Travel is something that almost everyone wants to do, but often the prices of flights can deter someone from booking a trip. I’m going to let you in on a secret: flights don’t have to be expensive. In fact, they can be ridiculously cheap! I’m here to show you the exact step-by-step guide on how to use Google Flights to find incredible flight deals that will forever change the way that you travel! What would you do if you could fly from the United States to Europe roundtrip for $300? I’ve personally used this process to find incredible flight deals like an $86 plane ticket from Orlando to Quito, Ecuador, $250 round trip mistake fares to Japan, and many other insanely cheap deals. Now it is your turn to use this secret hack to travel to your dream destination.

If you are interested in finding GREAT flight deals, then join my free Facebook group. I post daily flight deals from a large list of airports. There is no catch or gimmick, just deals and the screenshotted information from my Google Flights search. You can join here Ridiculously Cheap Flight Deals Facebook Group.

What Is Google Flights?

Google Flights is a free flight finding service offered by Google that scans hundreds of flights to show you all of the available options. While Google Flights does not show every airline (e.g. Southwest Airlines, Thai Airlines, Philippine Airlines, Air China, and China Eastern are not shown on Google Flights), it covers the majority of the major airlines and scans major OTA’s (online travel agencies) like Expedia, Go To Gate, Orbitz, and Kayak for the best deals. Google Flights is the ultimate flight search engine for people looking to find a great deal.

To inspire you to keep reading, I have posted some of the recent (Spring 2022) deals that I have found using this hack.

Why Use Google Flights Instead of a Site Like Kayak or Expedia

One question you may ask is “What makes Google Flights so much better than Kayak or Expedia?” Well, simply put, Google Flights is a search engine that is profiting from your data rather than charging you to book through them. What this means is that Google is providing you with the best prices with no markup on their end. They are truly just a search engine. They also scan most of the credible OTAs like Kayak and Expedia and post that information for you as well.

3rd Party OTAs get a percentage of each sale they make. This means that sometimes, they really aren’t showing you the best price. It’s also almost never worth it to book through a 3rd party seller like Go To Gate or Orbitz. Going through a third party means that if there is an issue with the flight, a delay, or a cancellation, you have to back and forth between the third party seller and the airline. Trust me, no one wants to do that because neither will take the fault for the issue.

By using Google Flights, you can find cheap flights and compare their prices for booking directly with the airline or booking through a third party. From there, you can determine whether the hassle of using a 3rd party is worth the discount in a matter of seconds.

How To Use Google Flights To Find Flight Deals

Now that we’ve gone over what Google Flights is. It’s time to get down to business. If you are looking to use Google Flights to find incredible flight deals, then follow this step-by-step guide to using the program.

1. Go to Google Flights

The first step is to go to google.com/flights. On this dashboard, it will ask you for the following basic criteria: starting airport, destination airport, and dates. You can also change whether you want to fly one-way or roundtrip (roundtrip is usually cheaper than buying two one-way tickets, but not always).

You can also change the number of people flying. I personally always leave it as “one-person” flying when I’m searching for flights because then I don’t have to do the math on the cost per ticket. I change it to the actual number of people flying when I go to book.

You can also change the flight class if you are looking for Business or First Class tickets. It will also show you information on any flights that you have “tracked” (which I will get into later).

2. Type In Your Home Airport

Generally, I type in my home airport (Orlando, MCO) as the starting destination. I’m lucky to live near an international airport hub. However, if your closest airport is a small airport, it may be more beneficial to search from your nearest large airport as they have better deals. Sometimes a longer drive to the airport and parking fees can be cheaper than an expensive flight from a regional airport. I would search both and compare prices.

3. Don’t Put a Specific Destination

This step is specifically for people who are looking for the best flight deals they can find. If you are looking for a flight to a specific place, skip to step 4.

When looking for cheap flights, I want to see as many deals as possible to compare them. To do this, I want to access the amazing Google Flights Map. Getting here is simple, you can either hit the “explore” button on the side of the dashboard, or instead of typing in a specific location to travel to, you can just put “Europe” or “Asia.” This will take me to a map where I can see flight prices to multiple places. (The map is essential for finding good deals, we’ll get to that soon).

4. Don’t Change the Autofill Dates

If you are looking for specific dates of travel, then you can enter them, and skip to Step 5. If you are looking for the cheapest flights, follow this hack.

Whatever dates that are there, you can just leave them for now. Go ahead and hit the “search button.”

5. Open Up the Map

Once you hit the search button, it will open you up to a map like the one below. This is an incredible feature because it is an interactive map that shows you prices from your selected airport to different locations around the world. You can zoom in to see more airports and zoom out to see fewer.

You can also drag the map to see different continents or areas. Try playing around with it a bit to see what shows up for you.

how to use google flights: explore map
What the map looks like

6. Choose Your Dates

If you have specific dates already chosen, skip this step.

Now you get to choose some dates! The reason that we wait until this point in the process is because the map has date options that the normal search dashboard does not. These options are essential to finding the best deals.

