Google Flights, known to Spanish speakers as Google Flights, is a free flight reservation search service that is exclusively for Google users, which is responsible for facilitating the online purchase of flight tickets. To fulfill its objective, this service uses third parties that provide the service themselves.
However, the really main objective of this service is to offer optimization in the search for flight reservations, that is, to efficiently organize and categorize the data collected, so that the user can correctly select the option that best suits them. Therefore, users use Google Flights to find the cheapest flight tickets available for their travel destination. This service does not present an app version, that is, a client executable on devices, but is only available on the web, directing to the flights website corresponding to the flight option selected on the portal.
Google Flights was launched in September 2011 by Google. The emergence of Google Flights is mainly due to the acquisition of ITA Software by Google in April 2011, as Google used algorithms developed by ITA Software to build what would later become Google Flights. Today, ITA Software is the travel software development industry division.
Google Flights is a Google service that has certain characteristics similar to those of other flight offers search services, for example search engine performance. However, thanks to the influence of ITA Software, it is also a service that presents innovative features, which facilitate the optimization of the flight search. Without further ado, here are the main features of Google Flights :
- Allows open-ended searches based on multiple criteria. This service allows you to configure the flight according to the destination, the range of travel time, the economy, among others, offering various offers. In addition, the search results can be filtered by seat class, airline, baggage fee and stopovers.
- Google Flights is capable of calculating the price of flights for each day of the next 12 months, generating a calendar table and / or graph to view all prices, allowing the user to select the most affordable option for their pocket.
- It makes it possible to book one-way, round-trip or multi-ticket tickets.
- Allows you to track prices by sending notifications by email. Such notifications report when the prices offered by certain companies have changed in value.
- Google Flights is associated with more than 300 companies in the air transport sector, that is, airlines, online travel agencies, aggregators, among others. It should be clarified that none of the partners has influence on the categorization of the flight offers that are offered. Furthermore, due to the finite number of air transport companies, not all offers on the market may be included.
- The price of the displayed offers consists solely of the price of the air transport service, including airport taxes and VAT or GST. This does not prevent additional fees from being incorporated either for luggage, credit card, etc.
How does it work
Google Flights is a service that resides entirely on the web, operating through search algorithms for flight offers, based on multiple criteria of interest to users, ranging from destination, travel time, type of ticket, among others. In these aspects it works in a similar way to any travel offers search website, focused on facilitating the determination of the most affordable options for the user’s budget.
However, Google Flights behaves in a more interactive way, providing suggestions according to the travel budget of its users, making it possible to track the prices of a certain flight and recording search information in a history, so that there are enough personalized actions .
Initially, Google Flights only requires the country of departure to be entered, in order to determine all available offers from local airports. When selecting one of the offers presented, Google Flights will direct the user to the corresponding online site to make the purchase of the ticket, that is, to that of the passenger air transport company whose offer was selected.
How to use
It must be emphasized that to use Google Flights you must be a Google user, that is, have a Gmail account. Activate this account, using Google Flights to get plane tickets is relatively simple. However, to obtain a better orientation and ability to select flight offers, the step-by-step procedure will be developed below both at a basic level and to find the cheapest flight :
How to find a flight
- Enter the Google Flights website flights.google.com orgoogle.com/flights with the Google username activated.
- Select the country of departure.
- Specify the departure airport and the destination airport in the left part of the central box; by placing the name of the city the search engine will show the set of local airports. Likewise, set the travel interval, specifying the dates of the flights in the fields located to the right of the central box. By pressing the calendar icon it is possible to observe how prices vary depending on the day and month.
- At the top of the central box, specify the type of ticket (roundtrip, one-way, multiple cities), the type of passengers (adult, child, infants with a seat, infants without a seat) and their quantity, and the type of seat (economy class, premium tourist class, business class and first class).
- Once the criteria for the trip have been established, press the blue “Search” button located below the box.
- The portal will update and show the available offers, so you only have to select the option you want, which in this case is a one-way flight.
- Then select the most convenient return flight.
- If desired, when selecting flights, use the filters located below the initial search fields. These allow you to filter the results by ” Baggage”, “Stopovers”, “Airline”, “Price”, “Schedules”, “Stopover airports” and the option to buy separate tickets to save on the “More” button .
