Aaaand we’re back! Welcome to PART 2 (also the last part) of this informative and witty (at least I like to think so, and you can’t tell me otherwise) post about GOOGLE FLIGHTS – TOP 10 TRICKS TO GET THE BEST AND CHEAPEST FLIGHTS!
Last time, in PART 1, I covered my first 5 tricks. Today, we’re going to wrap it up with the final five, including the JANDERLUST TOP TRICK. Read on, and see how much money and time you and I will be able to save on our flights!
To refresh your cloudy memory, this is the summary of PART 1:
“As a starting point, I’m going to look for a round-trip flight from BRUSSELS, Belgium (BRU) to HO CHI MINH CITY, Vietnam (SGN) with departure on Saturday 2 DECEMBER 2018 and return on Saturday 16 DECEMBER 2018. The benchmark price we’re trying to beat is 712USD for a 16h flight.
In my humble opinion, this was the best deal we found so far:
New price to beat: 599USD – 14.5h flight time.”
And also a quick recap of where we left off:
JANDERLUST’s 10 TRICKS FOR GETTING MOST OUT OF GOOGLE FLIGHTS
- “BEST FLIGHTS” – CHECK!
- FILTERING FOR DUMMIES – CHECK!
- GOOGLE TIPS – CHECK!
- GET CHEAPER PRICES WITH MULTIPLE DEPARTURES – CHECK!
- A MAP SPEAKS A THOUSAND WORDS: EXPLORE DESTINATIONS – CHECK!
- LET GOOGLE DO THE TRACKING FOR YOU
- BAGGAGE FEES ARE THE BEES KNEES
- IN-FLIGHT SERVICES? YES PLEASE!
- SAVING MONEY AS YOU BOOK: GOOGLE DISCOUNTS
- JANDERLUST TOP TRICK: PRICE EVOLUTIONS
Everybody loves a sequel, ain’t that right, all you ‘Die Hard’ fans out there?
6. LET GOOGLE DO THE TRACKING FOR YOU
A functionality that is also found at other flight comparing websites (e.g. SkyScanner). If you are logged into your Google-account, you will receive automatic e-mail updates of saved trips when prices fluctuate. This is particularly handy when you are really flexible in your travel dates. If prices drop, you get a notification and you can snatch up that low price you’ve been waiting for. You can activate a new tracker by switching ON the ‘Track prices’ button.
To manage your trackers, go to the Menu-button in the upper left-hand corner and check ‘Tracked prices’. (You can also switch off your e-mail notifications in this menu). I had a previous tracker in here (heading to Lisbon, Portugal). The graph clearly shows prices have risen because the departure date has come closer.
I’m a data geek, so for me this is the equivalent of leaving your grilled cheese sandwich unguarded for your golden retriever. I just can’t resist.
7. BAGGAGE FEES ARE THE BEES KNEES
But immediately finding out the relevant baggage fees that apply to your trip without dissecting every airlines’ website, definitely is.
Go to ‘Additional bag fees may apply’, select an airline and you’ll be redirected to their baggage policy.
8. IN-FLIGHT SERVICES? YES PLEASE!
I don’t know about you, but this man needs his in-flight entertainment. In fact, I even look forward to seeing some new movies (even if they do cut the ‘airplane exploding in the sky’ scenes). After selecting a flight, GF will display the flight duration and in-flight options on the right side, such as Wi-Fi, on-demand video, USB,…
9. SAVING MONEY AS YOU BOOK: GOOGLE DISCOUNTS
Flights are obviously not solely sold by the respective airlines. Some ‘middle men’ (e.g. eDreams, Expedia,…) offer the same flights. Sometimes at discount prices. And although it requires some luck, you can really strike a bargain. So what does that mean for our example?
After selecting your round-trip flights, you can scroll down to book via providers. (Disclaimer by Google: Google might be compensated to show those offers. But as long as little ol’ me profits, who really gives a *bleep*, right?). In our case, we can see the familiar quoted price of 712USD. If I click through to Emirates and Expedia, I get that exact price. When I check eDreams, I only have to pay 594€. In other words, I save 3€ (like 5USD). Not much, but I’ve had flights to Madrid (Spain) where I saved 50USD on a 120USD flight with these ads.
