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By now, you’re likely familiar with flight search engines telling you to “Buy Now” as the price is going up soon. It seemed to just be a matter of time before Google Flights would roll out a similar feature. Well, the future is now. Google Flights just added two new features: fare expiration warnings and price predictions.

Fare Expiration Warning

For those unfamiliar with how airfares work, airlines publish airfares between certain airports (or groups of airports). Each published fare has a deadline for when it can be booked. This is accomplished by either requiring a certain amount of advance purchase (i.e. 21 days prior to departure) or setting an expiration date for the fare.

Google Flights now warns you when a fare is expiring soon. Image courtesy of Google Flights.
Google Flights now warns you when a fare is expiring soon. Image courtesy of Google Flights.

These restrictions are included in the fare rules, which can be retrieved through some flight searching sites like ITA Matrix. But, only the nerdiest of us wants to dig through the fare rules when considering a flight. Google Flights is now saving us the trouble by automatically calculating the expiration and displaying a warning if the fare is scheduled to expire soon.

Price Predictions

Google Flights hasn’t formally announced these new features, so we don’t know what method the company is employing to calculate price changes. Most likely, Google has compiled untold millions of historical airfares to determine airline trends. For example, using the past few years’ worth of data, Google can compute that an airline typically increases prices by a certain amount three weeks before departure.

Before and after shows that Google Flights missed the mark on this prediction.
Before and after shows that Google Flights missed the mark on this prediction. Image courtesy of Google Flights.

However, airlines strive to keep their airfares unpredictable. After all, if everyone knew when carriers would drop airfares, airlines certainly wouldn’t be nearly as profitable. As you can see in the screenshot above, Google Flights was 95% sure that the airfare would increase when the current fare expired. However, when we checked back later, the price had dropped significantly. It seems like we were part of that lucky 5%.

Bottom Line

Google Flights continues to raise the bar for ease of flight searching. The addition of fare expiration warnings and predicted prices — although they might sometimes miss the mark — are welcome additions to a great flight search engine.

Do you use Google Flights to search for airfare?

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