Here at HEC-TV, we are obsessed and heavily promote travel (just watch our Passports program) and chances are you’re familiar with Google Flights. The travel search engine does everything you assume it would, like locate flights based on your ideal outbound time, inbound time and number of stops. After all, it’s the same technology that powers both KAYAK and Orbitz.
The site also includes a whole host of features that aren’t so easy to imagine, probably because they’re so unimaginably amazing. In some cases, this online tool can beat out any human travel agent. Don’t believe us? Check out these seven tricks below.
1. Get alerts when prices are about to skyrocket.
If you’re using Google Flights on your phone, you may see pop-up notifications that tell you when prices are likely to increase for specific flights. The notifications aren’t available on every route, and you can’t control when they appear, but they’re a handy way to predict how much time you have left to book before prices jump. Pay attention when you see them!
2. Don’t know where to go? Search for a general region, and see a map of specific flight prices.
Just Google “flights to Europe” and click the Flights tab below the search box. A map of the entire continent will pop up, along with prices. You’ll be able to compare how much it would cost to fly to London versus Paris — and you can even filter the options by type of airline, duration of flight and price you’re willing to pay.
What “I’m feeling lucky” does for search, it also does for flights. Click on a map within Google Flights, pick your departure spot, and click the “I’m Feeling Lucky” button to let Google choose a destination based on your search history and what’s popular. You’ll also see a bar graph letting you know when flights will be at their cheapest.
The “best flights” box tells you which flights are the best combinations of price and speed, so you won’t have to decide whether a layover is a good idea or if a nonstop is worth the extra buck. Google also highlights its top pick in green. It’s like having your very own travel agent say, “If I were you, I’d do this.”
You can see prices for your trip on every day of the month, with the cheapest days highlighted in green. A bar graph at the bottom lets you know how prices will likely drop or rise over time.
If you search for a flight that has a similar yet less expensive option, the “tip” bar lets you know how much money you’ll save if you’re willing to fly earlier, later or from a different airport. Then you can weigh the cost and decide!
If you find a flight you like, then hit the “save this itinerary” button and let the Google Now app track its pricing. You can hit the app on your phone to see how prices are changing, and Google will email you if they dip dramatically.