Google Flights Now Shows When The Best Time is to Book Flights
Already our favorite tool for finding cheap flight deals, Google Flights has just added yet another powerful feature. It now shows the cheapest time period to book certain routes. Read on to learn how to use this new feature and what it means for your overall strategy.
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Google Flights Introduces The Cheapest Time to Book Flights Feature
There are many myths surrounding the best & worst times to book flights. Many people swear it is Tuesday at 5 a.m. Others say Sunday afternoon is the best time. In reality, cheap flight prices are available 24/7, and no one time or day of the week is better than others as a blanket rule.
For select itineraries with reliable trend data, Google Flights now shows the ideal date range for booking at the cheapest price, according to a blog post. Previously, Google told you if your current price was low, typical, or high. It also showed a recent price history graph for the search. While that let you see the trend, it did not tell you the best time to book.
That unknown created a lot of stress because there was no indication of where the price could go next. The new feature shows the following details.
- The date you should book by.
- The date range for when prices are typically cheapest (for example, 1-3 months before takeoff).
- How much you save by booking in the recommended date range.
Why This Feature is So Powerful
It takes a lot of the guessing game out. Despite having price trend data, it was tough to know when to book. Many times, I’ve waited for a good deal to become a great deal, and it never happened. In other scenarios, I waited for a typical price to go down, and it only got more expensive.
Now, there is real clarity from Google Flights. Currently, if I find a price I like, I book. Now, I may pause and consider waiting if Google thinks it may get cheaper. It really depends on the route and how urgent it is to book immediately.
Pair it With Google Flights Price Alerts
This new information makes Google Flights Price Alerts even more valuable. If Google tells you the price is going to drop, simply set an alert to be notified when it happens. When the email comes, book if the price works for you. If Google thinks waiting makes sense, leave the alert on.
Consider a Google Flights Price Guarantee
For some routes, Google is sure the price is at its lowest. If so, you may see a “Price Guarantee” badge next to your itinerary. This means Google will refund you the difference (must be greater than $5) if your flight price goes down after booking. Here is how to qualify.
- The flight must have the guarantee badge
- You must book with Google using the Google Pay App (within 90 days of departure)
- The flight must depart from the United States
- Maximum of $500 back per calendar year)
If you see the badge next to your ideal flight, just book now. If the price drops, you’re guaranteed to get the lowest price (unless the drop is over $500).
Further Reading: Google Flights Price Guarantee
How This Changes The Flight Booking Process
This feature works well with our current strategy for finding cheap flights — Pick your travel dates based on the cheapest days to fly. Here is how to do it.
- Use Google Flights calendar view to find the cheapest days to fly for your routes. Or use the Google Flight Explore Map if you are flexible with your destination.
- Click the cheapest dates.
- Look for the cheapest time to book data (it may or may not show)
- If it says prices will go down, set an alert and wait. If it says now is the time to book, you should book now.
- If there is a “price guarantee” badge, book the flight through Google following the guidelines.
That means you can ignore the myths like clearing browser cookies to show cheap flight prices and waiting until very early on Tuesday morning to book.
The Vacationer Tip
Some Guidelines to Still Keep in Mind
Remember, this is just another tool for your arsenal. Here are a few things to consider before booking a flight.
- General How Far to Book in Advance Guidelines: The general rule of booking domestic flights 1-3 months in advance and international ones 2-8 months in advance is still solid advice. Of course, it varies by route and the time of year, but it is a good starting point.
- Book Even Earlier for Holiday Flights: I recommend booking even further in advance for holiday flights around Thanksgiving and Christmas. That means book your holiday flights over the summer or in early September for the best prices and inventory. Google says to book Christmas flights in October for the best deals, but I think that is too late to wait. See our when to book Christmas flights guide for more information.
- Fly on These Days: Generally, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays are the cheapest days of the week to fly.
- Be Aware of the 24-Hour Flight Cancellation Rule: Flights touching U.S. soil booked directly with the airline at least seven days in advance are eligible for the 24-hour flight cancellation rule. If you see a great price for you, book it immediately and then enjoy the 24 hours to decide if you want to keep it or cancel it.
The Vacationer’s Final Thoughts
This feature solidifies Google Flights as the best tool for finding cheap flight deals. I highly recommend starting and ending your flight search with Google Flights. Unless there is a “price guarantee” badge, always book your flight directly with the airline after finding it on Google Flights.
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