Finding Cheap Flights Using Google Flights

Many of my friends have asked me, “Buzz, how are you able to find such cheap flights?”  My answer is always “I use Google Flights.” Being a teacher who loves to travel, I have to be able to be responsible when it comes to the cost of my trips.  To my friends, it always seems like I am finding a great deal on airfare.  The reason it looks that way is that I am, thanks to Google Flights and their various search techniques.

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How I Find Cheap Flights

Google flights is the most useful for people who do not have specific dates or a particular destination they want to visit. For example, Google Flights will probably not be able to find you a flight for $300 from Chicago to Stockholm for the exact dates you want to go. However, if you merely want to get to Europe, and your dates are somewhat flexible, Google Flights will find you some fantastic deals.

To take advantage of Google Flights software and find the best deals it is important to select “Flexible Dates.” As seen below, Google Flights is now going to search for a 1-week trip in the next six months.

Finding Cheap Flights with Google Flights: Example 1 - Chicago O'Hare to Barcelona - $329

For this example, I chose to depart from Chicago O’Hare. At the top, you can see that I selected only nonstop flights and clicked that airlines must be from the three main airline alliances (Star Alliance, Skyteam, and One World.) I choose the three main alliances, so I do not end up on an airline such as Spirit or Wow.

You can see by looking at the map that there are many inexpensive nonstop flights to Europe from Chicago. I decided to click on the Barcelona flight.

Google Flights then gave me details of the specific dates. To get the best fare the traveler would depart on September 30th and return on October 9th.

I went to the American Airlines website to verify that this fare existed.  You can see below that for a Basic Economy Fare it costs  $329 round trip.  Basic Economy does not offer a checked bag or a free advanced seating assignment.

If you want a checked bag and pre-assigned seats the fare goes up to $489 per person.  This price is still an unbelievable deal for a round trip flight from Chicago to Europe.

Below is the price for an Economy Ticket as opposed to a Basic Economy Ticket.

Example 2 - New York (Newark) to Madrid - $287

For example two, I switched airports and airlines.  I once again used the flexible dates search but this time departing from New York City.  As always, I selected the three major airline alliances and nonstop flights.  You can see on the map that there are many cheap flights from New York to Europe.  The one that caught my eye was $287 round trip to Madrid.  This price is an unbelievable deal as I have spent more than $287 flying from Chicago to New York.

After clicking on Madrid, Google Flights showed me that the deal was on United with a departure date of September 22nd and return date of October 1st.  Since Google Flights is not a flight booking website, I went to United’s webpage to book the flight.  Once again, the flight was in Basic Economy which meant no seat assignment and no checked bag.

Once again, the great airfare was precisely what Google Flights said it would be.  $287 to fly across the Atlantic is unheard of airfare.

If I wanted to upgrade from Basic Economy to Economy the airfare would go up to $446.  That price is still a great deal.

Finding Cheap Flights with Google Flights: Example 3 - Los Angeles to Paris- $587

For this next example, I made it a little more challenging.  It is less likely to find cheap flights to Europe from the US West Coast.  You can see that after choosing LAX as the departure airport, the prices became a little steeper.  The fare that caught my eye was $587 to Paris on Delta Airlines.  This flight was once again a non-stop flight on a major airline.

The flight’s dates were October 6th through October 15th.  I then went to Delta’s website to check to see if the fare was legit.  The price on Delta’s website was $586 for Basic Economy.

To upgrade to regular economy, the price rose to $726.  Delta also offered additional upgrades to Premium Select and Delta One.  

Finding Cheap Flights with Google Flights: Example 4 - San Fransisco to Hong Kong - $446

Next, I wanted to show that Google Flights doesn’t only work for cheap flights to Europe.  This next scenario uses the same flexible dates search except I am now searching San Francisco to Asia.  You can see that there were many inexpensive flights, but the one that caught my eye was SFO to Hong Kong on Cathay Pacific.  I have flown Cathay Pacific, and it is one of my favorite airlines.  That is no surprise as it is often among the top rated airlines in the world.

The cheap airfare was for the dates of September 30th through October 7th.  I went to Cathay Pacific’s website and confirmed the airfare.  This fare was not a premium economy fare but rather an Economy Supersaver fare.  The airfare did allow seat assignments and a checked bag but would not be eligible for earning flyer miles.

Now, let’s pretend that I didn’t want to go to Hong Kong but instead wanted to go somewhere else in Asia.  Here are prices from Hong Kong to other Asian destinations.  You can see that even if I didn’t want to go to Hong Kong, it would be cheaper to fly there first and then go somewhere else.

Example 5 - Miami to Santiago -$799

For example five, I decided to use Miami as the home airport and South America as the destination.  The airfare that caught my eye was $799 to Santiago on LaTam.  LaTam is my favorite South American airline, and a flight to Santiago for under $1000 is a great deal.

Google Flights provided the dates of May 16th to May 22nd, and I went to LaTam’s website and searched for the flight.  This fare was a regular economy fare and came in at just over $798.

Finding Cheap Flights with Google Flights: Example 6 - Los Angeles to Sydney- $655

Now let’s pick a more challenging scenario.  For this example, I wanted to fly from LAX to Australia.  Once again, we are assuming my dates are flexible.  Google Flights suggests an August 12th departure and an August 20th return.  The airfare is $665 on American Airlines.

I went to American’s website and found the fare.  $665 for regular economy.  American Airlines does not offer basic economy flights to Sydney from LAX.

Now, what if your dates are not flexible.  Google Flights provides a calendar search.  I chose the option of a “10 Day Trip.”  Each date is the departure date with a return date ten days later.  You can see that there are many great deals from LAX to Sydney.

Searching Exact Dates to Different Destinatons

Google Flights also makes it easy to search for specific dates.  Imagine you have a set week off for vacation.  You know the dates but do not know where you want to go.  You can search for your home airport to “Europe” for those specific dates.  For this example, I chose July 13th through July 20th.  My airport selection was Boston.  Boston does not have a lot of non-stop flights, so I selected “1 Stop or Less” for this example.

While the deals are not as good as the flexible dates search, you can see there are still some great prices on the map below including $623 to London, $575 to Copenhagen, and $756 to Rome.  All of these flights are on major airlines with one stop or less.

Some Final Thoughts on Google Flights

One of the keys to finding cheap airfare is to check daily.  I check Google Flights a few times a day, and when I see a good fare, I book right away.  Hopefully, this page provides some useful information for finding cheap airfare.

If you can find a great price on a trip, below is a referral link for  When you sign-up, and then book your first hotel, you will save $20.  I get a referral bonus of $20 as well.  It is a win-win situation.  Hopefully, you can find some cheap flights using Google Flights.  Good luck and happy travels.

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