The Best Airfare Shopping Tool You Can Use

The Best Airfare Shopping Tool You Can Use

Once we decided where and roughly when we would be vacationing this year, I became a little obsessed with getting the best deal possible on airfare.  After all, every dollar saved on airfare was another dollar in my pocket for sightseeing.

I tried a variety of airfare shopping tools:  Hopper, Kayak, Hotwire, Travelocity, Priceline, CheapTickets, Travelocity, Orbitz – I’m probably forgetting a few too.  But hands down, the one that gave me the most information in the easiest-to-understand format was Google Flights.

Upon reaching the Google Flights main page, your closest airport is automatically plugged in for departure.  That might not be the cheapest or most direct option, however, so you can enter up to four additional airports by clicking on the plus sign.  For someone like me, who has at least three major airports within 2-3 hours from home, this was fantastic.  Why do five separate searches when you can do one?  In the example below, however, I’m just using BWI as my departure airport.

Certain destinations and deals are already loaded on the page for you.  As you can see here, I can get a nonstop flight to New York for $319. Minneapolis is $187, and Houston is $318, to name a few.  This is great if you don’t know where you want to go, but you want to go somewhere.



My destination is (of course) London.  Another great feature of Google Flights is that you could list an entire country as your destination and it would show you results for all airports in that country.  Or, as with departure airports, you can list multiple airports.  For London, a city served by five separate airports, there is an option to get results for all five, or just specific ones that you choose.

For dates, we’ll use what they plugged in although I certainly don’t recommend going to London for just four days!  And here are my initial results:


So the best price is $1452, but Google advises that if I shift my trip forward by just three days, I will save $603, making the best ticket price $840!   On the other hand, if I’m committed to going on the original dates I used, I could change my departure airport and save $295, making the best price $1149.

I’m liking the sound of $840, so I’ll stick with that.  Next screen:


Okay, the new, cheaper tickets are on Wow Airlines.  A friend advised me that Wow does not offer an ideal flying experience, and that the reason their tickets are cheap is because they charge fees for E V E R Y T H I N G.  Let me see if I can find something else.

I click on the departure date and up pops a two month calendar spread with airfare amounts listed for each date.  (This is the Calendar price search feature.)


Aha!  Do you see that green number under August 27?  It’s $600!  If it’s going to save me $240, I can definitely postpone vacation for six additional weeks.

But is that really the best deal?  Since I’m being flexible, I might as well check out their other airfare search tools.  I click on Flexible Dates to see if anything better pops up.


Departure date is listed in columns running across the top, return dates are listed in rows along the right side.  You can go forwards and backwards on both dates, but if you don’t get anything after a few tries, it can get frustrating due to having to wait for the numbers to load.  If you’re really flexible, I recommend trying the Price Graph, which shows you prices for different date ranges.


The fare you’re currently looking at is marked with a dashed line across the center of the graph and the dates of your travel are shaded in a darker blue.  You can see at a glance if there are any date ranges cheaper than the one you’re considering by simply checking to see if any of the bars fall below the line.  In this case, September 11-15 is the way to go — coming in at only $510.

So, in a matter of minutes my initial best price airfare has gone from $1452 to $510 — saving me over $1000.  Granted, I had to postpone my travel plans by two months to get that price, but for $1000 more in spending money, it’s totally worth it!

The next time you’re planning on flying, check Google Flights for the best deals.



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