Google Flights is a convenient tool to help any traveler find a great flight. Many people first encounter Google Flights in a search result:
You might not know Google Flights is a fully-featured and compelling flight search tool, even for complicated itineraries. This article describes the core features of Google Flights. If you are already familiar with Google Flights and are interested in reliably finding great deals, check out Reliably Find Great Deals On Google Flights.
Google Flights also offers the ability to search for flights between specific airports on a specific day with a specific carrier. Since basic flight search is consistent across all flight search tools, this post will focus on other core features of Google Flights.
To get started, visit https://www.google.com/flights or click on a Google Flights search result.
Explore Map: Finding Where To Fly To
One of the best features of Google Flights is the slightly-hidden explore tab, useful for finding where to fly to. To reach the Explore Map, open the Hamburger Menu (the ☰ in the top-left) and click on the Explore Map option.
I frequently fly to Europe on American Airlines (see Why I Choose American Airlines After 100,000 Miles), so my search may look something like:
The Explore Map will quickly help you identify which locations are feasible for you to visit given any travel parameters you may have. I often look for deals to cities I haven't visited yet.
Flight Search Features
Once you select a city to fly to, like London from Chicago, you will be using the Search interface:
Unlike other tools there are a few additional features to help you figure out what is the best flight for you beyond the expected search parameters. Below the search and filters, there are three tools to help you find a great flight: Price Graph, Data Grid, and Nearby Airports.
All the tools below take into account your search parameters and search filters. Make sure you set your search first before diving into the details of flights available!
Price Graph: Finding The Best Month To Fly
The Price Graph is a perfect tool for quickly learning airline pricing trends. Here is a price graph for a flight to Paris:
In this scenario the Price Graph shows Friday's are consistently the most expensive day to fly, with Sunday through Tuesday as the least expensive.
Data Grid: Finding The Best Day To Fly
The Data Grid is the best way to find which departure and return dates are best. First, select a departure and return date close to when you want to fly by clicking the Departure date or return date field. A calendar popup like the one below will show (you might need to wait a second for the prices to load in):
I used the calendar to quickly spot a deal, but the calendar falls short of helping you plan the best trip. The price of a flight considers both the departure date and return date. Modifying dates is slow to do using the calendar experience, so instead use the Data Grid.
After selecting dates, click Data Grid to show a matrix with departure date on the x axis and return date on the y axis:
The Data Grid shows the lowest cost flight given a specific departure date and return date. You can move one day at a time on each axis. When you find a good option, click the cell and it will turn blue indicating those dates have been selected.
Nearby Airports: Finding The Best Place To Land
If you are not tied to a specific airline, or are taking a shorter flight by a local carrier, nearby airports is the best tool to figure out where to land. Clicking on Nearby Airports brings up a popup:
Here you can quickly identify which airports are close enough to the city or region you want to fly to and which of those airports has a flight at the best price.
One worry you may have is taking a cheaper flight but landing at an airport far away from your final destination. With Nearby Airports, you can enable and disable certain airports for your flight search to ensure you don’t accidentally select a flight landing at a far airport.
Finding The Best Flight
If you are interested in learning more about Google Flight, check out Reliably Find Deals On Google Flights which goes into detail about using Google Flights to discover hard-to-find deals that you can easily miss elsewhere. Good luck!