How and Why to Use Google Flights Price Tracker

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You’ve seen us tout the utility of Kayak Price Alerts and how they can help you find cheap airfare. Today I’m going to teach you how to use Google Flights to do the same thing, and even take it a few steps further.

Right now the Barclaycard Arrival Plus offers 50,000 bonus Arrival miles after spending $3,000 on it in the first 90 days. The bonus + the Arrival miles you’ll earn for meeting the minimum spending requirement are worth more than $560. You can redeem the miles to offset any travel expense greater than $100 inside your Barclaycard account within 120 days of the purchase.

Credit card links have been removed from posts and added to the menu bar at the top of every page of MileValue under the heading Top Travel Credit Cards.

Arrival miles can be redeemed for any travel expense like any flight (no blackouts), taxes and fees on award tickets, hotels, Airbnb, car rentals, cruises, and more. They’re a great way to diversify your rewards collection and fill in the gaps for cheap cash flights when you can’t otherwise get enough value out of redeeming region or distance based miles.

In light of this elevated sign up offer, I figured now would be a good opportunity to add another weapon to your arsenal of cheap flight finding skills.

There are two different ways to utilize Google Flights’ price tracking tool:

  1. To track the price of a flight specified by cabin, origin, destination, and dates, but without regard to flight times, number of stops, or carrier. For easy reference, let’s call this General Price Tracking.
  2. To track the price of a specific flight, so all criteria are specified (carrier, cabin, origin, destination, dates, flight times, and number of stops). For easy reference, let’s call this Specific Price Tracking.

General Price Tracking

Tracking the price of the cheapest ticket only considering cabin, origin, destination, and dates is simple. First input that information on the Google Flights homepage.screen-shot-2016-11-05-at-6-30-21-pm

Directly above where the search results are listed and below the search boxes is a box that says Track Prices. Toggle the Off/On switch to On… screen-shot-2016-11-04-at-6-29-45-pm

… and Google will track (daily) the cheapest flight for your desired origin/destination pair, dates, and cabin.

Specific Price Tracking

If you want to track the price movements of a flight specified by all criteria (carrier, cabin, origin, destination, dates, flight times, and number of stops), first input your desired cabin, origin, destination, and dates into the appropriate search boxes.

screen-shot-2016-11-05-at-6-30-21-pmThe outbound search results will be listed first. Click the outbound flight you’re interested in tracking (like the American Airlines flight I circled below).

screen-shot-2016-11-04-at-6-30-46-pm

The details of the flight you select will display at the top of the next page you’re directed to, above the inbound options. Next click the inbound flight you’re interested in tracking.

screen-shot-2016-11-04-at-6-31-19-pm

The following page will display details of both the outbound and inbound flights you selected, along with options to book, track, or share the flights.

screen-shot-2016-11-04-at-6-31-42-pm

Click Track price, and Google will track (daily) the cheapest price for the specific flights.

Checking the Progress of your Price Tracking

You can see the progress of the prices you’re tracking multiple ways…

  • by clicking the View all link next to Track prices, which appears in a box above the search results from any flight queryscreen-shot-2016-11-05-at-6-43-02-pm
  • by clicking View tracked prices which appears in the Book, Track, or Share this flight box after selecting specific flights from search results

screen-shot-2016-11-04-at-6-32-12-pm

  • by clicking the three stacked lines on the left hand side of the header toolbar (visible at all times when using Google Flights), which opens a drop-down menu where you select Tracked prices

screen-shot-2016-11-05-at-6-54-43-pm

All three actions will take you to the same landing page, which is where you can see the progress of any/all flight prices you’re tracking, general or specific. For example, here is the Tracked prices page for the two examples I gave above.

screen-shot-2016-11-05-at-7-03-44-pmI just started tracking these prices yesterday (one general, one specific), so there aren’t many points on the graph yet, but you can still get the gist. Presented in this manner, it’s easy to follow patterns in the price history.

I haven’t received any yet, but I assume if a price you’re tracking changes significantly you will receive an email notification as long as you toggle “Email notifications on” in the top right corner of your Tracked prices page. And if you use Google Now you’ll also receive notifications via any Google Now connected device.

Optimizing Travel Dates

The price tracking techniques described above involve picking specific travel dates. But what if you’re flexible and want to optimize your trip around the cheapest days to travel? Is there a way to see that so you can track multiple flights on differing outbound/inbound dates or for differing lengths? Yep.

When you click in the calendar search box to set your outbound and inbound dates, a calendar pops up with a price under each day for how much it would cost to start (in the inbound box) or end (in the outbound box) your desired length of a trip.

screen-shot-2016-11-05-at-7-28-15-pm

If you click Flexible dates (to the right of Calendar), a chart will appear with prices for differing travel dates.

screen-shot-2016-11-05-at-7-28-41-pm

And if you click Price graph (to the right of Flexible dates), you’ll see a comparison of prices over the course of multiple months, adjustable by both trip length and travel dates.

screen-shot-2016-11-05-at-7-28-52-pm

Bottom Line

Finding cheap airfare is an elemental skill in the miles and points hobby. Use Google Flights price tracking tool to watch for price dips so you can jump at a good deal when you see it. You can even monitor the price of a specific flight if flying a certain carrier or a specific route/time of the day is more important to you than finding the overall cheapest flight, or if you want the ability to compare the price fluctuations of a preferred flight to the cheapest one.

If the cash ticket’s cheap enough, sometimes it’s not worth redeeming your region or distancesd based miles. That’s when credit card points pretending to be miles–like Arrival miles–step in. Redeem them for a fixed value of one cent per mile in the form of retroactive statement credits on any flights (or a bunch of other travel expenses). Right now, it’s easy to earn a lot of Arrival miles at once with the sign up bonus from the Barclaycard Arrival Plus. You’ll get 56,000 of them for spending $3,000 on the card in three months, worth $560 in travel expenses.


Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

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