Google Flights has been my go to website for finding low airfare deals out of an expensive airport like MRY, Monterey, California. This post shows how I search for low flights from Monterey. You can apply this search strategy to any airport worldwide. This article focuses on using Google Flights maps to find low-cost flights within North America showing examples for Texas and Florida. Transoceanic international flights generally require round-trip travel for lowest airfares and a different search strategy is necessary than the one presented in this post.
Google Flights Map of One-Way Air Fare from MRY on Monday, May 5.
- Houston $189
- San Jose del Cabo $198
- Minneapolis $201
Monterey Airport is 110 miles south of San Francisco Airport SFO and 75 miles south of San Jose Airport SJC. Fares are generally lower from those airports, however, there is the cost of gas and parking to drive to those airports.
Here is the Google flight map from San Jose for the same date.
Google Flights Map for San Jose SJC on Monday, May 5.
- San Jose del Cabo $187
- Houston $189
- Minneapolis $208
These airfares are nearly identical to Monterey. The real savings is the difference in airfare for west coast travel when flying SJC-LAX $69 compared to $147 from MRY or SJC-SEA $90 compared to MRY-SEA $185. These fare differences make it worth the time and expense to drive 75 miles to San Jose and park at SJC for $8 per day. There are also good savings from San Jose SJC for big cities like Chicago $166 vs. $240 from MRY or New York at $139 SJC compared to $246 from MRY.
Zoom in for airfare deals.
The trick to finding the real airfare deals is to zoom in on the USA map and search airfare to more airports.
Monterey – Houston is $189. What else is there in Texas?
Deep in the Heart of Texas
Google Flights map MRY-Texas for Monday, May 5.
- Dallas $182
- Houston $189
- San Antonio $202
- Lubbock $214
- Austin $237
Assume I want to sightsee in Texas and Houston is not the primary destination and Monday, May 5 is not the exact date I have to fly.
Changing dates in Google Flights quickly allows airfare comparisons for different days across a region rather than the more time-consuming task of checking different airport pairs looking for lower rates.
Shift the date search by one day to Tuesday, May 6 for MRY flights to Texas airports.
Google Flights map for MRY-Texas Tuesday, May 6.
- Austin $120 ($237 May 5)
- Dallas $182 (same May 5)
- Houston $189 (same May 5)
- San Antonio $202 (same May 5)
- Lubbock $210 ($214 May 5)
Monterey to Austin drops by almost 50% by flying one-day later.
Fly where the airfare is cheap.
Flying Monterey to Houston for $378 is not much of a deal. Flying from Monterey to Austin, TX for $240 round-trip is a good deal for a short trip out of town.
Since domestic round trip flights are generally 2x the one-way fare for travel, simply finding a low one-way fare makes finding low airfare deals an easier task. Once a low one-way fare is located, then search round-trip for the same low rate on the return. This is simply a matter of shifting through different dates.
Google Flights MRY-AUS, Monterey, California to Austin, Texas $240 round-trip. I changed Google Flights to Round trip search and quickly flipped through dates until the same $120 return fare came up four days later. That is a good length of time for a short vacation trip at a low fare. San Francisco is suggested as a lower airfare alternative, but $30 for gas to drive 220 miles round-trip to SFO and $40 for parking makes the convenience of Monterey a better deal.
Focusing on Florida
I have not yet made a May trip to Florida firm, but I am thinking this is the best travel deal for me at the moment. I wrote a piece this week about $15 per day one-way car rentals in May out of Florida airports to places north. Driving around the back roads of Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina sounds like a Ric’s road trip adventure. Drive North! $15 to $20 per day one-way car rentals from Florida (April 16, 2014).
Google Flights USA map from Monterey MRY did not show any Florida airfares in the big picture.
Zoom in on Florida.
Google Flights map Monterey-Florida airports Tuesday, May 6.
- Monterey to Fort Myers $177 (SFO $172)
- Orlando $182 (SFO $176)
- West Palm Beach $193 (SFO $181)
- Gainesville $204 (SFO $204)
- Jacksonville $214 (SFO $209)
- Key West $214 (SFO $213)
- Pensacola $214 (SFO $209)
- Miami $248 (SFO $140)
Checking SJC and SFO shows near similar airfares to Florida with the exception of SFO-Miami at $140. If Miami is my desired destination, then a trip to San Francisco is a money saver. If Fort Myers, Gainesville, Jacksonville, Key West or Orlando are my destination, then flying out of Monterey is a better deal.
The $140 airfare from SFO-Miami is the deal I initially saw that got me looking into Florida as a May vacation destination in the first place. Since I spent a week in Miami 15 months ago, I was looking at the cost of rental cars to see other parts of Florida and discovered any size rental car is available from nearly any major rental car agency for $19 per day for one-way rentals out of Miami heading north.
The rental car deal got me looking at a one-week trip flying to Florida, pick up a rental car and drive through the southern states I have not seen since I was a teenager in the late 70s. Drop off the car at another airport with cheap one-way airfare back to Monterey.
Finding cheap airfare back to Monterey
Getting back to Monterey on a low one-way airfare is simply a matter of using Google Flights and locating airports with low airfare and checking return dates. I used the same departure map for Tuesday, May 6 out of Monterey to find low airfare airports, then flipped through a few dates checking for low airfare for the return flight to Monterey around my 7-day itinerary plan.
Google Flights map MRY to Carolina and Virginia shows low airfares to a few airports.
- Raleigh, NC $176
- Charlotte, NC $185
- Norfolk, VA $185
Norfolk looks like a good airfare deal that would allow me to drive from Florida through the Outer Banks of North Carolina.
Nest step is to see what dates that Norfolk $185 airfare are available for the return flight to Monterey.
Norfolk ORF – Monterey MRY $185 Tuesday, May 13.
Turns out the only two dates with the $185 airfare are Saturday, May 10 and Tuesday, May 13. Tuesday, May 13 gives a 7-day itinerary from Tuesday, May 6 Monterey to Jacksonville MRY-JAX flight.
In summary, this is how I use Google Flights to find an airfare deal from the airport four miles from my home rather than driving to San Jose or San Francisco for low airfare deals.
$400 round-trip airfare is not exactly an airfare bargain, but combined with a low rental car rate from Florida at $15 per day and the opportunity to tour coastal Georgia and the Carolinas for one week makes a decent vacation deal at $500 total for airfare and rental car.
Hotels can be covered with my hotel points or if there are good hotel loyalty promotions, pay for hotels. Amazingly, only Starwood has announced a May promotion for 2x points while Hilton, Hyatt, IHG and Marriott promotions end April 30 and no new deals have been posted.
Chain hotel loyalty will hopefully keep me out of some swampland Bates motel. Paying for 30 to 40 gallons of gas with the freedom to move at will across the southeast with a rental car is a country backroads opportunity to put a bit of gravel in my travel.
Google Flights maps helped me create this travel plan.
Google Flights is a good travel planning tool for finding airfare deals from any airport.