Friday, December 1, 2023

Google Flights’ new update to help travelers find the best prices

Google’s latest update is making it easier for travelers to score great deals on flights by getting even more specific with its trend insights. According to Google, its “cheapest time to book” feature will let travelers know when airfares are expected to be lowest for booking their preferred destination.

Here’s how to snatch that deal:

1. Get new insights on the cheapest time to book

On Google Flights, travelers can already see whether current prices for their search are low, typical or high compared to past averages for the same route. But the age-old question remains: Is it better to book now or wait for lower prices to come along?

Now, with Google’s upgraded insights to make that choice a bit easier, travelers can see when prices have typically been lowest to book on their chosen dates and destinations.

For example, 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.

2. Turn on price tracking

For those who do not want to wait for lower fares before you book, price tracking can do most of the heavy lifting.

When price tracking is enabled, Google will automatically notify travelers when flight prices drop significantly. Travelers can set up tracking for specific dates, like a best friend’s destination wedding in February or, if you’re more flexible, they can turn on “Any dates” price tracking to receive emails about deals anytime in the next three to six months.

3. Snag a price guarantee

On some flight results, travelers will see a colorful price guarantee badge, which means Google is especially confident the fare won’t get any lower before departure. When travelers book one of these flights, Google will monitor the price every day before takeoff, and if the price does go down, they will pay back the difference via Google Pay. These price guarantees are part of a pilot program available for select Book on Google itineraries departing from the U.S.

2023 flight booking trends

Outside of these tools, Google has gathered other information to help travelers travel on a budget. Last year, Google shared money-saving insights based on historical pricing trends on Google Flights. According to the numbers from the latest data, most of the tips from 2022 still hold true: Taking a layover or avoiding weekend departures are among the best ways to save on your next flight booking.

But things have changed a bit for flights around Christmas and flights to Europe.

In both scenarios, Google recommends to book even earlier than usual. According to their findings:

Best time to book flights for Christmas: For trips starting in mid-December, travelers are most likely to find deals around early October. Average prices tend to be lowest 71 days before departure — a big change from the 2022 insights, which found that average prices were lowest just 22 days before departure. And the typical low price range is now 54-78 days before takeoff.

Best time to book flights from the U.S. to Europe: Average prices have been lowest 72 days or more before departure. In other words, average airfares from the U.S. to Europe only tend to increase over time, especially about 10 weeks from departure.

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