How to Use Google Flights

This flight search can show you where the deals are

Google Flights is an airline search engine that lets you input your travel plans and get a detailed list of flight options. While you can find a lot of information on the site, it's most commonly used for finding the cheapest airfare. If you've never used Google Flights before, here's what you need to know.

How to Use Google Flights

To start a search on Google Flights, just enter your desired destinations and dates in the search field. The website immediately shows the latest pricing information.

Alternatively, you can conduct a search from Google's main page. For example, if you live in New York City and want to travel to Los Angeles, simply enter "NYC to Los Angeles" (without quotes) into the Google search engine. The Google Flights widget appears as the first search result.

Google Flights homepage

Try using Google Flights in an incognito mode or private mode browser. This prevents the browser from saving your search in cookies and applying unnecessary price increases after detecting you're in the market for airline tickets.

How to Select the Cheapest Departing Flights on Google Flights

Google Flights shows the best flights first in its search results. The options it considers "best" usually offer a compromise between price and convenience based on factors like duration, number of stops, and more.

Further down the page are other departing flight options, followed by flights with unavailable prices.

Google Flights choose flights

Prices for the absolute cheapest flights appear in green. Keep in mind, these options may be discounted because they have several layovers or very long layovers.

If you immediately find a pricing option you're comfortable with, select it. If you want to shop around for a cheaper price, try one of the following:

Check the Date Grid

You'll find a link to the Date Grid above the Best Departing Flights section. This lets you view a variety of airfares based on travel dates. If your departure and return flights are flexible, you may find much cheaper prices during a different timeframe.

Google Flights Insights

Check the Price Graph

Like the Date Grid, the Price Graph gives an estimate of what prices will look like several weeks to months before or after your flight inquiry. Use the arrows on the left and right to view prices ahead of or beyond the dates you've selected.

Google Flights trends

Check Other Airports

Finally, the Airports link lets you search for prices at multiple airports in your area. Google normally shows results for the largest airport in your area. But, if you're willing to travel to a smaller airport, you might find a better deal there.

Flight Insights airport

How to Select the Cheapest Returning Flights on Google Flights

After selecting a departing flight, Google Flights shows options for returning flights. The cheapest option is highlighted in green. Select it to lock in the price.

Google Flights departing flights

How to Save and Share Google Flight Search and Travel Details

If you're not yet ready to book your flight, you can send the details to yourself or another person so you won't have to search for them again. This can also help you lock in that specific rate for a limited time.

Once you've selected departing and returning flights, select Share > Send To Yourself to receive an itinerary email.

Make sure you're signed in to your Google account before selecting this option.

Screenshot of a flight in Google Flights. The Send to Yourself options is displayed.

Alternatively, select Email to send the info to someone else, or select Facebook or Twitter to share the details on social media. The Copy Link option lets you copy a hyperlink with the information to your clipboard.

How to Track Google Flights for Price Changes

Sometimes, it's a good idea to wait a few days to see if cheaper prices appear. Google Flights can send you real-time alerts and emails when flight prices change, or you can return to Google Flights at a later time to view any price changes.

On the flight summary page, enable Track prices to receive price alerts and travel tips via email.

If you purchase your tickets with the price tracker option enabled and the fare later decreases, you may be able to get a reimbursement for the price difference.

How to Plan a Cheap Impromptu Trip Using a Google Flights Map

If you want to travel but don't have a specific destination in mind, Google Flights can help you select one. There are several suggested locations available on the Google Flights homepage.

Google Flights suggested trips

You can also select the Explore Destinations link to see the cheapest prices for trips around the world. This shows a map with current flight prices for several locations. As you move the map around, flight prices in nearby locations update in the scrollbar menu on the left side of the page. After selecting a location, Google Flights takes you to the page where you can pick your flights.