Google Flights is one of the most powerful flight search engines on the Internet. It’s straightforward to use, and highly customizable, which makes it a great tool for finding cheap flights.
If you’ve already read our guide to using Google Flights and have mastered the basic skills to find deals, it’s time to turn your attention to some advanced features that can make it easier to find the best flight options for your trip.
With Google Flights you can search multiple airports by inputting up to seven departure and destination airport codes.
Why would you want to do that? Well, let’s say you want to fly from New York to an unspecified destination in Germany for specific dates in August. All you really know is that you want to spend some time exploring Deutschland. You can input the departure airport codes for both JFK and LaGuardia and then add the destination codes for multiple airports in Germany to easily find which one is the cheapest for your trip.
The results will automatically list the best deal at the top. In this case, it’s JFK to Frankfurt.
If you’re flexible with your travel destination, this is a great feature to experiment with to see which destination cities are the cheapest. It also works if your departure city is flexible. For example, if you live south of Orlando, you could put Orlando, Fort Lauderdale, and Miami into the departure fields to find out which airport you should depart from to get the best price.
Say you have a slightly different situation than the one outlined above. You just want to go somewhere, and your dates are pretty open. On the main search page, input your departure airport(s) put leave the destination field empty. Pick some random dates and then click the blue “Search” button.
From there you’ll be shown a map that highlights the cheapest destinations for those dates. But if your dates are wide open, click into the date field and select the button for “Flexible dates.” From there, you can choose a weekend, one week, or two week trip in a specific month or anytime in the next six months.
This is for the flexible traveler who wants to explore all of his/her options. You can see that Google Flights helpfully pulls the best deals and lists them on the left-hand side, and highlights them in green on the map.
Let’s say you have some time off in August to go wherever you please. You want to fly from Atlanta but you’re really not fussy about where you end up, as long as it’s within budget. Under Flexible Dates you can search for a two-week trip in August.
Google automatically pulls these results, starting within the US.
However, if you want to see results beyond the United States, just zoom out on the map.
If there’s a particular area you want to go to, you can move the map to that area, or search per region (or country). In this example, let’s use “Asia.”
Once the results are loaded, you can use the map to zoom in on a particular area you’re most interested in, like Southeast Asia. Finally, you can adjust the price so that your results fit within your budget. Just slide the blue button left or right and you’ll be able to filter out all the extra noise.
Once you have a destination, Google Flights gives you a lot of options for playing around with dates to find the cheapest airfare possible.
As soon as you input your dates, the calendar feature will pop up and show you two months of prices. You can see the cheapest round-trip flight options immediately, and the best deals are highlighted in green. If you click the arrows to the right of the calendar view, you’ll see what’s available in the coming months.
The calendar defaults to 7-day trips, at the bottom left corner of the calendar you can use the arrows to increase or decrease the duration of your trip. When you select DONE, you’ll be taken to your results. At the top of the results, you’ll see the options listed for Date Grid, Price Graph, and Nearby Airports.
The Date Grid takes you to a grid of the cheapest flight combinations. Anything cheaper than your selected flight is highlighted in green. If you click the arrows at the top of the grid, you’ll see more dates.
The Price Graph works in the same way but shows two months of fares in one easy visual. When you select the shortest bar, you’ll see that if you travel between September 4th-19th, your round-trip flight drops to $674. Again, you can change the dates by clicking the arrows on both sides of the graph.
The Airports feature lets you explore other airports near the one you’ve selected. It’ll show you if there is an airport with a different price, as well as information on how to get to your destination from the airport. (It may not be worth the cheaper price if the airport is much further than your other options.)
Play around with these features, and you’ll get plenty of flight options.
Google Flights has a new info box that will pop up in most search results to let you know whether or not you’re getting a good deal. It looks like this:
These insights are based on fares that Google Flights has tracked in the last 12 months for trips in the same season, of similar length, with the same departure and destination points, class, and airline. Maybe it won’t influence your purchase, but at least you’ll know if you’re overspending, like so:
It doesn’t, however, offer insight into when might be a better time to book. You can use the Date Grid or Price Graph for that. And, if you know you have a specific trip to take in the next several months, don't forget to track your flight so you get a price alert if the fare changes.
Google Flights is one of our most recommended flight search sites; it’s easy to use but boasts enough advanced features that you can unearth flights that some other search sites and OTAs (online travel agencies) such and Orbitz and Expedia can’t. And with these advanced tips, it’s even easier to find the best flight—at the best price—for your needs.