HOW TO FIND CHEAP FLIGHTS WITH GOOGLE FLIGHTS
Google Flights (Goof) is the fastest of the several major search engines. It will sometimes reveal “deals” that are not available elsewhere and has a useful calendar for pinpointing dates with the best prices. Goof allows you to deselect airlines you find unacceptable. It also allows you to search by alliance, search from multiple departure points and destinations, and store past searches for future reference (useful for spotting trends or kicking yourself when the price doubles).
Goof is limited compared to ITA Matrix, (which is, truly, an “expert” tool), it is not possible to search by class of fare, (though you can search for First, Business and Premium Economy). It may not offer flight deals that are available on specific websites, it does not have some of the tools available on Kayak, and it does not link through to many of the lesser known online travel agencies (OTAs). It may also suggest a price that is available if you “call a travel agent”…good luck with that.
Google Flights is an excellent screening tool for those seeking low cost flights and is most helpful to get a fast “read” on what is available — though it may well turn up the best deal in the process.
Let’s say you live in Sweden and want to fly to the west coast of the US. Let’s also assume you are flexible and can travel between mid-January and May 25th, 2017. Further, let’s assume you want a really good deal on an airline with a good safety record and decent service — alliance is not important to you.
Next, select a set of dates. Keep in mind that what matters most in this preliminary search is the length of stay. So simply enter Jan 18th to January 25th which is a full week and happens to be a “sweet spot” for fares. You are going to call up all the prices for the weeks following those dates in a minute.
At this writing, Norwegian offers a direct $318 round-trip ticket to the lesser traveled airport of Oakland direct from Stockholm’s Arlanda. This flight is bookable on the carrier’s website or on Expedia at $490. Interestingly, below that you’ll see more conventional offerings: Virgin, British Airways or KLM will fly you to LAX with one stop for about 100$ more!
You can then move through the weeks or months to find the price you like.
At this point you have gathered some basic information: You can fly at a low cost on Norwegian or you can spend more and fly on a combination of airlines within an alliance and collect miles you may want.
Make sure your dates are the departure dates for the specific airport — there may be a day difference between your flights. At this point you can begin tweaking the variables — for example, try replacing AMS with TXL,DUS after removing the alliance so the routing is: GOT TXL/DUS SFO CDG GOT. This “forces” Goof to look for an airline that flies via TXL or DUS — which, in this case, is Air Berlin, a member of the One World Alliance.
If you have followed this tutorial to this point the next thing you may want to do is save the search. You’ll need a Google account and you will need to take the search all the way through to the point where Google lists the OTAs where you book the flight. Immediately below the OTAs is a “Save” button. You can review your saved itineraries — and watch the prices change over time — by recalling your searches in the left hand sidebar.
And there you have an introduction to an extremely fast search tool. Good hunting!