Web

Your newest travel agent: Google Flights lets you know when airfare will spike

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Navigating the nuances of airfare can be a nauseating proposition, especially when you’re flying to or from an unfamiliar place. There are an abundance of tools to help you along the way, but those tools can be a challenge to juggle. Aggregators and search engines like Expedia, Hipmunk, Kayak, Skiplagged, and others make it easy to compare fares with their platforms, but not to others. Thankfully, some services are a little more platform agnostic in their approach. And one, Google Flights, is gaining an incredibly useful feature in the coming days: airfare notifications.

You can think of the updated Google Flights as a soothsaying travel agent: it will shoot you a notification via email when it expects airfare to rise or fall significantly. Furthermore, it will keep track of as many flights or routes as you wish and let you know both when the current fare is expected to expire and how much you can save if you book now. For flights you are browsing but have not marked as a favorite, Google will show tips in lieu of alerts: you might get list of alternate, cheaper airports or dates, or a list of dates you are most likely to see a price jump. And you can manage it all from a smartphone.

Google did not stop with Flights. In keeping with the travel theme, the Mountain View, California-based giant rolled out improvements to hotel search. You can be notified when savings are available to loyalty members and soon, when you are researching rates in specific locations — e.g., “hotels in Paris” — you will be able sort listings by a new filter called Deals. It will prioritize hotels with discounts, or ones which have a price lower than usual compared to historical pricing.

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The update launched on the web on Monday, Google said.

Google has beefed up its itinerary-planning products in recent months. In September, it rolled out Trips, a new app for Android and iOS that collates flight information, surfaces nearby attractions, and provides an offline map of surroundings. In July, the search giant introduced enhanced hotel reservation and flight booking features to its mobile search interface.

Google cited a study that 69 percent of U.S. vacationers worry about finding the best price or making the best booking decisions — more than the number of respondents who worry about financial investments, home improvements or electronics purchases. In some small way, perhaps the new and improved Google Flights will help put those restless minds at ease.

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