How to use Google Flights to find deals

How to use Google Flights to find deals

We’re always banging on about Google Flights and how great it is, mostly due to its powerful calendar tool. It makes it really easy to find the best dates and prices for your trip, and this guide will show you how to use it to find your own holidays from the deals we share.

If you’re not here from a deal we’ve shared, follow this link to Google Flights to get started. Just enter your departure airport and destination, then hit ‘Search’. This will take you to where the magic really happens!

Most of the features you need can be found at the top of the page:

In the top left you can choose a single or round trip, the number of passengers and your cabin class. The boxes below are where you enter your departure and arrival airports, with the departure and arrival dates on the left, while the filter options are found in the drop-down menus below. We’ll explain how to use them in the following sections.

How to find more deal dates on Google Flights

Clicking the ‘example itinerary link (Google Flights)’ button in one of our emails will take you to a Google Flights page showing an example trip for the deal we’ve shared.

To open the calendar, click on either of the date boxes in the top right of the screen. These dates are the days you currently have selected to leave (on the left) and come home (on the right). They’ll be highlighted in blue to show the trip you currently have selected below.

You can clear the dates and start again by clicking ‘Reset’, seen in blue to the left of the date boxes.


The arrows highlighted above in red let you skip forward to the next month. For example, clicking the right-hand arrow above would move the calendar forward to display prices for March and April.

You can see the trip length editor in the bottom left of the expanded calendar. It’s really useful to try adjusting this for your plans when browsing, the prices will update to reflect the cost for each departure day based on your selection. Playing with this setting will often reveal many more trips at the price we’ve shared.

Click ‘Done’ to show the available flights for your chosen dates. 

How to set your departure and arrival airport

If you want to see flights from a different airport, you can simply and quickly change it on the fly. To enter a new departure airport, click the “Where from” box on the left side of the page, delete the airport that is already there and type in the airport you’d like to leave from. 


You can choose your destination in the box to the right, “Where to?”, by entering the airport code or the city name.


The search results will update automatically to show prices for the new route.

If you live near more than one airport or there are several places you’d be happy to fly to, you can add several departure or arrival airports by clicking the + in the search field:


You can then type in another city name or airport code, or choose one of the airports suggested:

 

You can search from/to a maximum of five airports at a time. Results will automatically update to show you the best options for your departure and arrival options. You can see the corresponding route info below the flight duration:

 

How to book

Once you’ve decided on a trip, the search results you’ll see at the top are those Google Flights considers the best, with other more expensive or less convenient flights further down. To see the full details of each flight, click the arrow on the right to expand the details:

If you’re happy with the outbound flight, hit ‘Select flight’ to continue and see the options for the return flight. Select again and you’ll be shown a summary of your trip and the price.

From here, you have a few different options:

1. Book directly with the airline.

To book with the airline, find it in the list of fares at the bottom of the page and click the “Select” button.


You will usually be redirected to details for the same flight on the airline website. Follow the steps from there to complete your booking.

Booking directly with the airline may not always be the cheapest option, but if you think you might need to change your plans later they generally have the best customer service and smaller fees.

2. Book with an online travel agent listed on Google Flights.

Sometimes Google Flights will show you fares from a selection of online travel agents (OTAs). If you’re not worried about making changes, you can click “Select” next to the fare to book with them instead. If you’re wondering whether it’s safe to book with OTAs, you can read our Q&A on the subject here.


3. Check Momondo, Skyscanner or Kayak to see if a lower OTA price is available.

These sites find fares from more Online Travel Agent’s than Google Flights and will often have lower prices available for the same flight. The next section will give you more details about booking through these websites.

How to find cheaper prices on Skyscanner, Momondo or Kayak

If we see cheaper fares on another website with an Online Travel Agent, we’ll suggest some of the travel agent comparison websites to find the lowest fares. You can use our example link as a starting point, or start a fresh search from the suggested website’s homepage.

