It still enamors me whenever I hear that someone is not using Google Flights (or atleast SkyScanner) to get the best possible deal that they can on their airfare. After traveling to 15 countries in the last year and using Google Flights to book every single one of my flights I would like to think that I have a large enough sample size to confidently share my simple yet often overlooked approach to purchasing my plane tickets while I’m out traveling abroad.
Or if you’re some kind of glutton for punishment you can just skip Google Flights and book all your airfare needs through United, they’ll be more than happy to knock you out and drag you off the plane FREE OF CHARGE! If you’re feeling especially thrill seeking you can also skip my steps altogether and simply book through Malaysian Airlines, this way you won’t deal with getting punched out from overbooking a flight. Yet your plane will more than likely disappear somewhere in Asia, so happy booking everyone!
I know there are many blogs out there about finding the best flights, but I’m going to give you my own tried and true simple methods to best utilize this amazing online resource to your advantage and help save you some money! Because who doesn’t love saving money am I right!?
Now before I get into the steps, there are some quick points of interest I’d like to cover that will help this whole thing go a little smoother:
- Be flexible, no this does not mean doing yoga before your flight. If you’re flexible with your dates, times, how long your flight takes, etc then you can save copious amounts of dolla’ dolla’ bills. If you don’t mind taking the red eye and ending up sleeping in the airport to save $50-$100 then this flexibility will stretch your money more than you can imagine.
- Don’t be afraid of Layovers, if time is on your side and you’re not in some kind of rush then adding connecting flights and layovers in different cities/countries can be a highly beneficial way to save some cash and maybe even have some time to explore a new city, win-win! With this being said if you have 4 hours or less on your layover I would NOT recommend exploring the city, you’ll only be kicking yourself for the time pressure that comes with this.
- Credit card rewards are a glorious idea if you happen to spend a lot of money on a credit card and often fly with the same airline company! I have no experience with this one myself because I’m always flying with different airlines, but I’ve been told it can be a “travel hack” worth looking into, some people are able to freely fly around the planet on their airline miles. Check out the guide here by fellow travel blogger zerototravel, he goes in depth explaining things that are out of my scope of practice: How to Travel Hack Air Miles
- Travel in the offseason. Peak season flights can almost double in price in comparison to the offseason prices, so if you want to avoid the crowds and get a better deal then consider offseason traveling!
Finding Cheap flights with google flight
1. Type in Where You Want to Depart From and Arrive
NATURALLY, THE FIRST STEP WILL BE TO TYPE IN YOUR DEPARTING CITY AND ENTERING IN YOUR ARRIVAL CITY. IF YOU’RE BEING FLEXIBLE WITH YOUR ARRIVAL CITY YOU CAN LOOK ON THE MAP ON THE RIGHT HAND SIDE IT’LL SHOW THE PRICE OF ARRIVING IN THE NEARBY CITIES COMPARED TO THE ONE YOU TYPED IN. FOR MY EXAMPLE I WENT AHEAD AND USED MY DEPARTURE CITY AS SEATTLE IN THE UNITED STATES AND WENT FOR PARIS FRANCE AS MY ARRIVAL. I’M DOING THIS IN THE LAST WEEK OF APRIL AND I’M GOING TO USE THE MONTH OF JUNE AS MY EXAMPLE TO SEARCH FOR (PEAK SEASON).
2. Use the Date box below the departures to pull up the full schedule of the month
Now things are getting fun, once you pull up the “date box” you will see the BEST PRICE for each day is shown. To get the specifics for each day, simply click on the date and it will pull up all the information you could possibly ever need for it; flight times, companies, pricing options, baggage and other extra fees. Using my example from Seattle to Paris, I first entered in June 11th to use for this. I quickly found that the best possible flight for this day is $760, which practically gave me a heart attack on the spot, that is way too expensive! So with the resourcefulness of Google Flights, I browsed the other days of the week for a better price. I found on the same week that there are options for $570 USD and even down to $490 USD. Now THAT is what I’m trying to get at here! That’s half the price for what the original price was that I searched for, that’s over $200 difference, it’s ludicrous! So if I’m being flexible enough with my dates, then I would go ahead and book the flight for June 6th from Seattle to Paris for $490. Boom deal done and thank you Google Flights!
3. utilize layovers and airline “hubs”
To put this one simply, it’s booking two separate flights instead of just one but getting to the same location. There are airline “hubs” all over the world, in Asia this includes the likes of; Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, and Bangkok. These cities serve as locations that companies like AirAsia base themselves out of and there is a constant stream of flights coming into these airports. Google Flights will analyze every flight known to man and find the ridiculously cheap flights to these hubs that the companies use as seat fillers. These companies want little more than some seats to fill on their less popular flights into these airports, so you can get them for cheap. If you can first get a flight from your departing airport to a hub, be it in any region of the world, and connect from that hub to your final destination the the odds are that it will be cheaper than just a straight shot.
Two really popular options for this for Americans off the top of my head would be going anywhere in the US to Iceland as a layover, and then taking a flight via WOW air to the rest of Europe (I’m doing this one in June). Another popular one would be anywhere in Asia to Shanghai for a couple of days, and then off to North America from there. Again I’ve done this one, I took 3 separate flights and spent 3 days in Shanghai exploring the city with a friend, all for cheaper than a straight shot from Bangkok to the States would have been!
Let’s look at an example of this shall we, if I want to go from Bangkok to Seattle with a stopover in Shanghai for a cheaper option (which can vary depending on how long you wish to stay in Shanghai). I’ll use June again as my example, more specifically June 7th. Alright so pulling it up and doing what I did before I found the cheapest flight from Bangkok to Shanghai is $132 USD, not bad, but if I did June 6th this would be $116. Now I have changed over to June 6th for my first flight as it gets in at 5:50am which leaves me time to get a cheap flight that same day. I found on the same day one of the cheapest flights of the month going Shanghai to Seattle for $355 USD with the flight leaving at 12:20pm and leaving me with a 6 hour layover in Shanghai. If my terrible math skills are correct (seriously my math is awful) that adds up to $487 USD between the two. If I had gone straight shot on the same day from Bangkok to Seattle it would have been $583 total. You just saved yourself $100 and explored Shanghai for 6 hours using Google Flights, nicely done!
4. let google flights monitor the flight for you
Let Google do all the work by a simple click! If you find a potential flight option, or a couple, simply click on the “save this trip to track price” option and you’ll receive updates via email to see if the price changes or it gets sold out. We don’t want anyone to overbook and neither does Google, to save you from a United Airlines-esque breakdown always better safe than sorry and tracking your flights for availability!
5. use budget airlines
Even with all the tools that Google Flights uses to analyze the whole internet for flights, it still does have an achilles heel with budget airlines. Google Flights does not know ALL of the budget airline flights and therefore a side search will be necessary for trying to locate these.
In all honesty this one can be tricky, as there are so many of these to choose from. I will list a few of the proven budget airlines for you to review and utilize with your own travel planning.
Budget Airlines in Asia:
Budget Airlines in Oceania:
Budget Airlines in Europe:
Budget Airlines in the USA:
Have any further questions or comments?! Please leave them below I’d be more than happy to talk with you about it! Happy hunting for those flight deals everybody!