6 reasons Google flights is the BEST flight search engine
Google Flights has all the features you need when searching for paid flights, and even some that can certainly help with finding award flights (such as finding available routes and dates flown by a certain carrier). If you are looking to do some advanced stuff, then Google Flights is probably not for you. Head on over to the ITA matrix. But if you want something that is easy-to-use and feature-rich for searching the bulk of itineraries, you can’t beat Google Flights.
A leg up on the competition for the best flight search engine
After using Skyscanner a lot to browse flight itineraries, I found myself gravitating more and more to using Google Flights instead. Now it is my go-to. Here are my 6 reasons why Google Flights is the best flight search engine out there:
1. The map interface – This is hands-down my favorite way to search for flights. Maybe it’s because I think spatially and geographically, but I *love* searching for flights via the map. Most of the time I am just browsing for fun, and I nearly always use the map interface. One cool tip is that if you initially search for flights between two cities that you know have nonstop service, you can then filter the stops to ‘Nonstop’ only, and switch to the map UI. The map will be appropriately filtered. Super useful
2. Speed – Google Flights is so much faster than other sites, especially when just doing some searches for fun to ballpark prices. I find that using Momondo, Skyscanner, or OTA platforms, the results take a little while to filter in. Google flights rarely has significant delays. From larger airports, the results are nearly instantaneous. I can perform multiple searches or refine my search in the same time it takes me to look through the results of a single search I have completed on Skyscanner or Momondo
3. Ease of flight selection – Google Flights is the best search engine because lets you easily pick your departure and return independently of each other, and modifies the price results and return flight options appropriately after you select your departure. Then when you click the button to book, you are often taken to the actual provider’s website rather than a 3rd party OTA (although OTAs sometimes show up, too, in the booking options). I’ve booked with United now on 3 occasions after being taken straight to my itinerary by Google Flights. Sometimes you can even book straight through Google (Virgin America, being an example).
4. Flexible Dates View – Within the date selection UI are 2 other tools besides the simple calendar. These are the Flexible Dates interface and the Price Graph. The Flexible Dates interface shows a matrix of departure and return dates and the corresponding lowest prices for each combination. This lets you quickly identify the cheapest options. Skyscanner and Momondo have their own flexible/nearby dates UI, but I love the matrix view of Google Flights. You can even move the date windows and new lowest prices will load.
5. Transparency – I will never, ever book a flight that simply says “major U.S. carrier”. Some sites (such as Momondo) will advertise fares this way! I hate this. There is *no* transparency. Expedia does the same with hotels, advertising a “mystery hotel.” No thanks. I should caveat my statements and say that I *might* consider an option like this if the price is low enough, but it pretty much never is. Google Flights doesn’t ever pull this stupid stunt. It’s transparent. You know what you’re getting. When you select a flight with “multiple carriers”, it tells you exactly who those carriers are.
6. Hands down cleanest UI – After using Google Flights for a while, sites like Skyscanner and most OTAs feel a lot more cluttered. The Google Flights user interface is clean, intuitive, and fun to use. I love it.
Taken together, all these features make Google Flights the best flight search engine. But here is even more to love. The filters make searching for flights on a particular carrier or alliance insanely easy. I’ve often found myself searching United flights via Google flights rather than at united.com. It is both faster and easier to find the flights I want.
On three occasions I have found a flight I liked, and then simply clicked through to finish booking on united.com. I always double check the price with a United search once I am settled, and the Google Flights pricing has always been spot on.
Only on one occasion have I noticed a price discrepancy when I clicked through to book. This was during a WOW flights sale. Google Flights was showing the sale price, but the $69 seats were all gone for many dates. I would click through only to find the fare was now $299.