To make comparing your own itinerary easier, we’ve made a free extension for Chrome, Microsoft Edge and Firefox. The extension sits in the top right-hand corner of your Google Flights search page while you browse for flights.

Clicking “Compare” will open a Skyscanner, Momondo and/or Kayak search with all the relevant information already filled in.



Keep in mind that these websites take a while to load all of the results (sometimes 20-30 seconds).

Each site will show you both the best and cheapest fares for your travel dates at the top of the page.

Example from Skyscanner:


Click on the fare you’d like to see at the top of the list (Best/Cheapest/Fastest), then click ‘Select’/‘View Deal’ to go to the OTA website and book the flight.

These sites don’t always show the same results, so it may be worth checking a couple to make sure you’ve got the best deal. 

How to get a refund

Google Flights is only a search engine for finding flights, although you do sometimes get the option to book “On Google”. In those cases, the airline will provide the customer service for the flight.

Whenever you need to help with a flight you book, you’ll need to contact the airline or OTA directly.

How to use filters on Google Flights

The filters on Google Flights make it easy to narrow your search down to exactly what you’re looking for. They are located under the search field:

You can filter by: 

  • Number of stops - hides routes with more connections
  • Airlines - show only (or exclude) specific airlines or airline alliances.
  • Bags - show fares with cabin/hand luggage included, when they’re usually extra.
  • Price - hides any flights over the price limit you set.
  • Times - filter flights according to the time you want to arrive/depart
  • Connecting airports (includes layover times) - include or exclude airports flights connect in, or filter connection durations by length
  • Flight duration - filters out routes which are longer overall than the limit you choose.
  • Separate tickets (under “More”) - hide flights which need to be booked separately.

To apply a filter, just click on the dropdown arrow and select your preferences.


Give the new results a few seconds to load, then you’ll only see trips that match your filters.

You can use as many filters as you like at once, but Google Flights will stop showing results if there’s nothing left that matches your preferences.

How to tell if bags are included

We’ll tell you in our deals if extras like checked bags and seat selection are included.

If you’re looking for a trip on your own, Google Flights will often show you what’s included in your fare and the cost of upgrading on the summary page before you book. It’ll look something like this:


This doesn’t show up for every route, though, so you may have to check the airline’s website. It’s not a bad idea to check anyway, since Google Flights’ bag information isn’t always 100% accurate.

How to change your currency/country/language

Google usually sets the currency, country, and language automatically. Here’s how to change it if you need to.

At the bottom of the search page, after the list of flight options and prices (and sometimes under hotel suggestions), you’ll see this bar:

Click on the information you’d like to change (‘Language,’ ‘Country’ or ‘Currency’), and it’ll bring up a menu with options like this:

Select your language/country/currency, then click “OK,” and you’re good to go!

What to do if the price changes after you select a date or flight

If you can’t see the price on the calendar in the Google Flights search results, or if the price goes up once you select your flights, the deal might be gone.

There are a few things you can try:

  1. Use a few different dates and trip lengths (see the first section of this guide about finding trip dates).
  2. See if the deal price is still available on Skyscanner, Momondo or Kayak (see the section about finding cheaper prices with these websites).
  3. Click on the link to book through the airline - sometimes the price goes down again when you are redirected to the airline website.

If these tricks don’t work, you’ll just have to wait for the next deal. When you have some specific dates in mind for travel, setting an alert can also be really helpful.

How to set an alert to track prices

To track prices for a specific trip, make sure you have a departure, destination and set of dates selected. 

In the top left-hand corner of the search page (a little above the “Best departing flights” list), you’ll see this little switch:


Click on it to turn on alerts (the switch will change to blue). Once it’s on, you’ll receive emails when the price changes.

How to find more cool places to visit

We highly recommend trying out the Google Flights Explore feature if you are looking for a bit of travel inspiration.

To get there, click on the “Explore” button on the left side of the search page.


Google Flights will take you to a world map which you can pan around on to see destinations all over the world and how much it costs to get there. 


If you want to find out more about finding cheap flights, take a look at our other guides.

Happy flying! :-)