Plane ticket prices can vary significantly from one day to another and by airline, number of stops, total trip duration, etc. If your dates are flexible, you can easily find cheaper flights using Kayak.com and Google Flights’ price grids. Here’s an example. Say I want to fly from San Francisco to Korea some time in early May.
- I want no more than 1 stop / layover
- I don’t want a layover longer than 4 hours
On Kayak.com, you need to select +- 3 days for each departure and return date.
Choose some filters.
After the search results appear, expand the Flexible Dates section to show the price grid.
What’s nice about Kayak is, when you hover over a price, you see
- the total price
- the airline
- the number of stops
- the total flight plus layover time, if any, for both departure and return
- the total trip duration
In the example above, the $1339 price offers nonstop service for a 9-day trip. If we compare that to the cheapest price ($1095), we’d have to stop somewhere and the total trip duration would be 11 days.
On Google Flights, you can do a similar search. For round trip flights, there will always be a price grid so you just enter your preferred departure and return dates. For the filters, I chose “1 stop or fewer” and “Under 24 hr”.
What’s interesting, and very useful, about Google Flights is, once you choose a departure date, prices start to show up in the date picker so you can choose a return date that is cheaper than others.
Google Flights is really fast. The prices and search results show up almost instantly.
On Google Flights, the cheapest prices are highlighted in green cells. In this example, it’s $1050. Compared to Kayak, it looks like Google Flights has more flight options as all of the cells have a price. However, unlike Kayak, in order to see more information like the airline, trip duration, and number of stops, you have to choose a price and click OK. The price grid will disappear and you will see the flight details.
Which is cheaper?
If we put both grids next to each other, we find that
- Google Flights offers more flights (all cells have a price)
- Google Flights offers either the same price or cheaper prices, even if the price difference is just $1.
Kayak can book flights for you whereas Google Flights will always send you to an external booking website. Price differences are often due to different travel websites offering different prices. It’s always preferable to book directly with the airline as that cuts out any intermediaries and, if there are any issues, you can contact the airline (or Kayak) directly and usually get better customer service. Just because Google Flights may offer cheaper flights, you might still find an overall better deal on Kayak.