Google Predicts Flight Ticket Price Hikes

John Lister's picture

Google is to start warning users when flight ticket prices are likely to rise. It adds forecasts to a current system that works with actual price changes.

The feature is coming to Google Flights, a dedicated search tool which lets users look for flight prices. While several travel sites offer similar tools, Google argues that its is easier to use.

It's no secret that ticket prices change over time. While there's an element of last-minute drops as airlines try to avoid empty seats, there's also a broader trend of prices increasing as the weeks count down to a flight, the theory being that people who book on shorter notice will be more desperate to fly on a particular day and to a particular destination and thus will pay more.

Google already offers a notification tool that lets users sign up for a particular route and get details emailed to them when an airline updates its database to increase the price, along with information about whether an alternative route or destination has now become a cheaper option.

Historical Data Powers Predictions

The change is that users will now get warnings of when prices are expected to rise. That's based on historical data about when airlines actually put prices up.

The information will come in two ways. Firstly, when a user looks at a flight, they'll see an alert with information such as "$87 fare increase likely in 8h." Clicking or tapping on the alert will give information such as how often such routes have had a price hike in the past at a particular period before the flight date. (Source:

Not All Airlines Covered

Secondly, the email notifications will now include a warning of an imminent price rise rather than only telling the user once the cost has actually gone up. (Source:

There are some limitations to the Google approach. It doesn't cover all airlines as some, such as Southwestern, don't make their flight booking data available to third parties. And unlike some flight booking sites, it doesn't always cope well with situations where the cheapest option would be to break the journey up with a layover and book two completely different round trips with a different airline.

What's Your Opinion?

Have you ever used a flight comparison site? Would you find it useful to get predictions of upcoming price rises? Is there a risk users might feel pressured to book early for fear of a hike that might not happen?

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Dennis Faas's picture

This sounds like a useful service - however, I'm wondering if Google is also receiving commissions for sales as a result of people wanting to book their flights due to an impending price increase. That is certainly incentive for making an impulse buy / last minute purchase.