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Google can now notify you of the best times to buy cheap flights

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David Cornish
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Everyone has their own trick for getting cheap holiday flights, right?

Holiday Pirates. Teletext Holidays (yep, still a thing). Cashing in their dad's old air miles. Turning up at an airport and buying the cheapest flight to anywhere south of Dover.

Chances are you've not been using Google Flights - one of the many specialist services hiding within the family of Google Search, built with aim of making the arduous process of finding the right flight a great deal less vomit inducing.

A new update for the service has just rolled out that can help you save a bundle on booking flights by determining when a flight's price is expected to rise. 

You can access Google Flights either on your computer, or via the Google Search app (available for both iOS and Android). You punch in a search for "Flights to Madrid from London" and the search service pulls in a whole heap of data from a group of airlines.

When you select a specific flight, a notification may appear letting you know when the current fare is expected to expire and how much you can save if you book now. The best perk? The update to the service, rolled out from 17 October, will also allow you to 'track' your flight or route, spending out notifications via email to let you know when prices are expected to change. 

The service works by comparing your flight request with a long history of previous flight prices: it's guess work, but very, very clever guess work. If that flight has a habit of seeing prices increase at a certain point before departure, the service will flag this and give you a nudge to buy sooner rather than later. Conversely, if prices tend not to skyrocket, you'll be safe in the knowledge you don't have to rush to book.

The app will also pull in tips if you haven't selected a specific flight, showing how to find the best price for the route. Tips can include things like recommendations for alternate airports or dates. You may also see a new tip telling you about an expected price jump based on historic prices for that route. 

So next time you're looking to find the best flight to [insert somewhere warmer than your current location], keep Google Flight in mind - along with Skyscanner, Kayak, Hopper and the likes. You're welcome. 

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David Cornish

Shortlist.com’s esteemed Tech Editor. David has a keen interest in video games, Star Wars and stuff that runs on batteries.

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