With so many folks flying into Boise, Idaho for the 2023 reunion, I thought it would be helpful to share one way in which I track flight prices.
Google Flights is a free website/service that monitors airline ticket prices based on criteria you provide. Unlike other websites like Travelocity, Priceline, and others, Google Flights hooks in directly with the airlines so you’re cutting out the middle man.
It allows you to search from multiple departing airports, tracks most airlines (Southwest being one of sthe major exception), and displays graphs of prices as they change, which can help find the cheapest flights or track which day is cheaper (if your travel dates are flexible). It will also send emails if there’s a price change.
Here’s what it looks like
The first 2 images that follow were created using a mobile phone but the same things apply to a desktop or a laptop.
Clicking on “See all flights” will then take you to the details of all flights, sorted by “best departing flight” based on price. The top of the page incudes various filters you can set to tailor the search to what you’re looking for.
To me it seems rather intuitive but here’s a step-by-step just in case:
- Head over to flights.google.com
- Select your options for:
- Round Trip, One Way, or Multi-city
- Number of people
- Class (Economy, Premium Economy, Business, or First)
- Enter your departing airport(s). If you want to track multiple departing airports, click the + symbol and add additional airports.
- Enter your destination airport(s). TT recommends Boise (airport code BOI).
- Enter your travel dates.
The results come back and displays the “Best departing flights” and “Other departing flights” sections. Between these two sections, that isn’t so obvious, is a collapsed section that shows you what the “typical” prices have been based on history.
Here’s the meat and potatoes of this utility
At the top of the page, you’ll find a myriad of filters you can use to help focus on what’s important to you, like the number of stops, which carrier, time, and connecting airports, just to name a few.
Clicking this will bring up a chart that will show the prices for each day. This will show you for both the departing day and the return day.
In the image above, if I were to leave Boise on Monday rather than Sunday, it would only be $494 for the round trip ticket, saving $51. The other side of that coin is I’d need to spend more than that on a hotel room for the night. Your prices will vary.
This is a little less useful unless you are flexible with your arrival/departure dates but will show you a graph of prices over a range of days
Track Prices (probably the most useful part)
Tracking prices will have Google send you an email if the price changes (increases or decreases). There is also a graph that will show you the prices as they change. If you’re not ready to pull the trigger just yet and want to track the prices for a while, turn on Track Prices. You’ll will need to sign in for this using a Google account.
Just either hit the bell icon or toggle the switch for “Email Notifications”.
There is no perfect tool
While this will help you track prices after you set it up, it will not tell you when you should buy your ticket. Even Google doesn’t know what ticket prices will be like next month and unless you can predict the future, you’re out of luck here.
The best it can do is tell you what prices have been historically and what the average prices have been.
If nothing else, you can see what prices were like before and after you buy your plane ticket. You’ll either feel like you got a good price or you’ll feel like you got the big green weenie.