How to find cheap flights, according to Google Flights



Ever wonder how to game Google Flights? Us, too.

To help us on our quest for cheaper travel, Google Flights published five years’ worth of airfare data on Wednesday.

The research supports some classic travel wisdom — like the myth we busted that Tuesday isn’t the best day to find cheap flights. But there are also some results that may surprise well-informed travelers — like prices for domestic flights are lowest between 21 and 60 days out.

The engineers looked at average round-trip airfares on Google Flights between Aug. 1, 2017, and Aug. 1, 2022, for six- to nine-day trips and 13- to 16-day trips departing from 4,000 markets in the United States.

The rules of flying like a decent human

James Byers, Google Flights product manager, says they hope their findings will answer users’ top questions, like when to start shopping, particularly as they consider Thanksgiving and Christmas travel.

“We know that holidays this year are extra important to a lot of travelers who might have had to skip them in past years,” Byers said.

Of course, the findings aren’t ultimate truths; they’re patterns. Your best bet is to set up price alerts early, and jump on good fares when they’re available.

How do you actually get those $49 flights? There’s always a catch to airline sales.

Google Flights data showed prices for domestic flights have usually been their lowest between 21 and 60 days out. Those prices tend to bottom out around 44 days before takeoff.

Look for flights that depart in the middle of the week instead of weekends. Flights early in the week are 12 percent cheaper than weekend ones, and Sundays are particularly pricey.

If you’re willing to take a little longer to get to your destination, opt for a layover to find a better deal. Nonstop fares have been 20 percent higher than ones with stops.

Aim to get way ahead of your European travel plans. Prices are lowest between 50 and 179 days before takeoff. The best of those deals tend to pop up 129 days out.

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For Mexico and the Caribbean

Set your shopping window for travel to Mexico and the Caribbean between 37 and 87 days out. The lowest prices were found about two months from departure.

For Thanksgiving and Christmas

For Thanksgiving and Christmas, they looked at trips departing before and returning after the holiday. The results showed you don’t have to lock something in a year in advance, but you shouldn’t wait until the last minute.

Look for domestic Thanksgiving flights within 36 to 74 days ahead of time. The lowest prices were found 52 days out.

For domestic Christmas travel, price drops have occurred within 20 and 88 days before the holiday. early. The lowest average prices showed up 22 days beforehand, although it may be stressful to wait until December to book.

Spring break data was taken from trips beginning in March or April, and showed domestic travelers should look to book flights 23 to 59 days (nearly two months) before their trip. The Google Flight trends shows they tend to hit their lowest price 38 days out.

Google Flight engineers calculated summer data for trips beginning in July or August. Their results found booking flights for those months are lowest on average 21 days out.


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