Google Flights beefs up its features list


ConsumerAffairs puts one of those to the test and it worked as promised

In the online travel booking world, it’s all about features, and holiday travel planners just got a new BFF – Google Flights. The online airfare and reservation aggregator has added a new “cheapest time to book” feature, one designed to clue consumers in on when airfares are likely to be lowest for a specific destination. 

Google Flights users can already see whether search prices are low, typical, or high compared to averages for the same route and set up price alerts. Using reliable trend data, users can now also see the cheapest time to book based on the selected dates and destination.

When ConsumerAffairs took the new feature for a spin, it certainly did what it said it could. We looked for a flight from Cleveland to Denver, leaving on September 14 and returning on September 21.

Without the feature, we were confronted with a lowest fare of $128, but with the feature, we could get a flight for $88 – if we changed the dates by a day to September 13-20. Same airline, same nonstop service, too.

Google’s not stopping there, though

Google Flights has two more features that it’s rolling out: price tracking and price guarantee.

The site has had a version of the price tracking feature for a while, but the company apparently has tweaked it a bit. In addition to notifying a traveler when flight prices drop “significantly” for a specific date span and travel from/to locations, there is now an “any dates” price tracker and notifier for those who are more flexible about their plans.

One note: you need to be logged into your Google account to receive the notifications.

The third new twist is a “price guarantee badge” on some flight results, “Which means we’re especially confident the fare you see today won’t get any lower before departure,” James Byers, group product manager, Google Flights, said.

“When you book one of these flights, we’ll monitor the price every day before takeoff, and if the price does go down, we’ll pay you back the difference via Google Pay.”

Byers added the asterisk that these price guarantees are part of a pilot program available for certain Book on Google itineraries that are departing from the U.S.

Don't like searching and want help from a 'real person' instead?

Google's new features can save many a traveler a headache, but if you don't like making your fingers do all the work and would like a real human to do it instead, there's a new service that says it'll be happy to take that load off. 

In an email to ConsumerAffairs, Travel site says it’s “making headway” in helping travelers grab the best deals on airfare, as well as hotel stays, cruises and car rental, too. The advantage it says it has is that it will use real travel experts to help travelers find the best prices instead of relying on just a search engine. 

Customers can go directly to FlightsFinder's travel request section, fill out a short form online, submit a small fee, and an expert will get straight to work, digging up the cheapest deals. Clients will then be directed to where to go to lock in their reservations.

FlightsFinder CEO Shahab Siddiqui told ConsumerAffairs that the fee is “about $20,” but whatever that fee is, it should pay for itself. “We will save you more than that on your flight [or other travel] or your money back,” he said.

Siddiqui was up front about his company’s process, suggesting that it’s simply taking all of the work – and hassle – out of someone going site to site trying to get the best deal on a trip.

He said FlightsFinders' existing network of travel experts will compare flexible dates, departure and arrival airports, and websites, search for coupons and discount vouchers, consider flier miles and multiple one-way flight options, and more. They even go as far as splitting affiliate commissions with consumers so they wind up with a cheaper fare.

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