How to Use Price Alerts to Find the Best Flight Deals

From Google Flights to Kayak, this is how to use algorithms to get the best airfares.

The underside of airplane flying into pink clouds

Websites like and Hopper are designed to help travelers score deals on flights.

Photo by Shutterstock

One of the questions that most plagues frequent travelers is, “Should I book my flight now—or could the price still go down?”

Airline ticket prices are dynamic—they’re influenced by the number of seats available on any given flight, the time of year, demand for the location (for instance, whether there is a special event like the Olympics or a World Cup tournament), the price of oil, the number of flights on any given route, and more—making it very difficult for the average traveler to predict whether certain airfares will go up or down.

While you can surf the web until you find a price you’re willing to pay (or just book and hope you’re able to rebook your flight later if the fare drops), it may be easier to allow price alerts to do the heavy lifting for you behind the scenes.

Here’s what you need to know about price alerts, how they work, and how to set price alerts so that you can nab the best flight deals when they present themselves.

What are price alerts?

Price alerts are optional price tracking alerts that you can set up using flight search tools such as Google Flights, Kayak, Hopper, and Skyscanner. This option will then track your selected flight routes and dates of travel and will notify you via email (or push notifications if you’re using an app) when the price changes. Or if you’re flexible (say you want a cheap flight during spring break but are less concerned about where you go), some websites will keep an eye on various destinations for you and will send you good deals at random or for multiple designated locations.

How to set up price alerts on Google Flights

Google Flights is one of the most popular flight search tools for a reason. It allows travelers to see numerous flight and airfare options from numerous airlines, and you can also filter based on how many stops you’re willing to make, what airline(s) you’d like to fly, and whether bags are included. You can also search multiple departing and arriving airports in the region and can even compare flights’ carbon emissions. In short, there are numerous search filters to ensure that you are looking for and ultimately booking the flights that best suit your needs.

To track flights, enter your departure and arrival cities as you normally would, as well as the dates you’d like to fly. Also enter in any of those preferred filters we mentioned above. After you hit search, you’ll notice a “track prices” toolbar will appear on the left side of the screen below the information you input (and above the list of departing flights) with the options to track prices for the specific dates you chose or for any dates. Clicking either of these will sign you up to receive email updates on price changes for that flight.

It’s worth noting that Google Flights doesn’t catch all the deals—it doesn’t capture any price information from Southwest Airlines, for example (that’s because Southwest prevents third-party websites from showing its fares). You also don’t purchase the tickets directly through Google Flights—the website sends users to the airline’s website or to another third-party site that sells flights.

How to set up price alerts on Hopper

Hopper, a flight price search and booking tool, not only notifies you when a price drops but also lets you know if it predicts that fares could rise.

To set an alert, you’ll have to go to Hopper’s website or download the app. On either platform, you’ll need to select “Flights” and fill out where and when you’d like to go. The next page will show the current flight prices and Hopper’s prediction about whether you should buy now or wait for a better price. If it’s the latter, there will be a “Watch This Trip” button in the middle of the page—it’ll allow you to opt into email updates or push notifications for the flight or flights you’re tracking.

How to set up price alerts on Kayak

Kayak does a great job of aggregating a list of the cheapest flights, hotels, and rental cars on a given date or range of dates. For flights specifically, it can also track prices to help you get the best deal.

You’ll first need to create an account with Kayak to get the alerts. Then, after you search for your destination and add the dates, you’ll be able to click “track prices” on the page that lists all the flight options. The tracking button is in the upper left corner, and above it, you’ll find Kayak’s advice on whether you should buy now or wait (based on its projections of whether the fares will drop in the next seven days).

Regardless of whether the price changes, Kayak will send you daily notifications about the ticket price unless you alter the notifications in the settings section of your personal profile (in the top right corner of the web page). It’s also possible to keep tabs on your alerts by going to your “watchlist,” also located on your profile page.

What’s particularly nifty about Kayak is that it’s the only one that allows you to set flexible price alerts. So say you want to fly from Los Angeles, California, to Bali, Indonesia, but don’t care when, you can select “flexible dates” and then further choose “anytime” to receive alerts when the price drops below average.

How to set up price alerts on Skyscanner

Skyscanner, a website that pulls prices for flights, hotels, and car rentals from across the internet, operates similarly to Google Flights. After you’ve added your dates and preferred route (you can also click “Add nearby airports” to get results for other area airports), you’ll be taken to the results page. There you will find a “get price alerts” button near the top left side of the screen. You’ll have to create an account with Skyscanner to opt into the price alert emails. Typically, if your flight is within 100 days, Skyscanner will email you a daily update. If it’s further out, notifications will come once a week.

While Skyscanner has an option to search for flights “everywhere” (meaning it will search for the lowest-priced tickets to every country during that time frame), that functionality doesn’t work with price alerts. If you’d like to keep an eye on multiple destinations, you’ll have to set alerts for all of them. Luckily, Skyscanner will bundle your searches into one email, making it easier to compare prices (and it will save your inbox from being overloaded).

Sign up for flight deal alerts on isn’t technically like setting a price alert for one flight or destination; it’s a newsletter service that sends domestic and international flight deals to your inbox. But it’s a good way to save money on travel if you’re open to exploring a new destination based on a great flight deal.

In each email, the team include information about what deals they have unearthed and how you can score the cheaper rate (they also share how much those flights typically cost). has three versions of its service:

  • A free version, called Limited, where you’ll get a selection of international economy-class deals for up to five airports of your choosing, delivered each month.
  • A Premium version, which costs $49 per year and includes international and domestic economy-class deals from up to 10 airports. It also provides mistake fares (when an incorrect, lower fare is accidentally listed on an airline website) from your home airport, as well as weekend getaway deals.
  • And an Elite version, which regularly costs $199 per year and includes the same perks as Premium and deals for first-, business-, and premium economy–class tickets from an unlimited number of U.S. airports

This story was originally published in November 2022, and was most recently updated on November 10, 2023, to include current information.

Bailey Berg is a freelance travel writer and editor, who covers breaking news, trends, tips, transportation, sustainability, the outdoors, and more. She was formerly the associate travel news editor at AFAR. Her work can also be found in the New York Times, the Washington Post, National Geographic, Condé Nast Traveler, Travel + Leisure, the Points Guy, Atlas Obscura, Vice, Thrillist, Men’s Journal, Architectural Digest, Forbes, Lonely Planet, and beyond.
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