Great search results in no time at all and simple usability are Google Flights’ recipes for success. The flight search convinced us in the test, but it is not without small weaknesses. Read below to find out what Google Flights can do – and what it can’t.
Google Flights Review
It hardly gets any better
With an outstanding speed, above-average search results, and numerous search options and filters, Google Flights completely convinced us in the test. The only weakness is the suggestion of (exotic) non-bookable connections in individual cases.
What we liked
- Extremely fast loading times
- High-quality results
- Forwarding directly to airlines
What we did not like
- Some suggestions are not bookable
- Animations slow down operation
Google’s flight search is a so-called meta-search engine: it compares airfares purchased directly from airlines as well as booking options from online travel agencies. We explain how well this principle works and what Google Flights can do.
All the basics are there
In its simple design, Google has all the tools necessary for flight searches at the ready. These include return, one-way and multi-stop searches with up to five segments. Numerous filters are available for airlines, alliances, or flight times. Google’s strength lies first of all in the speed at which the search engine outputs results after entries have been made: The search duration here is barely above the time of a regular Google text search – in stark contrast to most competitors. The short duration, however, is by no means at the expense of the quality of search results. On the contrary: Google reliably delivers numerous meaningful results in a graphically clear presentation.
First of all, Google highlights search results that offer fast flight times and/or favorable prices; in subsequent lists, all other routes can be viewed. The algorithm for selecting the best connections works very well – depending on personal preference, however, it is worthwhile to fly over further connections. Since ads are almost completely absent, all information can be absorbed quickly. Directly in the search results, Google provides information on aircraft type, estimated seat pitch, baggage fees, any basic economy restrictions, and the availability of WLAN onboard – very good. However, we would be pleased if aircraft designations beyond the basic model were a bit more specific: After all, there are quite a few years between the Boeing 747-400 and -800 – but that’s complaining at a high level.
The only real criticism of Google’s interface: the company recently adopted the in-house “Material” design language for Google Flights. The accompanying numerous shadows, 3D buttons, and animations noticeably slow down the operation of the flight search compared to the previous version. Nevertheless, Google’s offering is still the fastest and easiest-to-use flight search in comparison.
Strong multistop search
Particularly positive mention must be made of Google’s multistop or open-jaw search, with which numerous flight segments can be combined in one search and then one ticket and price. If you search for five segments in parallel, you will still enjoy extremely fast loading times and, above all, great results, which do not appear in the test with competitors. In some cases, Google itself seems to offer connections that airlines themselves do not offer on their websites, or offer only reluctantly: Google happily suggests a cheap multistop ticket across the U.S. booked with United with numerous American Airlines segments, but there is no trace of it in the United.com search.
Surrounding airports and data
Google also proactively suggests alternative flight dates or departure and destination airports in the vicinity during the flight search, provided this gives the user a clear price advantage. The feature proved to be extremely practical in the test – also because it is not too intrusive.
Incidentally, users can select multiple departure and destination airports during the search. This does not slow down the search at all, but it does provide the user with significant price advantages under certain circumstances. This multi-airport search is achieved by entering several IATA airport codes separated by commas. For example, “DRS, FRA, TXL, DUS, HAM”.
Once you have found suitable flights on Google Flights, you usually book them directly with the corresponding airline. Google reliably forwards you to the appropriate website, where you only have to enter your personal data. This forwarding usually works very well. However, Google rarely finds (especially complicated) connections that cannot be booked with the airline, or only at a higher price. This is annoying but is noticed early in the selection process. A large number of high-quality and also bookable search results make up for this weakness.
Google also compares prices at travel agencies, so that in individual cases a cheaper price is available at Expedia and Co. – in this case, Google forwards to corresponding alternative sites. Here, however, individual flights have to be selected again in some cases, and booking fees may also be incurred – so we always recommend booking directly with the airline of choice. Fortunately, Google does not refer to dubious booking portals with aggressive advertising for additional service packages.
In exceptional cases, flights can be booked directly with Google Flights free of charge, for example with the airline Virgin America. European airlines do not seem to have entered into such partnerships.
If you have a Google account, you can save flight connections and track the price development in a diagram. If you want, you can also configure an e-mail alert for price changes – very practical if the planned departure is far in the future and there is still time to wait for offers.
For the indecisive
Google’s focus is clearly on the quick search for specific connections. Nevertheless, the portal offers some inspiration for undecided users: On a world map, Google marks destinations in connection with associated prices, and the search can also generate concrete suggestions based on vague ideas: Month and region information thus quickly become concrete destinations and suitable times.
Google Flights: The best alternatives
Doesn’t suit you? You are looking for suitable alternatives? Below you will find the best Google Flights alternatives.
We also recommend that you take a look at our flight search engine best lists. You can find comparable products in the best list “The five best flight search engines: On these portals, you book the cheapest”.
Google Flights: Datasheet
Here you can find the technical data of Google Flights. Size, weight, and other features can be easily compared with other products.
- Multistop search ✔ Yes
- Flexible data ✔ Yes
- Flexible destinations ✔ Yes