The latest version of Google Flights provides you with new information designed to help you make a more informed choice about when to book a ticket for a flight.
“Most of the time, it’s better to book on the early side, especially when your plans aren’t very flexible,” Google Flights’ James Byers says in a blog post introducing the new features. “But flight prices do change frequently, and there are often low fares to be found with the right tools (and some perseverance).”
Byers points out that Google Flights already shows you whether current prices for your search are low, typical, or high compared to past averages for the same journey, adding: “But the age-old question remains: Is it better to book now or wait for lower prices to come along?”
To help make the decision easier, Google Flights has launched improved insights for searches that means you’ll be able to see when flights ticket prices have typically been lowest based on your selected dates and destination.
In an example provided by Byers, we see a flight inquiry that was made, say, in early September. It’s for a round-trip flight between New York to Miami heading out on December 21 and returning eight days later. Google Flights’ response says: “The cheapest time to book is usually later, September 13 – December 7.” It points out that “prices are currently high,” and adds that the lowest rates for such a journey are usually found between one and three months before takeoff. It even tells you how much you can save if you make the booking at the right time, in this case about $59.
Byers explains: “These insights could tell you that the cheapest time to book similar trips is usually two months before departure, and you’re currently in that sweet spot. Or you might learn that prices have usually dropped closer to takeoff, so you decide to wait before booking. Either way, you can make that decision with a greater sense of confidence.”
If you’re reluctant to wait for lower fares before making your reservation, Google Flights also offers price tracking, which, once set up, will automatically alert you if flight prices see a notable fall.
Another feature is the price guarantee badge that appears when Google Flights believes that the fare you’re looking at won’t get any lower before departure. It means that if you go ahead and book, Google Flights will refund you the difference via Google Pay if the ticket drops in price after you book it. But take note: These price guarantees are part of a pilot program available for select “Book on Google” itineraries departing from the U.S.
The update looks like a useful addition to Google Flights and will hopefully save you a few bucks when it comes to your next trip. Of course, it’s always worth checking a few platforms for the best fares, with sites like Skyscanner, Momondo, and Kayak also worth a look.