Today I want to talk about another one of my favorite travel tools, Google Flights. I check google flights daily to find cheap flights, but rarely know where I’m going to go. This is one of the keys to finding cheap flights, flexibility. Prices change daily, so checking daily to get a feel how of prices move can help you book your next flight for much less than you’d pay if you only searched on a given day.
I use the Google Flights Explore map to find where I am going to travel next. I pick a week or weekend that I’d like to travel and search the map for places to visit. I’ll do this for a few weeks and sure enough a very cheap and interesting opportunity pops up. For example, two days ago, for about 6 hours, American Airlines had a sale on flights from Chicago to Tokyo for less than $450. The fares were gone Monday morning. If I hadn’t checked Google Flights daily I would have never known about that outrageously good deal.
I take two very specific approaches to find cheap flights. When I open Google Flights I pick a day (for a mileage run) or a weekend (for a trip) and explore the map. For example, tomorrow I have a free day, so I select Chicago as my origin and only tomorrow for my travel dates. I found a round trip flight to Miami for $140. This flight would earn 2,400 miles and could be a great mileage run! The key is knowing WHEN you want to travel and figuring out the WHERE later.
The second approach is knowing WHERE I want to go, but not knowing WHEN. I know this summer I’d like to visit France or Switzerland. For this search, I’ll type Chicago into the origin box and Lyon, France into the destination box. Next, to change the date, I’ll select the departure date and switch to “dates flexible.” This brings up a grid of dates to help you select the lowest fare. The calendar view also helps locate the cheapest days to travel. Using this method you can help narrow down the when and hopefully find flights that fit your budget.
Keep in mind, from my experience, prices typically hit a fixed point about three weeks before the date of travel, but it can be very difficult to find the “lowest price.” From my example earlier, flights to Tokyo on American are usually over $1,000, but on this rare sale, they were $450. This is a dramatic example of whats possible.
The best deal I’ve found today is Chicago (ORD) to Beijing (PEK) on American’s 787 Dreamliner departing March 7, 2016 and returning on March 15, 2016 for $508!
I hope this helps you find cheaper flights in the future! Remember FLEXIBILITY is key when trying to find the best price! I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve found cheap flights using this method.