Google Flights is a nearly perfect way to find the least expensive option when buying airline tickets. Its newest feature, price guarantee, helps even more by not only showing users which flight is cheapest right now, but when to book to get the best deal. 

Google Flights’ price guarantee

Any time I book a flight, Google Flights is my first stop. It easily shows what different airlines are charging for flights around the same day and time. Now, it helps travelers be even more confident when buying with a new feature that only gives travelers the green light to purchase when it believes they’re getting the best price.

On flight searches with what Google considers reliable trend data, it may suggest buyers wait until a different time frame when there could be a better deal. Users will be able to see when prices have typically been lowest to book. Google might suggest you wait until two months before departure, or even closer to takeoff.

Christmastime travel, for instance, is likely to have the lowest prices 71 days before departure this year. Contrast that with 2022, when average prices were cheapest just 22 days before departure. That’s a huge change and it’s looking like booking near the first of October is going to be your best bet. But now we can use Google Flights’ new feature to be sure.

Once you find the least expensive flight for your travel, look for a price guarantee badge on some results (it looks like a colorful shield with a dollar sign in the middle). If you book one of those flights, Google is so confident in its algorithms, that it will pay you back the difference if the price goes down before takeoff.

The payback only happens if the difference is greater than $5 and a user’s country is set to U.S. and currency to USD, or dollars. There are a few other restrictions, but travelers can get up to $500 back per year via Google Pay. Even if the flight’s price drops and then goes up again, Google will still pay you the difference of what you paid versus the lowest price. These price guarantees are part of a pilot program and aren’t available on all itineraries, so keep an eye out for that shield near the flight prices during your search.

The cons of Google Flights

Google Flights isn’t perfect. I’ve always been disappointed that it doesn’t include Southwest Airlines prices in its search results. It does show available flights, but the all important costs of the flights are left out. Sounds like it’s not Google Flights decision, though. The company told Nerd Wallet the airlines’ unique and customer-friendly business model “includes making our fares available to the general public only on Southwest.com.”

Some of the standout features of Google Flights are hard to find on other flight comparison sites. You can set filters for stops, airlines and price, but the one I find most valuable is regarding bags. Increasingly, airlines are charging for any type of baggage allowance other than a personal item. So when you think you’ve landed a bargain on a flight, as you continue with a purchase, you discover you’ll have to pay extra for a checked bag, or even more for a carry-on.

I’ve even been tricked before, not realizing my flight didn’t come with a baggage allowance until my purchase was complete. Most recently I noticed if you book the least expensive “basic economy” ticket on United Airlines, there are no free carry-ons. This doesn’t apply on some transatlantic and transpacific flights. Google Flights has a filter where you can choose to only see those flights that come with a carry-on included in the price. Since purchasing a carry-on can often run up to $40 each way, it’s a valuable option.

Since most of us are acting as our own travel agents these days, take advantage of every option when it comes to finding the lowest price. Google Flights’ new features certainly can help.