There are plenty of options and search engines out there to find a cheap flight. Maybe you’ve got a favorite tool like Skyscanner, Hopper, or another online travel agency. But in our opinion, there’s a clear winner to find the cheapest flight possible: Google Flights.
There’s no stronger search engine to start your search for a cheap flights. It’s our favorite way to find the flight deals you find here on ThriftyTraveler.com and through Thrifty Traveler Premium. Google Flights is a robust tool, with some powerful features to help zero in on the best prices. And it’s got a bevy of filters that can help you narrow down the specific flight you really want.
We’ll show you some of the best tips and tricks to book your next cheap flight at the lowest price. When you’re done, you’ll never use another flight search engine again.
How to Find Google Flights?
This is the easy part. Start your flight search by visiting: google.com/flights.
The homepage is user-friendly and provides immediate updates based on selections you may make in regards to your departure location, travel destination, dates & more.
- The Menu: on the top left corner (three dashes), gives you shortcuts to Search Flights, Explore Map (also known as Explore Destinations) and Tracked Prices (where you can track price changes for a flight). This is a great option when you have specific dates in which you need to travel. You can track flights on any airline and you will be notified immediately by email when prices change.
- Flight Search: this is where you can enter information to start your flight search. You can provide any of the following:
- Departure Airport: You can choose up to five departing locations to find cheap flights
- Destination: You can choose up to five locations to fly to
- Dates of Travel
- Type of Trip: Roundtrip, One Way, or Multi-City
- Numbers of Passengers: Adults, children, infants in seats and infants in laps
- Airline Class: Economy, Premium Economy, Business Class & First Class. Note that there is not a “Basic Economy” filter at this time. However, you can use this trick to remove most Basic Economy fares from your search.
- If you see a fare in the color green throughout the platform, know that this is showing you the lowest airfare for the dates or duration you are seeking.
- Popular Destinations: on the bottom left, Google recommends some top destinations based on the location you are departing from.
- Explore Destinations: on the bottom right, can give you ideas for the cheapest place to fly anytime you want to get away. It’s one of our absolute favorite features.
Filter Down to Fit Your Travel Needs
Sometimes we have preferences for our travel. Looking to take a first-class flight for your honeymoon? Only want to depart out after a certain time? Only want to fly a specific airline? Don’t worry, Google Flights has taken these things into consideration.
Here are all of the things you can filter when searching to find a specific flight:
- Overhead Bin Access: This new feature is a way to filter out most Basic Economy Fares. Basic Economy fares that allow free carry-on bags (like Delta or American Airlines) will still be included.
- Number of Stops: You can select how many stops you’re willing to make during your trip or note if you only want nonstop flights. You can also filter out flights with extra-long layovers.
- Price: You can set the maximum price you want to pay for a flight.
- Times: Only want to depart in the morning? Or know you must arrive by a certain time? Use this filter to identify flights that fit the departure and arrival times that work for you
- Airlines: Whether you have airline loyalty or are looking to finally take a flight on a five-star premier airline, you can use the Airline filter to only see flights for specific airlines or alliances that you seek.
- Baggage: Need to make sure you get a checked bag or a carry-on for your fare? Filter out the tickets that don’t get you the bags you need.
- Flight Duration: Have a maximum length you’re willing to be a plane? This is an important feature that will filter out fares with longer layovers.
- Separate Tickets: You can determine whether or not you are open to flying on separately booked tickets (for instance fly out to a destination on one airline and return on another) or note that you only want to see tickets booked on the same itinerary.
Bonus: If you’re using Google Chrome, add the Legrooms extension to your browser. This handy plug-in will automatically show you how much legroom you’ll get on the plane, what kind of aircraft you’ll be on, whether you’ll get WiFi or power and seatback entertainment, and a handy icon showing if a carry-on will be included in your fare or not.
Let Google Flights Find the Cheapest Getaway For You
Not sure where you want to go? Know you want to travel somewhere in June but need ideas? The “Explore Destinations” feature is a great way to find flight deals during your dates of travel. Here are some tips on how to use “Explore Destinations”:
- Enter your departure city and a destination as specific (or as broad) as you want to check out. California, United States, Europe, South America – they’ll all work.
- Select the dates you’d like to travel or select flexible date guidelines. Play around with travel dates, as pricing can greatly fluctuate.
- Move the map around to see new destinations and prices.
- Once you find a destination that you’d like to explore further, click the name of the city, then “View Flights” and it will populate the search information with flight options and additional details.
- If you see a fare in the color green throughout Google Flights, know that this is showing you the lowest airfare for the dates or duration you are seeking.
Set Alerts to Track Price Changes on Google Flights
If you’ve ever stressed about the price of your flight increasing (or dropping), Google Flights has you covered. You can monitor daily changes to airfare with Price Alerts.
Start by searching for the flights you want. You can narrow it down as far as you want, drilling down to just one preferred airline. Or leave it wide open and look for the cheapest fare possible. Then just turn on price tracking with the toggle button below the search bar.
The one requirement for getting these alerts is that you need a Gmail account. Once price tracking is on, you’ll get emails from Google Flights whenever the price rises or drops significantly. You can also view all your tracked flights from the Google Flights menu bar – just click “Tracked flight prices.”
Use Google Flights to Book a Flight Featured on Thrifty Traveler Premium
You can find the cheapest flights all on your own. But it’s also the best way to find the absolute best deal on a cheap international flight alert we send you via Thrifty Traveler Premium.
Here’s a look at how you can use our alerts to find the cheapest flight possible.
Thrifty Tip: Don’t have Premium yet? Learn more about how Thrifty Traveler Premium works.
Google Flights should be your go-to tool to book your next trip. We search thousands of flights every day, and it is without a doubt the most robust tool to find amazingly cheap fares.
It’s leaps and bounds better than any other flight searching tool and it’s the key ingredient in what makes Thrifty Traveler Premium such a powerful and easy-to-use service.
Editorial Note: Any opinions, analyses, reviews, or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any card issuer.