10. JANDERLUST’s TOP TRICK: PRICE EVOLUTIONS
Even though this last section is a bit more ‘analytical’ than you might be used to from a travelblog, I’m not going to apologize for being like the ‘grilled cheese retriever’ mentioned earlier. Why? Because this is the most flexible way to find the lowest price in a certain period of time. And it applies to most travelers that still hold a ‘normal 9-to-5’ job (whatever that means to you).
Scenario time: your boss allows you two full weeks off (in other words, ten weekdays plus two weekends) somewhere in December and January. You have always wanted to go to Vietnam (so we’re not looking into other destinations). You have to fly from Brussels because you don’t have a car, and for some reason there is no way to get to another departure airport (or you are just not that flexible in getting to another airport). We’re all on the same page? Good.
OPTION 1 – CALENDAR VIEW / FIXED DATES
This is the first and most basic option to find out prices for a FIXED TWO WEEK trip. You can find views like this on basically every other price comparing site.
Click in the ‘Departure date’ box and check out the dates for December and January.
The lowest prices we can find here is 577USD on several dates. If we want to maximize our allowed 10 days off, we’d prefer flying from Saturday to Saturday. But those prices are a lot steeper (once again, 712USD). So if we would take Sunday to Sunday, it’d be 599USD. Or if we sacrifice more holidays, 577USD. It all depends on where your focus lies: spend your days off or spend more money. This view is a good first exploratory tool to do that.
OPTION 2 – FLEXIBLE DATES
Next to the ‘Calendar’ view, there is also a ‘Flexible dates’ section. This is more like it. Here you can play with your departure and return dates. Leaving on Saturday Dec. 2 and returning on Mon Dec. 18 will only cost you 577USD, but you’ll need 11 days off. Again, ‘trade-off’ is the operative word here. Where the fixed Calendar view is more about playing with price, this is more playing with dates. OK – that came out wrong…
OPTION 3 – FULL FLEXIBILITY WITH THE PRICE GRAPH
The last option, and my favorite, is the PRICE GRAPH. It gives you full flexibility with trip duration and timing. The best of both worlds.
The horizontal dotted line (in the top graph) is our benchmark: the trip from Dec. 2 – Dec. 16 (which is a 14 day trip). We want to get below that line.
But first, let’s take a look at the bottom of the screen. This is a long term view of the prices for a 14 day trip (Sat – Sat, Mon – Mon, etc…). What immediately becomes clear is the huge price hike around Christmas/New Year, so we’re going to avoid that period altogether. But we can also see that prices return to normal after that…Mmm, interesting.
Stretch your back, have own last sip of that pitcher of pina colada…because it’s time for limbo! You can hover over the graph’s vertical bars that are visually below that dotted line, and a pop up will appear with the exact dates and prices. I think Sun. Dec. 10 til Sun. Dec 24 is a nice selection: it’s only 577USD which is below our benchmark, I only need 10 days off and I’ll be back to put myself into a food coma at the family Christmas dinner.
See, I told you this grilled cheese retriever still had some tricks up his sleeve.
We started with a 712USD flight of 16 hours, and were able to bring that down substantially to a 599USD with a bit over 14h flight time. Or 577USD when you’re more flexible with your travel dates. That’s a win of 100+USD and 2 hours not spent wishing the guy in front of you wouldn’t recline that far back.
Also, we found numerous cheaper options in Asia, and got inspired to look beyond our initial destination. That’s worth something in my book!
Dear reader, if you are still with me, thank you. It’s been a long read, I know. My fingers are cramping up while I’m approaching this 2500+ word limit. But you have to admit, for whatever reason, a turbulent flight that’s on the cheaper end of the spectrum somehow seems to rock a bit less than the more expensive ones, wouldn’t you agree?