how to use google flights to find cheap flights guide
| | |

How To Use Google Flights: My Foolproof System To Fly Cheap

Google Flights has become my go to tool for finding the cheapest flights when we travel.

This post is going to show you exactly how to use Google Flights to get the best deals and walk you step by step through the powerful tools which can filter results to find the route you need at the best price possible.

I’ve used this process so many times it’s become second nature and, after helping my dad in using it to book a post-Covid trip to come out and see us in Australia, I thought it would be a system that others may benefit from too.

How To Use Google Flights Step By Step

We are planning a trip to Japan in November, so in this post, I am going to take you through every step I took to get us the best deal, including

Use Google Flights ‘Explore’ If You Don’t Know Your Destination

One of my favourite features of Google Flights is being able to use the explore function to see the prices of different destinations.

When you log in to Google Flights you’ll see the ‘explore’ tab in the left-hand side menu.

how to use google flights step 0

When you click on it, you’ll get a map showing you destinations, with the search defaulted to a ‘1-week trip in the next 6 months’.

how to use google flights step 1

You can then play with the filters in the search function in the top left. If you know when you want to take time off but don’t have a destination in mind, just choose ‘specific dates’ and then Google Flights will show you a list of destinations.

There is also the option for flexible dates, in which you can choose from a ‘weekend, 1-week or 2-week break and then a month’.

Once you get some idea of where the cheapest fares are, you can then refine your search further.

how to use google flights step 2

Use Search if You Know Your Destination and Dates

If you know your destination then just enter it along with your planned flight dates (these can be changed later) into the ‘flights’ tab and hit search. Make sure you choose the correct number of passengers too (in our case I adjusted it to three passengers).

how to use google flights 3.1

You will then get to a screen looking like the one below. From here I chose Tokyo as our destination city and then hit the ‘View Flights’ button.

how to use google flights step 4

Removing Airlines You Don’t Want To Use (Optional)

WARNING: This may make your options more expensive

My initial results look good, but I have read bad reviews of Philippine Airlines and they are the cheapest so I open the ‘Airlines’ filter at the top and remove them from my results.

Not everyone will need to use this step but it can be used if needed, for example, if you don’t want to fly with a budget carrier or have had a particularly bad experience previously with an airline.

how to use google flights step 5 1

Sorting You Results

By now we’re getting a pretty good list of flights, which are currently sorted by Google Flights’ list of what they consider best. At this point, you could sort by anything from price to emissions depending on what your main goal is.

how to use google flights sorting

Refining Flight Time/Stops (Optional)

WARNING: This will probably make your options more expensive

This step might not be needed for the most budget-conscious travellers, as some may be happy with long layovers (especially given you can fit in another destination on a long layover) or difficult routes, but for us with a three-year-old in tow making the journey fairly smooth was a key goal for us.

Here I have set the filters in Google Flights to be ‘1 stop or fewer’ and ‘under 20 hrs’ to refine the results further to what we need.

how to use google flights selecting duration and stops

Getting the Cheapest Fare on Google Flights

Now I have all my other filters locked in, it’s time to find the best fare.

If you are 100% set on certain dates, then it will now be as simple as sorting your results by ‘Price’ in the ‘Sort by’ box in the top right-hand corner.

google flights sort by best price

Finding Better Prices on Different Days

This, in my opinion, is one of the most powerful tools in Google Flights and is the biggest reason I use this site.

SaleBestseller No. 1
napfun Neck Pillow for Traveling, Upgraded Travel Neck Pillow for Airplane 100% Pure Memory Foam Travel Pillow for Flight Headrest Sleep, Portable Plane Accessories, Light Grey
7,142 Reviews
napfun Neck Pillow for Traveling, Upgraded Travel Neck Pillow for Airplane 100% Pure Memory Foam Travel Pillow for Flight Headrest Sleep, Portable Plane Accessories, Light Grey
  • PERFECT CHIN SUPPORT TRAVEL NECK PILLOW - This airplane pillow can better wrap your neck and free your chin, prevents the head from falling forward, relieves neck pain during travel.
  • BEST NECK PILLOW FOR TRAVELING - Unlike other travel pillows, This flight pillow can provide perfect support to protect the neck when you are sitting in the airplane, car, train, or bus.
  • PREMIUM MEMORY FOAM - napfun ERGONOMOR travel pillow was made of high quality memory foam with 5 seconds return technology, comfort and durable.
SaleBestseller No. 2
Universal in Flight Airplane Phone Holder Mount. Handsfree Phone Holder for Desk Tray with Multi-Directional Dual 360 Degree Rotation. Pocket Size Must Have Travel Essential Accessory for Flying
9,879 Reviews
Universal in Flight Airplane Phone Holder Mount. Handsfree Phone Holder for Desk Tray with Multi-Directional Dual 360 Degree Rotation. Pocket Size Must Have Travel Essential Accessory for Flying
  • ✈️ Recommended by 100,000 plus travel enthusiasts. This versatile and practical accessory makes it a perfect gift for family, friends or colleague. Everyone will love it! 😉
  • ✈️ Strong clamp to mount your phone to table, luggage handle, gym equipment or any objects up to 1.5 inch wide.
  • ✈️ Dual joints with 360 degrees rotation gives you flexibility for best viewing angle. Vertically or horizontally.
SaleBestseller No. 3
MiiKARE Airplane Travel Essentials Phone Holder, Universal Handsfree Phone Mount for Flying with 360 Degree Rotation, Travel Accessory for Airplane, Travel Must Haves Phone Stand for Desk, Tray Table
1,465 Reviews
MiiKARE Airplane Travel Essentials Phone Holder, Universal Handsfree Phone Mount for Flying with 360 Degree Rotation, Travel Accessory for Airplane, Travel Must Haves Phone Stand for Desk, Tray Table
  • 🛫【Travel Must Haves Phone Mount】This travel essential phone holder helps to free up your hands and enjoy travel. You can mount it to various seat backs or tray table during a flight in order to...
  • 🛫【Fairly Flexible Angle Adjustable】With multi-directional and 360 degrees rotation, this phone stand can combinate different positions, which allows you to mount and position your device to...
  • 🛫【Small Holder With Strong Clamp】Strong clamp holds your phone perfectly so that it won't drop. The pocket size phone holder is easy to fold and take anywhere you go. Pack it in your backpack,...

