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Innovation

Google Flights will now tell you when you can get the cheapest flights

There's no shortage of tips on when you should book a flight, but now you can know for sure, at least according to Google.
Written by Artie Beaty, Contributing Writer
Google Flights
Google

If you've booked airfare with Google Flights, you're probably aware of the low, typical, or high rating given to a booking to let you know what kind of deal you're getting. But a new feature will let you know a date range of when you can book to get the cheapest price. 

Google Flights already has a price history feature to let users see a graph of ticket prices over the past months. Now, if prices are either typical or high, Google suggests dates to book when prices will be cheap. If the current price is cheap, Google estimates how long users have to book their flight. 

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To test the feature, I checked potential flights from Miami to Chicago. Google Flights let me know that the current price, $295 round trip, was high. It recommended that the cheapest time to book would be Dec. 21 to March 20.

Flights on Google Flights
Screenshot by Artie Beaty/ZDNET

Clicking on that recommendation showed a little more info. Google added, "The lowest prices for similar trips to Chicago are usually found about one to three months before takeoff. Prices during this time are $53 cheaper on average."

Google's new date estimates aren't available on all flights -- just the ones with enough data to make a solid guess.

Of course, buying a plane ticket at the exact lowest point is a fluid science, and you'll find countless tricks online to hit that magic point. And just because tickets have historically been cheaper during a certain month, doesn't mean the same month next year will bring the same result.

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Google believes in its algorithms so much, though, that it recently started guaranteeing certain flight prices. For some flights in the US, Google Flights will mark them with a "guaranteed price" -- meaning that the price should stay the same until the flight leaves. If the flight's price goes down, Google will reimburse the difference.

If you want to manually keep an eye on things instead of trusting Google's suggested date, you can turn on Flights's price tracker, which automatically sends you an alert if a ticket's price drops significantly.

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