Previously we spoke about a more advanced booking system called ITA Matrix, which was created for frequent flyers to manually find the best flight for themselves. The system is a bit confusing for everyday users and requires a bit of coding as well, this being airport codes and airline codes. Fortunately, thanks to Google, they have introduced a user-friendly booking system for those individuals who don’t travel as often.
So let’s head over to the Google Flights homepage. Very simple layout. As for every travel search website, you will need to enter your home, destination, the date of departure and date of return.
I plugged in Ottawa for my location of departure and just a couple of random dates. You can see that I did not plug in a destination. At the bottom of the page, Google then suggests a few popular destinations for me and some cheap flights that are happening at the moment. Looks like there’s cheap flights to Vancouver, Canada for $644 and Orlando, Florida for $518.
What I really like about this concept are the background pictures they used for each of these destinations as for myself, this is really eye-catching, and I would most likely fall into one of these visual traps of booking with one of the suggested places.
Now for the destination location I’m just going to type in Hong Kong (HKG). These are the results that I get. Automatically, Google Flights will sort your results from the lowest price to the highest (of course you can change this to your preference); for the cheapest flight you can see that it will cost us $1,616 for a round trip flying with Air Canada and Air China. If you look at the very top, you can see that there is a “Tip” made by Google Flights which makes a suggestion for you to book three days later and return three days later, which will bring your flight down to $1,233 for a round trip. I find this function extremely helpful as sometimes I begin my searches with random plug-ins and work from there to find the cheapest flights. This makes it much easier for me (and less work).
On the right side in the previous photo you will see an “Expand Map” button. If you click on it, it will bring you to an enlarged map of your destination and also give you a small spreadsheet on the left side of the costs of flights from 10 days before you wish to leave to 10 days after you wish to leave. Let’s zoom in on this section a little bit.
Let’s do a hover over one of the lower bars. You can see that Google Flights suggests that if you leave on Sunday, August 16th to Tuesday, August 25th, your trip will essentially be relatively cheaper, clocking in at $1,221 for the round trip. We’ll click on that flight.
Google Flights gives us another tip letting us know that this is the cheapest flight we will find within three days of the departure date we wished to leave (at least we know we’re getting the best price!).
If you’re looking to earn points on a specific airline loyalty program, you can always narrow your search by choosing the appropriate airline to fly with.
Within each alliance, you can also choose specific airlines you wish to fly with, or specific airlines you do not wish to fly with. This can bring down your search quite a bit if price is not the main priority of this trip.
Another option you can choose when searching with Google Flights is filtering the connection. If you do not wish to connect in a particular airport, you can specify this. Contrarily, you can do the same with the airports you do wish to have a connection in. You can also choose how long you would like to restrict your connection to be by operating the sliding bar function at the top. This is extremely easy to use. Other options you have are the number of stops you wish to have, the price you wish to pay for the ticket, and the time you wish to leave for your flight.
Let’s bring ourselves back to the map overview section. As you can see, Google Flights allows you to look at other places around the world and approximately how much a flight to that location will cost. Flying to Singapore will cost us $1,538 and Tokyo clocking in at $1,355; looks like we locked in a cheap ticket to Hong Kong. You can definitely use this function to your advantage. For example, if flying to Taiwan is cheaper than flying to Hong Kong, you can fly to Taiwan and take a discounted airline to Hong Kong. However, this does require a bit of research on your own.
One of the greatest features about Google Flights is its ability to predict the type of locations you wish to go to. As soon as you start typing the first few letters, it will make suggestions of locations to you. Most of the time, they got this. You can also add a few criteria filters together to find the best flight for yourself. For example, you can search for the best time plus the best price simultaneously in your initial search.
A downfall to Google Flights is that it is primarily used as a searching tool as you are unable to book directly on the site. You will have to link out to a third-party site in order to purchase the flight. Like other online booking websites, Google Flights doesn’t offer a search function for hotels, car rentals and vacation packages.
The bottom line is, Google Flights is really fast in comparison to competing online booking websites. The moment you start typing, Google Flights is already making predictions as to where you are planning to go. Your results appear in seconds. Finally, it is visually easy to look at; immediately, you will be able to indicate which flight results are most significant to you.