blog/airline-ratings-2018/)
6. Check the Baggage Policy Indicator
With so many budget airlines out there that charge extra for baggage, Google added a pretty nifty tool that helps you see whether or not the fare will include baggage or not.
If you see an icon with a baggage crossed out, it means you’ll need to bag for luggage (usually anything other than a personal bag).
If it doesn’t have any icon as such, normally you’ll be allowed check-in or carry on baggage. But be sure to still check the airline’s website directly to find out the baggage policies before you book.
7. Discover Destinations Feature
Have you ever just been dying to go somewhere / anywhere but not sure where?
Google Flights has a pretty cool feature where it pulls up destinations from all over the world and the prices to get to each place departing from where you are.
Just pull up Google Flights. And instead of entering a destination, just enter your ideal travel dates and Google Flights will pull up this map!
If you can’t fly all the way to Tokyo for a weekend, the zoom in on the map, and you’ll find even more locations to travel to closer to where you are.
8. Explore Destinations Feature
Have you ever wanted to know what the most popular things to do are or what to do if you have 1, 2, or 3 days at a destination you’ve never been to?
Google Flights actually also has a pretty neat tool that can be a pretty helpful travel guide.
It gives you a little more information about the destination.
And provides a list of the top things to do that are reviewed/rated by other people.
And even provides suggest day plans depending on how much time you have!
8. Multi-City Feature
I don’t use this feature often but Google Flights has a multi-City tool that allows you to get pricing if you’re traveling to multiple cities.
Personally I just prefer searching for and booking each flight separately. However, this tool can be useful if you’d prefer a one-stop shop where you can still play around with dates and times while inputting in multiple destinations.
9. Booking Direct on Airline Website Vs Aggregator
If you’re given the option of booking either directly through the airline or through a third-party, I would normally choose to book directly with the airline.
The reason for this is because there are a lot more options for booking such as seat selection, meal selection, upgrades, etc.
If you have a frequent flyer account, it’s also easier to input your membership details.
Lastly, booking direct with the airline is usually just safer to ensure you have your ticket confirmed.
10. Consider Using Points
These last few tips aren’t exactly related to Google Flights but I think is relevant and important to keep in mind, even when you use Google Flights.
If you have points to use through a Credit Card or points accrued through frequent flying, a lot of times using points can be a lot more efficient than just finding the best price on Google Flights.
For example, 70,000 points on a number of Credit Cards can get you a Round-Trip ticket to and from Europe/Asia. If you’re traveling in the Summer and tickets are $1,500-$2,000+ for economy seats, if you’re able to find an award flight using points, you’ll save a lot of money.
This is also true for last-minute flights that can be really expensive. If you have points to use, always have it in the back of your mind as a tool to go to in case flight tickets are too expensive.
If you want to find out more on how you can get a lot of credit card points and use points for rewards, you can read my article here.
11. Run a Quick Check on Another Source
I’ve often found cheaper deals than Google Flight through other sites or aggregators such as Cheapo Air. It never hurts to run a quick price comparison to see if there’s an even better deal out there.
The great thing about Google Flights, as mentioned, is how simple and quick it is to find ball park flight prices. But it may not always be the best price available.
It’s also important to note that Google Flights doesn’t cover every airline available. There are a lot of airlines Google flights just doesn’t show prices for.
For example, a large airline in the U.S. that Google Flights doesn’t cover is Southwest Airlines. And sometimes you can find really great deals on Southwest Airlines.
12. Google Hotels
Last, but not least, here’s just one extra tip/tool that’s one of the Google Flights feature.
If you’re traveling, you’ll probably need a hotel or accommodations unless you’re staying with family or friends.
Google hotels is also quite a useful tool that’s built on the Google Flights platform.
You input your travel dates and destination and Google will populate some available deals with hotel ratings.
It’s pretty quick and simple, just like finding flight deals.
Google flights is an incredible tool to help you find better deals on airfare tickets and flights so you can travel more.
But it’s not the only tool out there.
You always want to consider other sources, points, or even a travel agent as well.
If you ever need help with bookings, feel free to leave a comment below or send me an email! I’d be more than happy to help.