Use Google Flights to find the best deals
When you type “book flight website” into Google, you’ll get a list of websites such as cheaptickets.be, ebookers, Expedia, Kayak.com, etc. But you may be overlooking one of the most powerful search engines & user-friendly website out there: Google Flights.
While it had been launched in 2011 (who knew), it was ‘relaunched’ last year and got some really exciting features added which I want to highlight here.
Search for flights with Google Flights
At first glance, everything looks quite familiar: you need to enter departure airport(s) and destination(s), preferred dates, travel class (economy, premium economy, business or first class, number of travellers, … = nothing new here.
You can also enter multiple airports into one box, use airport codes such as “BRU, AMS, DUS” and Google Flights will consider flights from Brussels Airport, Amsterdam Schiphol & Düsseldorf. You can also click the “+” and select other nearby airports (e.g. Rotterdam, Liège, …).
If you’re unsure what the airport code is, use Google and enter: “IATA CODE HEATHROW” (replace Heathrow with your airport/city).
Discover or Explore destinations
But what if you haven’t decided yet where to go? Let Google Flights inspire you.. Scroll down the page to “Discover destinations”, here you can narrow down your search and select dates (weekend, 1 week, 2 weeks,…), places (continent, region or country) or even interests such as adventure travel, beaches, culture, ecotourism, food (although it doesn’t list San Sebastián! – what a pity), honeymoon, islands, shopping, …
But, my absolute favourite feature is Explore Map which enables you to browse a map in search of the perfect deal! Just click on the map and you’ll see cities with prices next to them, you can zoom, scroll, …
I was looking for a weekend trip at the end of June and with no specific destination in mind, I clicked on a few cities and was able to find cheap flights to Bratislava for only €70 round-trip – with great flight times! There may still be a few seats left 😉
As you may have noticed, at the top of the picture you can select your preferences such as Stops (Any, none, 1 , 2) , Price (Max), Airline (Alliances), Flight times, … to further narrow down the options.
Browse dates for best ticket prices
Looking for the cheapest flights to a specific destination but you haven’t set a date yet?
Click the “31” next to your date (highlighted in example above) to open the calendar which will display two months at a time! I prefer Calendar view, but perhaps Flexible dates or Price graph works better for you.
That’s how I found a great deal to to Moscow for only €136 – but sometimes it’s even cheaper!
Example – how far can you go?
Let’s say you’re taking a few weeks off from work and you’re planning a trip to Southeast Asia. You’re looking for flights leaving on Saturday June 11th, but it doesn’t matter whether the flight leaves from Amsterdam, Brussels, Düsseldorf or even Luxembourg, as long as it’s after 14:00 and you only have to connect once (max).
Unfortunately, you’ll be flying in economy class, but because of your Star Alliance Gold status you would still have access to the lounge and perhaps a chance for an upgrade.
You’re only booking a one-way ticket now because you want to leave your options open and it doesn’t really matter where you start your Asian journey as long as it’s somewhere near a beach. So for now, you want to stare at a map and dream about what adventures may come.
All that information squeezed into one search query:
And exactly that is the power of Google Flights: customization, flexibility and saving time.
While several hotel chains & airlines are trying hard to have customers book directly on their website by offering “member only” discounts – they might want to shift some of the budget that is being spent on Marketing campaigns to further enhance their website or ameliorate the search/booking experience which very often leaves a lot to be desired: 404 errors, incomplete results, too many clicks to find what you’re looking for, unresponsive websites,…
However many “third-party” or OTA websites are already doing a great job, but Google Flights really takes the cake here because there’s so much valuable information that you can enter into one simple search query without having to tweak results afterwards or by clicking around.
Note that you cannot book directly on Google Flights, instead you will be redirected to other websites to confirm your booking.
Now that you’ve found your flights, read the Complete Guide to Cheap Luxury Travel to find the perfect hotel!
I absolutely love Google Flights – it’s one of my go-to websites – Google really won me over when they launched Google Trips a few days ago.
Featured image: Ethiopian Airlines 787-8 Business class