How to Use Google Flights to Book Cheap Flight Deals

Logo of Google Flights

Google Flights is one of the most powerful and best tools on the internet to find cheap flights. Almost all of the flight deals that we send out to our free email subscribers are from searching on Google Flights

You Can Search a Combination of Six Departure Cities to Six Destination Cities

One of the most powerful things about Google Flights is the number of cities that you can search at once. With Kayak, Momondo, and SkyScanner you can only find the exact price of a flight from one departure city to one destination city. With Google Flights, you can search a combination of six departure cities to six destination cities. For example, if we sent out a flight deal email from New York City to fifteen cities in Europe, you would generally search JFK, EWR, LGA, and HPN in the box on the left. You would then enter up to six cities that you wanted to visit on the right, which you can find in the flight deal emails we send out. 

Example showing you can search six airports in Google Flights


You Can Also Search Six Cities to an Entire Region

The region search tool is a powerful way to quickly search a lot of destinations. Some of the most popular regions that you can search in Google Flights are: Europe, Asia (very broad), Southeast Asia, South Asia, Central Asia, Oceania (Australia and New Zealand), South America, Caribbean, Africa, North Africa, Middle East, and Central America.

Google Flights will start out only searching the top 15-20 cities in a region, but if you magnify the map by using your mouse scroll or the + box in the far right, you can see more cities. Google Flights will also search new locations outside of that region or country when you scroll in either direction. 

The major downside of the region view is that (1) it is slightly less accurate than the city-specific search, and (2) you can’t use as many filters to customize your flights. In the region view, you can only filter (1) the number of stops, (2) Airlines by Alliance, (3) Price, (4) departure and arrival times, and (5) flight duration. Whereas in the city specific search, you can search those filters plus (1) the additional cost of bringing a carry-on bag, (2) filter out specific airlines (instead of only airline alliances), (3) set your maximum layover time, and (4) exclude certain connection airports. 

The filter allowing you to search only alliances rather than specific airlines in the city-specific search (discussed further below) is the biggest drawback of the region search. 

Google Flights Regions Flight Search Map


You Can Include or Exclude Certain Airlines

The filter for airlines is most important. When you search to flights to Europe you may see some amazing deals, but when you look closer, they may be operated by an ultra-low-cost airline such as WOW Air, who is on the brink of bankruptcy. In the region view you can only filter by Alliance (Star Alliance, OneWorld, and SkyTeam). Whereas, in the city-specific search, you can filter by actual airlines.  

If you filter only by alliance, you may miss out on some great airlines. Some of the best non-alliance airlines are: Etihad, Emirates, Virgin Atlantic, Virgin Australia, Icelandair, Alaska Airlines, JetBlue, Hawaiian, Jet Airways, WestJet, El Al, GOL, and Bangkok Airways. Whereas, if you use the specific city search, you can exclude/include specific airlines (e.g., if you wanted to filter out WOW and Norwegian, but wanted to keep Emirates in the search results)

Filtering Google Flights by Airline or Alliance


You Can Customize Your Layover City or Time

A recent feature that was added to Google Flights was the “Connecting Airports” filter in the search results. You can customize your layover time using this filter. Do you want a short layover so that you can get to your final destination quickly? Or do you want to see if you can find a long layover so that you can quick city tour in Paris, Rome, London, Hong Kong, etc.?

You can also customize your connecting airports. You may have a reason you don’t want to fly through Moscow or the often delayed New York City airports. 

 

Example where you can use the google flight connecting airport and layover filter to exclude some airports.


You Can See the Flight’s Legroom and Amenities

 Google Flights will also show you the legroom and amenities on each flight. It may be worth it to you for an extra $50 to have 34 inches of legroom rather than 31 inches, which is pretty tight for a long-haul flight. Additionally, many times different flights on the same airline may have different leg rooms. For example, you may have 32 inches of legroom from the U.S. to Europe, but your connection from that city to another European city may only have 28-29 inches of legroom. 

I like the Chrome Extension Legrooms for Google Flights because it shows this in search results for an easy comparison between airlines. Without the Chrome extension, you have to choose your exact flights to see this information (picture above). I recommend you aim for at least 31 inches of legroom on long-haul flights. 30 inches is pretty uncomfortable for short flights and it will even be worse for long-haul flights since most people recline their seats for extended periods of time on these flights.

Shows an example of the chrome extension Legrooms for Google Flights


You Can See the “True” Ticket Price With Your Bags

The rise of “Basic Economy” has resulted in fewer airlines allow you to check a bag for free and some airlines, such as WOW Air, charging you $40 to bring a carry-on bag. Luckily, Google Flights has added a great feature under the “Bags” filter that allows you to see the true cost flying with that ultra-low-cost carrier. The one limitation is that Google Flights will only show the price of a checked bag for domestic U.S. travel, but you can quickly price out the cost of a carry-on bag for every route around the world. 

Shows the Google Flights bags feature to price out carry-on and checked bags