Airfares change constantly—sometimes multiple times a day. With this in mind, it can be difficult for travelers to know when is a suitable time to buy the flight they want and feel like they’re actually getting a good deal. That is, until now, thanks to Google.
Earlier this month, the Silicon Valley juggernaut rolled out a new tool that leverages previous flight data to predict when airfare prices will change so travelers stand a better chance of getting a better deal.
The tool, formally dubbed Google Flights, incorporates this predictive information about fare changes and also notifies you about price changes for flights in which you have expressed interest at an earlier time. According to a variety of news articles published this week, the changes are rolling out to the Google Flights website in the next few weeks.
A Google Flights app is in the works, too.
To help serve as a guide, an internal blog post from Google Flights product manager Nabil Naghdy indicated that in cases where a traveler doesn’t have a specific flight in mind, the Google Flights service also will provide “tips” to serve people interested in practical information. The tips can include suggestions on alternate airports or different dates; they also might include information about an expected price jump based on historic flight information for the particular route.
And it looks like Google won’t stop there. An article on Mashable suggested that once changes to Google Flights wrap up in the next few weeks, the company will shift gears and focus on hotels—updating its hotel search with a “Deals” tab that shows a number of different discounted rates.
Overall, these developments are exciting for average travelers like most of us.
The predictive capabilities of Google Flights can benefit everybody—consumers who want to book before the price goes up, and airlines that benefit from consumers feeling they have a limited window in which to buy. What’s more, the tip process itself is likely to be welcome among travelers who like to shop around and look for deals.
Matt Villano is a freelance writer and editor based in Healdsburg, California. In nearly 20 years as a full-time freelancer, he has covered travel for publications including TIME, the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, Sunset, Backpacker, Entrepreneur, and more. He contributes to the Expedia Viewfinder blog and writes a monthly food column for Islands magazine. Villano also serves on the board of the Family Travel Association and blogs about family travel at Wandering Pod. Learn more about him at Whalehead.com.