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Google Flights Can Save You Money by Revealing the Best Time to Buy Your Airfare

Now you can see when prices have typically been lowest for your chosen dates and destination.

Gael Cooper
CNET editor Gael Fashingbauer Cooper, a journalist and pop-culture junkie, is co-author of "Whatever Happened to Pudding Pops? The Lost Toys, Tastes and Trends of the '70s and '80s," as well as "The Totally Sweet '90s." She's been a journalist since 1989, working at Mpls.St.Paul Magazine, Twin Cities Sidewalk, the Minneapolis Star Tribune, and NBC News Digital. She's Gen X in birthdate, word and deed. If Marathon candy bars ever come back, she'll be first in line.
Expertise Breaking news, entertainment, lifestyle, travel, food, shopping and deals, product reviews, money and finance, video games, pets, history, books, technology history, and generational studies Credentials
  • Co-author of two Gen X pop-culture encyclopedia for Penguin Books. Won "Headline Writer of the Year"​ award for 2017, 2014 and 2013 from the American Copy Editors Society. Won first place in headline writing from the 2013 Society for Features Journalism.
Gael Cooper
2 min read
Southwest Airlines flight taking off against a blue sky

Google Flights will now tell you the best time to book your flight.

James Martin/CNET

Booking a flight can be frustrating. Airfares vary wildly, and even if you know well in advance where you're going, there's no clear consensus as to when you should finally commit and make a purchase. On Monday, Google Flights released a new feature that offers updated insights on when to buy that ticket.

Google Flights already showed whether current prices for your flight search are low, typical or high compared to past averages for the same route. And now you can also see when prices have typically been lowest for your chosen dates and destination.

It works for searches that have reliable trend data.

"These insights could tell you that the cheapest time to book similar trips is usually two months before departure, and you're currently in that sweet spot," the Google blog post notes. "Or you might learn that prices have usually dropped closer to takeoff, so you decide to wait before booking. Either way, you can make that decision with a greater sense of confidence."

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Google Flights now suggests the best time to book airplane tickets.

Screenshot by Gael Fashingbauer Cooper/CNET

Price tracking can help

If it's not a good time to book, you can turn on price tracking on Google Flights to receive automatic notifications for when fares drop significantly. This can be set up for specific dates, or if you've got flexible plans, you can turn on "any dates" to receive emails about deals anytime in the next three to six months. 

Get a price guarantee

You can also watch for a colorful price guarantee badge on certain flight results on Google Flights. According to the blog, this means the site is confident that the fare will not drop. If you book and it does end up dropping, Google will even pay you the difference.

"When you book one of these flights, we'll monitor the price every day before takeoff, and if the price does go down, we'll pay you back the difference via Google Pay," the blog post notes. "These price guarantees are part of a pilot program available for select Book on Google itineraries departing from the US."

General booking tips

If you're not planning a specific trip now, you may still want to take note of these specific travel-booking trips. The blog post notes that the best time to book flights for the holiday season is in early October. That's a big change from the site's 2022 statistics, which found that average prices for mid-December trips were lowest just 22 days before departure.

And if you're thinking of traveling from the US to Europe, the site notes that those average prices have been lowest 72 days or more before departure. Once you're about 10 weeks from a planned European departure, average airfares from the US to Europe tend to increase over time, the post says.

Watch this: How to Find Cheap Flights