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Google makes award flight searches easier

by on Fri May 2, 2014 • 4 Comments

Searching for awards can be a pain when airline websites don’t give you the results you want. They often choke up when multiple connections are involved, missing opportunities for you to find a valuable award or to avoid things like British Airways fuel surcharges.

One tactic that helps you find awards is to search for nonstop flights from airports you hadn’t considered. If you’re going to Europe or Asia the problem you’re trying to solve is getting an award seat over the ocean, since getting to an airport in the US that has that flight is easier.

For example, let’s say you live in Dallas and all the nonstop flights to Europe are not available for awards. But what if you could get yourself to Washington D.C., Boston, or even Tampa?

These cities all have flights to Europe and might have award seats available.

But it’s hard to remember all the flights airlines operate from each airport.

Google is making that easier.

One way is to go to Google Flights and use its flight map feature.

1. Select a one-way search and a date

2. Enter the airport you’re interested in

3. Choose ‘nonstop’ and the airline alliance of the miles you’re trying to use

Screen Shot 2014-04-29 at 7.24.30 AM

It will then give you a map with all of the nonstop destinations in the alliance from your airport. The only trick is you’ll need to zoom in to see all of them. Here’s an example of OneWorld destinations from Europe. Nonstop destinations are in dark blue with prices next to them.

Screen Shot 2014-04-29 at 7.24.03 AM

You can click on a city and get details for nonstop flights showing the times and airlines that operate them, though you can ignore the prices.

Screen Shot 2014-04-29 at 7.30.01 AM

Another short hand option is available, though it seems to be spotty for some users, possibly based on location settings.

If you do a Google search for the name of an airport city and “flights” you’ll get a list of all the non-stop destinations and the airlines that fly them for a particular airport.

For example, searching for “Boston Flights”…

Screen Shot 2014-04-28 at 3.24.25 PM

pulls up this list…

Screen Shot 2014-04-28 at 3.24.30 PM

You’ll see that Delta has a non-hub flight to Amsterdam from Boston, which might be an option you hadn’t considered for an award routing. You can find out if it’s available by doing a one-way search for an award on from Boston to Amsterdam. Then, you can piece together other flights to complete your award plan.

There are some catches…

Washington Dulles and National only pop up if you search for “Washington flights”

But New York’s individual airports show up by airport name like “JFK flights” or “La Guardia flights”

It would be easier if Google let you put in an airport code like “SAN” or “IAD” and the word “flights” to make the list appear, but play around a bit and you’ll get just about any airport to show up.

It’s also good for obscure non-U.S. airports. For example, here’s the list for Palermo in Sicily.

Screen Shot 2014-04-28 at 3.48.07 PM

Of course it would be great if Google let you do award searches across all airlines, but the airlines aren’t in any mood to let that happen anytime soon. They control that information.

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4 thoughts on Google makes award flight searches easier

  1. Miles

    I live in Austin, and when I do a Google search form ‘Maui flights’ (without the quotes) it shows me a list of the airlines that fly between Austin and Maui (with prices). None of these are non-stop.

    1. MileCards

      @Miles – Seems buggy with location logic. Discovered a better way with visual maps that show you all the nonstop flights – described above now.

  2. farbster

    Not sure if this is new?I always used to google “nonstop flights to XYZ” but found that it would try to use your computer location and find nonstop flights from “home airport” to XYZ.

    I then would just google “nonstop flights from XYZ” and it would give me a nice list.

    What you have posted is easier 🙂



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