- In addition, the offers can be ordered according to different criteria, which are “Best flights”, “Price”, “Departure time”, “Arrival time”, “Duration”, by pressing the arrow button located at the top right of the offer table.
- The Google Flights website will be updated again to show the selected flight offers. If you press each one of them, you can see the flight details and the option “Change flight”.
- If the scrolling button “Follow prices” located in the upper right part of the “Selected flights” box is pressed , Google Flights will synchronize with the account to send notifications about changes in flight prices.
- To finish, press the blue “Select” button located below the “Selected flights” box , in order to be directed to the official flight reservation page of the chosen airlines and purchase the ticket.
- If you are not registered with the airline, complete the form to create a user and to find the airline’s means of contact.
- Alternatively, if you want to explore all the flight offers from various places in the world, you can press the “Explore destinations” button from the Google Flights main menu, located at the top right of the Google Maps extract.
- The website will be updated and the extract from Google Maps will be expanded showing all possible flight links from the starting point. Even provide a reduced version of the main search menu of the service located on the left side, as well as the filters mentioned in step N ° 9 to specify certain aspects of the flight.
- Once the destination has been selected, the left menu will be updated and will show the main flight offers, as well as hotel offers and travel recommendations.
- If the button “See flights” is pressed, the user will be directed to the portal of step N ° 6, so if you want to make that flight, apply the steps from N ° 6 to N ° 13 consecutively.
How to find the cheapest flights
- Access the Google Flights website and configure the flight you want to carry out, as described in the first steps of the previous section, specifically from N ° 1 to N ° 6.
- Once the flight offers portal is loaded, before choosing the outbound flight, go to the section below the search engine and filters and press the “Date grid” button .
- A calendar table will appear showing different flight prices for given dates. As can be seen, in the horizontal direction the prices of outward flights are shown, while in the vertical direction the prices of return flights are shown. In addition, as indicated, the most expensive prices will be marked in red, while the affordable ones in green. With the date table you have a more complete view of the flight price variation, and it allows you to adjust the travel dates.
- Alternatively, you can press the “Price chart” button to get another perspective of the price change. The website will update to show a bar graph, with the days / month on the horizontal axis and the price on the vertical axis. At the bottom there are airplane icons pointed to the right and left that symbolize the round trip, being separated according to the travel time.
- To complement the search for cheap prices, you can use the “Follow prices” button in the flight offers menu, in order to update the flight price variations.
Advantages and disadvantages
Google Flights is a tool that has brought multiple benefits to travelers in the air transport sector, since it optimally facilitates the personalized search for affordable offers in the market. However, this service exerts a negative influence on the air transport sector, being a threat to the progress of certain companies. Therefore, to clear the picture around Google Flights, we will present its main advantages and disadvantages:
- The schedules and the prices supplied are reliable, since they come officially from the airline agencies associated with Google.
- Provides the ability to perform exploration searches, that is, without a fixed destination and showing a range of possible travel destinations.
- It allows you to adjust the dates of the flights, offering useful tools to observe the different prices of a given flight.
- It makes it possible to fly between several cities.
- The web interface is simple, minimalist and intuitive, greatly facilitating interaction with the service.
- It only benefits those air transport companies associated with Google, which unbalances the competition in the sector.
- Because it does not include all airlines, the affordability of the offers obtained from the optimal searches is limited and relative. So there may be more affordable offers in the sector that are being ignored.
The market for flight reservation services software is quite competitive and abundant, which is why there are numerous alternatives to Google Flights. However, among the most notable alternative services we highlight the following:
SkyScanner is an application considered by many software analysis websites as the best flight reservation service. This application presents the offers of a certain flight in a similar way to Google Flights, since it shows the days with the cheapest flight prices using a calendar table and a bar graph, and sending price tracking notifications. But, since SkyScanner is an application for mobiles, tablets, etc., it does not depend on the web to notify the user of price variations and so on.
Kayak is an application that has the same level of excellence as SkyScanner, being able to offer the same functions of Google Flights to its users, presenting cheap offers for hotels, car rental and others, without having to enter the web. But the feature that stands out the most is its ability to measure and time the remaining time of a flight.
Momondo is an application that stands out for meeting the high standards of the competition by providing a cheap flight search engine, similar to SkyScanner, Google Flights and Kayak. However, this app is also dedicated to finding cheap hotel deals, based on guest reviews.