Pro Tip: When it comes to affordable travel, plan the dates around the flight, not the flight around the dates. Flexibility is key when it comes to finding the absolute BEST deals.

Next, you will want to click on the little calendar icon next to the dates in the top left corner. This will bring up some alternative date options.

Once you have clicked the little calendar icon, it will open up another set of date options. I then click on the “Flexible Dates Option”

I personally change the date range to “two weeks” in the next 6 months (the “all” option). This means that Google will scan every flight in their database for a two-week trip in the next 6 months. From there, Google will automatically show you the best deals to EVERY location on the map for trips in that time frame.

If you don’t want to travel for as long as two weeks, you can choose the “weekend” or “one-week” options as well. Also, if you have a specific month that you would like to travel in, but are flexible on dates, you can choose the specific month instead of “all.”

how to use google flights: flexible date options

7. Scan the Map For Flights That Interest You

Now that you have set all of the ideal search parameters, it gets to the fun part! All you have to do is drag the map around and zoom in and out until you find a flight that interests you. It’s exciting to think of all of the possibilities. Once you have found a flight that interests you, click on the city. From there it will open up a sidebar on the lefthand side that will show you some flight options. Go ahead and click the “view flights” button the the bottom of that sidebar.

how to use google flights: explore map

8. Learn More About the Flight

After clicking the “view flights” button, you will be taken to a page that shows all of the available flights to your destination on a specific set of dates (whatever Google found to be cheapest, or whatever you put in manually). Now, there are even more steps you can take to find a better flight. To do so, you need to know the different features that this page holds.

  • Track Prices Option (Highlighted in red)- This option allows you to track the prices of this specific flight. This means that Google will send an email to your Google account whenever there is a price change. This is a great way to track flight prices over time for a dream destination or a scheduled trip. You can also track the prices for those specific dates or any dates available for that flight route.
  • Date Grid (Highlighted in Green)- This awesome tool will pull up a “grid” of flight prices for different dates. It will allow you to see how much adjusting your departure and return dates will affect prices. Sometimes it can even help you find a better deal!
  • Price Graph (Highlighted in Orange)- When you click on this tool, it will compare the price of your “two-week” trip to all of the other two-week date ranges for the same destination. This will show you have prices can be much higher at certain dates and lower during others.
  • Price Indicator (Highlighted in Yellow)- This nifty little tool will tell you whether you are getting a decent deal for your flight or not. It will tell you when prices are low, typical, and high. If it is low, it is a good deal!
  • Low Fares are generally show in green like the first flight on the list below.

9. Compare Prices and Dates

The next step to finding the most ideal cheap flight for you is to compare both the prices and the dates. While you may have searched for “two-week” trips, there’s a chance that you might not ACTUALLY want to go to that location for exactly two weeks. Sometimes you want to stay longer, sometimes you want to stay shorter. This is where the Date Grid tool comes into play.

When you click on the date grid, it will pull up a grid of the different cheapest flight prices for each day. The Horizontal/Topbar (X-Axis) shows the departure date and the vertical/Sidebar (Y-Axis) shows the return date. Where rows and columns meet shows the cheapest prices for those dates.

This is a great way to change the date of your flights by a day or two to match up with the best travel days for you personally. You can also see the cheap flights highlighted in green which helps you make decisions.

Once you have found the dates that work for you, you can simply click on the price and then click the “OK” button in the bottom, righthand corner, and it will take you to that information page.

how to use google flights: date grid

10. Choosing the Flight

Now you are at the point where you can actually move towards booking the flight! The next steps involve choosing a departure flight and a return flight.

The cost of the roundtrip flight is shown on the righthand side. If you choose a different set of flights, those prices are subject to change. At this point, I usually change the number of people on the flight if it is more than just me traveling. Since I now know the price of the individual tickets, less math is involved.

Once you have found the perfect departure flight, simply click on it and it will take you to a return flight page. Then you will need to choose a return flight. The very top flight that is shown is the one that lines up with the price that you chose on your departure flight. If you would like to choose a different flight, you can click on one with a different price.

Once you have chosen both flights, your page should look similar to the one below.

How To Book The Flight

You’ve made it! You’ve found the deal you want and it’s time to book. Now what? This quick guide will show you exactly how to book the flight.

Booking Via the Google Flights Portal

Once you have reached the page where you have selected both your departure and return flights, it’s time to book the flights. Below the flights, you will see a list of ways to book with prices next to them. In order to book the flight, you can simply click the “select” button and it will take you directly to the website to book.

how to use google flights: booking portal

Booking Through Third-Parties

A third-party refers to any company that you could book a flight through instead of booking directly through the airline itself. I honestly never recommend booking through a third-party service for flights. The reason is that if anything happens to your flight (cancellation, delay, you need a name change, something was booked wrong, etc.) you have to go through BOTH the airline and the third party. It is usually a really long back and forth process that is a huge hassle. This is especially if a flight was canceled and you lost money or a major delay or missed connection happened. Neither the airline nor third party will take responsibility and it is much harder to get proper compensation. Working directly with the airline is always easier than working with a third party.