In the example of our Japan trip, we have a bit of flexibility. It’s nine months away and I haven’t yet put in a leave request, so moving around leaving dates by a few days is not going to be an issue.

Google Flights has a number of ways to do this.

Use the Calendar Selector

The first way to do this is simply to click on the date in the top right-hand corner, where you would select a different day for your flight.

What’s brilliant here is that it will show you the prices for different dates and, now we’ve refined the flights for exactly what we need, we know these prices are going to be accurate for us.

You can see in the red box below it looks like there are some cheaper options if I move from a Saturday flight to one on the last three weekdays.

google flights using date graph to find better prices

Use the Date Grid or Price Graph

Just below the ‘Calendar selector’, you will find two other important tools, the ‘Date grid’ and ‘Price Graph’.

google flights date grid price graph

I nearly always use the ‘Date grid’ even in preference to the ‘Calendar selector’ because I think it’s super easy to read.

On the top of the grid you have departure dates, on the right-hand side there are return dates.

As you can see here, by moving our departure to Wednesday and returning on a Friday we take the fare down a further $300.

google flights finding a cheap flight using date grid

You can also do something very similar using the ‘Price graph’ but it is not as easy to read. I normally use ‘this function ‘Price graph’ before filtering and when I don’t have any set plans. I use it to see months to avoid where there are high fares, which you’ll often see during peak holiday times such as Christmas.

google flights using the price graph

Booking Your Flights Through Google Flights

Another reason Google Flights makes booking so simple, is you go straight through to the booking company of your choice from the site.

Choose your departing and return flight and you will come to a screen like the one below, which will give you a range of websites from which you can book the flights.

I find the information at the bottom useful, which gives you an idea of how cheap a fare you’ve actually found versus the average.

finalising your flight booking with google flights

Tracking Prices Using Google Flights

If you’re not looking to book the flights right away, Google Flights has another cool feature which you’ll want to use, ‘Track prices’ (read my full guide to using it here).

Above the flight results on the left, you’ll find a little toggle switch, which when you click will trigger an alert on the bottom of the page.

If you are logged into a Google account, you will now get regular updates about changes to flight prices using the parameters you have selected, a great way of finding a cheap fare if you’ve got a bit of time to play with (though flights can go up as well as down).

track prices using google flights

How To Use Google Flights to Find Cheap Fares – Video

I have recorded a video of all the steps in this guide to help you visualise it more clearly.

Other Google Flight Tips

Here are a few other Google Flight Tips to use.

Price History

Keep an eye on this box in the middle of the flight window which will tell you if you’re getting a good deal or not.

google flights price box

Click on it and you’ll get this useful summary, showing a recent history of prices on a graph and what the average prices for this route are.

google flights price history tab

Select Multiple Airports

Another handy tip for Google Flights is that you can use it to search for flights from multiple airports.

You can see below the ‘+’ sign that allows you to select multiple airports.

using google flights, searching by multiple airports

In the example below from the UK, someone may live within a reasonable distance of the two main London airports and Birmingham Airport, so can use this function to add all three into the search.

Just be careful you come back to the same one, a mistake I’ve made in the past. When we flew to Seychelles from Gatwick, but accidentally booked tickets back to Heathrow and didn’t realise until arriving at the airport.

google flights multipl airport search

Other Ways to Find Cheap Flights

The only other way I’ve been able to find cheap flights consistently is through being on deals mailing lists.

These sites spend hours searching for the best deals and publish them a couple of times a week via email.

This relies a lot on your flexibility of both dates and destinations, but if you have this then you can find some amazing deals.

Jack’s Flight Club

When I was in the UK I was on this mailing list and got some amazing fares from them. I was even signed up to his premium service before I move out to Australia.

It’s free to join the mailing list, so if you’re in the UK there’s no reason not to join and see what comes through, I found it fantastic.


Going (Formerly Scott’s Cheap Flights)

This is the American version of Jack’s Flight Club (or possibly the other way around!), so similar principles apply.

Sign up for the mailing list and get notified when they find cheap fares.


How Long Did You Take For A Sabbatical or Career Break?

If you have taken a sabbatical or career break (unpaid time off from work) how long did you take?

Similar Posts

Notify of

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments