New Google Flight Search Simplifies Finding the Best Fares

Anyone who’s ever tried to book business travel for themselves knows how irritating the process can be. There are way too many sites that promise the best deals, but they can’t all be the best, right? Plus, many of the travel sites’ user experience is less than convenient. It’s too difficult to compare flights, or if your travel dates are flexible, it’s not obvious how to manipulate your search to find the cheapest flight. And let’s not even talk about the popups. Leave it to Google to find a completely bare-bones solution that works incredibly well.

Google Flights‘ strength is in its simplicity. To get started, just put in your departure and arrival cities and travel dates. It’s easy to add additional airports just by clicking on your airport and checking off airports you’d be willing to deal with, and Google shows you whether there’s any savings available by expanding your search before you even check off additional airports.

Google Flight Search
My Google Flight Search. Easy.

Plus, you don’t have to start your search over to compare fares by date. Simply click inside the date window for either your departure or return, and move the date forward or back. The results update almost instantly, taking away a lot of the headache of other flight search engines.

So, how do the prices compare? I used Kayak to search for a roundtrip flight from El Paso International (ELP) to Baltimore-Washington International (BWI) leaving Sunday December 20 and returning Monday December 31st. Same results. (Cheapest flight was $420.00 roundtrip, in case you’re interested.) And because of the simpler design I could actually see more flight options at once and process my choices quicker.

For another point of comparison, I tried the same search using Hipmunk, my usual go-to flight search site (and app). Lo and behold, I get the same price results. It’s definitely easier to manipulate travel dates in Google to get a quick answer on price. But they are missing one of my favorite features of Hipmunk, which is being able to sort flights by “agony.” What’s that? It’s basically an aggregate score of all the things that make flying a hassle: how long the flight will be, how long any stops or layovers might be, how early/late you arrive, and so on.┬áThink of it as Hipmunk’s measure of how demoralizing the entire experience is.

True, Hipmunk‘s an example of flight search with lots of info, but it’s actually arranged to help you understand what you’re looking at, instead of distract you and/or get you to buy things. I’d recommend it if price isn’t your primary concern, and instead you’re looking to minimize the trade-offs between price, convenience and comfort (and there are always trade-offs). For simple straighforward price comparison, Google Flights can’t be beat.