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Google Flights is one of the most powerful and fast ways to hone in on the cheapest options for flights.
And while the default search is great, if you play around some, you’ll find great ways to scour and discover even better fares an options than you thought possible.
You can ask for help in the comments, but here are some ways to get creative.
If you are flexible about where you want to travel, don’t specify a destination in your search. Google Flights will display a map view showing prices to various cities around the world.
These prices are based upon searches that other people have found, so it is not guaranteed that the price indicated will still be valid (especially in the case of flash sales or mistake fares), but you can generally get a good idea of the price to fly to various destinations on the dates you have specified.
This can be especially helpful if you know where you want to go, but can get to the region by flying elsewhere for much less.
Looking at the map above, let’s say that you want to travel to Munich. The map highlights the cheapest prices, and flying into Munich costs $736. But if you fly to Frankfurt you can pay just $500.
There are lots of trains from Frankfurt to Munich, so you might be able to save by getting a cheap train ride instead of paying $236 more in airfare.
If you have some idea of where you want to travel, but aren’t necessarily dead set on one destination, then you should search up to five destinations at once. Just enter them separated by commas in the destination field.
Say, for example, that you want to go to Central America.
You could indicate that you are willing to fly into Belize City (BZE), San José, Costa Rica (SJO), Managua, Nicaragua (MGA), Guatemala City (GUA), or San Salvador, El Salvador (SAL), just to name a few.
Just enter ‘BZE, SJO, MGA, GUA, SAL’ in the destination field.
Likewise, if you have the flexibility to depart from various airports, make sure to enter that into your search parameters as well.
If you are looking to go to a specific destination, keep in mind that there might be more than one airport that is close to that destination.
For example, if you are interested in traveling to London, you could fly into London Heathrow (LHR), London Gatwick (LGW), London Southend (SEN), London Luton (LTN), London City (LCY), or London Stansted (STN).
If you only enter London Heathrow into your search, which is the airport with the most flights into London, you will still be missing out on a lot of flight options into other airports.
To select nearby airports, click on the destination box and type in your ideal airport. Then click the + sign on the right of the destination box to see an automatically generated list of nearby airports.
Let’s look at an example to illustrate this more clearly. Assume you want to fly from JFK to SFO from May 10 – May 17. If that is what you type into your search, these would be your results:
By enabling nearby airports for both the origin, JFK, and the destination, SFO, you can see cheaper options like LGA (LaGuardia) to SJC (San Jose) for $280 roundtrip:
Instead of selecting specific dates, look at the prices on the monthly calendar.
Make sure you click on individual dates, because when you do that the return flight gets repriced and you might see a lower price than the calendar initially displays.
If you have somewhat fixed dates for your trip with a little bit of flexibility, you should look at the flexible date search.
Flexible date search allows you to see if shortening or lengthening your trip by a few days or shifting your trip can save you money or offer a better itinerary.
Just click on the ‘Flexible dates’ tab to see options.
Sometimes it’s easier to look at a price graph instead of the award calendar, especially for trips that are flexible in length.
It is very easy to adjust the length of a trip in the Price Graph view which means you can search multiple trip lengths very quickly.
As a bonus, the graph view will help you easily identify which trip length will save you the most money.
You can use the explore destinations feature on Google Flights to search by various interested you might have.
For example, if you are interested in having a relaxing beach vacation, simply tell Google Flights your dates of travel and that you are interested in beaches. From there, Google Flights will display a bunch of beach options along with the price to get there.
If you want to narrow your search one step further, tell Google Flights the region you are interested in traveling to in addition to your interest. Say you want to take your daughter to Europe for the first time and want to combine that with some wildlife spotting.
Again, just input that information and Google Flights will come back to you with several suggestions and price points.
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