I have not been paid by any entity in any way (financially, benefits) to write this post.
I get the same question a lot: How do you manage to travel so much? And always in First Class and sleek hotels!
My typical answer: it’s complicated.
Its complicated because its kind of a complex system that can be overwhelming, complicated, and frustrating for those that lack the understanding and patience. I’m not trying to sell myself as some “super-expert” by any means, because I most definitely am not. All I’m going to do is try my best to share the honest information that I always use to travel, hoping that it will help you now and/or in the future. That’s why I’m starting the Travel in Style series, which is aimed to help you achieve your travel dreams!
I want cheap flights!
Alright, so you want cheap flights? You could always go to Trivago, Expedia, or some other online travel agency, or OTA for short. The downside is that if you become a frequent flyer member of an airline (which you definitely should), your benefits could be undercut by the airline if you book through these OTAs, not to mention that the airlines will typically refer you to them if something is wrong with you ticket or something bad like a cancellation happens during your trip. So what do I typically use to find cheap flights?
All day, everyday. I love Google Flights, because it always shows me the best prices on every airline that it has access to. If I want to fly from Houston to Chicago, Google Flights will pull up all available flights on all available airlines on all available days from all available airports. Got it? No? Ok, let me explain.
This is the Google Flights main page, and if you allow Google to know your location, it will automatically input the closest airport to you. From here, you can type in your departing airport, your desired destination, and the days you’d like to be (or have to be) gone.
So let’s pretend we want to go from Houston to Chicago.
Google Flights automatically shows you your departure options from Houston: Intercontinental or Hobby. You can select one or the other, or just select “Houston, Texas All airports” to see your flight options from all airports available. If you select “Show More Nearby Airports”, other airports in relatively close proximity will be presented to you as options.
Next, we input Chicago as our desired destination.
You can see that O’Hare, Midway, and Rockford show up as arrival airports. To simplify our scenario, we’ll choose Houston Intercontinental (IAH) as our departure airport and Chicago’s O’Hare (ORD).
Now its time to select the dates!
I want to leave in August, so Google Flights shows me the best ticket price for every day in August. Let’s decide to leave on August 14th.
Next we want to select the return date. Google Flights will show you the cheapest days to return back to your originating airport. It shows August 19th to be more expensive than August 18th, so we’ll choose the 18th.
So now lets see what Google Flights shows us >>>
Google Flights presents you the best option based on price and travel time. Although these are the “best,” you can find cheaper flights by choosing the “longer or more expensive flights” since longer flights are undesirable and sometimes cheaper.
But what if you’re a member of Delta’s frequent flyer program and want to earn miles on your trip? Or what if you’re an Aussie that is a Qantas frequent-flyer, and want to have access to complimentary checked bags on American thanks to your Oneworld status?
You can click on the “Airlines” drop-down list and select any of the alliance or airline options that allow their fares to be shown on Google Flights. There are some airlines, however, that don’t show their fares to Google Flights, the most notable being Southwest.
But what if you don’t want to fly any of the options shown? What if you have a meeting at 10AM but don’t want to leave later 2PM? Then click on the time drop-down and select the time period that is best for you.
Now beware! Some of the fares on United, American, and Delta are “Basic Economy” fares, which you can read about here: United Basic Economy | American Basic Economy | Delta Basic Economy. These fares are usually cheaper and, depending on the airline, can limit your access to overhead bins and other typical perks. At the time of writing, if you select “Overhead Bin Access”, this would show you the non-Economy Basic fares, essentially showing you a regular economy class experience.
Perhaps you want to rack up those elite segments? Or you absolutely do not want to connect anywhere. Then click the “Stops” dropdown and choose the option that fits you best.
At the end of the day, if you have specific travel dates for a trip in your mind, input them on Google Flights and let it do the hard work for you. I usually use Google Flights to guide me towards the ticket I really want. Heck, I’ve purchased round-trip tickets from my hometown to Hong Kong for about $550 dollars! And it was in big part thanks to Google Flights.
You won’t always be successful, and you won’t always get exactly what you want, but if you use Google Flights as one of your tools in traveling, then you will undoubtedly save yourself some cash that you can use at your destination! What I personally do is see what days and airlines are cheapest, then go and see all the options available at the airline I choose’s website.
I hope this info helps you get closer to your dream trip. Subscribe via email to our page, and feel free to contact us at any of our social media pages or email if you have any questions! Or drop by the comment section.
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As always, remember to keep living life one trip at a time!