Anyways, if you still wish to book through the cheaper option provided through the third party like “Gotogate” as shown above, you can follow the same steps as booking through the airline itself by clicking on the “Select” button.

Bookings That Have Different Airlines for the Departure/Return Flights

There are times that your desired flight is actually booked through two different companies (One for the way there and one for the way back). If that is the case, you will follow the same steps as you would for booking one round trip flight but do it twice for each of the airlines. In the example below, I first clicked the “select” button, and then selected each individual ticket and booked them on their respective websites.

how to use google flights: separate tickets

How To Book If You Are Coming From Ridiculously Cheap Flight Deals

If you are coming from my Ridiculously Cheap Flight Deals Facebook Group, then I’m so glad you’re here and ready to book a flight! Please let me know if you booked a flight deal that I posted because it’s really encouraging to me.

To book one of the deals that were posted, you first need to find the screenshotted flight information. It will be located in the comments section on the original post that the deal was a part of.

Next, you will go directly to the airline’s website that your flight is through. Then you will input the dates provided on the group for the deal. This will take you to each of the deals available for that date. You can match the dates and times to find the exact deals, but be aware that flight prices change ALL the time so you want to book as soon as possible before the deal changes.

If you would like to modify something about the dates or times, I would recommend putting the dates, departure airport, and destination airport into the Google Flights search bar. From there you can follow steps 8 through 10 until you find the ideal deal for you.

Things To Keep in Mind When Choosing a Flight

Now for the complicated part. Sadly, not every “cheap” flight is actually the cheapest option. There are a lot of factors that come into play when booking air travel, and they can add up to big costs if you aren’t careful. However, if you pay attention to these few things, it could really help your travel experience!

Cost of bags

It is important to pay attention to how much bags are going to cost you. Sometimes it is actually cheaper to upgrade your flight or change to a different company that offers free bags but has a more expensive ticket. For example, on the flight below from Los Angeles to Orlando (which is incredibly overpriced by the way), you can see that for just a carry-on, it is going to cost you $100 roundtrip! If you want to bring a carry-on and a checked bag, then it would be cheaper to fly with Delta who includes bags in the price for $700 than with Spirit for $550.

how to use google flights: bags

Overnight Layovers

The next thing to keep in mind is layovers. If you are traveling internationally, there is an increased chance that you will have an overnight layover somewhere. This means that you have to go through customs and exit the airport in a country that is not your final destination. You also have to factor in the cost of a hotel or hostel stay at the layover destination as well as transportation to and from the airport.

Overnight layovers are usually the absolute worst because they often land very late at night and fly out again early in the morning. This means that you don’t get a great night’s sleep and there is the added cost of the layover accommodations.

Short Layovers

Another thing to keep in mind when booking a flight with layovers is the timing of the layover. If you are flying back to the United States from Europe, your first US destination (you’re layover airport) is where you will have to clear customs. This means that you need to factor in an extra hour and a half just for customs. Plus you have to recheck your bag after clearing customs. If your layover is only two hours in JFK, and you need to clear customs, you likely will miss your connecting flight.

Likewise, if you have a layover in any large airport like Atlanta, Boston, or JFK where you have to take trains to different terminals, a 40-minute layover is not enough. You will miss your connecting flight and be exhausted from sprinting through the airport.

What Now?

Now that you have the ability and the secret hack to find incredible deals, it’s time to take the leap and travel! If you want help planning your trip, you can send me an email at shannon@adventuringwithshannon.com.

If you are looking for an awesome trip, check out my next group tour to Spain. Join other amazing women on this ultimate tour of Spain. This tour will include a catamaran cruise in Barcelona, a paella cooking class, a tour of the castles in Segovia, a fancy Flamenco dinner show, and much more!

Take the stress out of travel by joining this pre-arranged group trip. All you have to do is show up, enjoy, and experience the beauty that Spain has to offer. 

This female-only trip is designed for the woman who DREAMS of travel but struggles to find people to travel with her. By joining this female-only trip, you will be able to join other amazing, like-minded women on an incredible adventure without the stress of traveling solo. 

What are you waiting for? Take the leap and sign up for the trip today. Spots are limited and filling up quickly! You can find more information about the Spain Trip here.

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13 Comments

  1. This article is perfect for someone like me, who is always looking for cheap flights and how to save a dime! Thank you for sharing some good feedback. I thought it was helpful on what you shared about booking through 3rd party companies.

  2. This was super informative. Maybe I will go fishing for a cheap airfare on Google Flights using your guide. Thanks!

  3. I love these kinds of articles as I always find something new! I think the trick is to always stay flexible 🙂 Great work, like always!

    1. Flexibility = saving money! The ability to be flexible is a game-changer when it comes to finding good deals.

  4. Great info, thanks for sharing! I use Google Flights whenever possible as I think it’s a great resource.

  5. These are actually some incredibly insightful tips which I hadn’t thought of, or heard of before. Thanks you for sharing this – saving right now 🙂

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