Google launches new flight search tool
Google unveiled a flight search engine yesterday, making it a direct rival to existing travel booking sites.
Now, people searching for flight information (for instance, flights from San Francisco to New York) on Google will see a "Flights" link in the left-hand panel. The link leads to the new flight search page. That page can also be accessed directly at google.com/flights.
Once on the search results page, users will see a page of flight options from different carriers, along with prices, flight times and return flight information.
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Taking flight search on a step
Despite a goof that led to searches for New York listing flights to the World Trade Center as "unavailable," the tool does include some extra functions not seen before.
One of Google’s innovations allows the economizing traveler to instantly see which travel dates are the least expensive by dragging the date selector forward or backward. Users can also refer to an automatically generated bar chart to compare lots of dates at once.
Those who aren’t sure of where they want to go can search for their departure city and surf around for destinations and prices that are automatically listed on a map.
Click here for a video tutorial on how to work the new search engine.
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Google flight search restricted to United States
The flight search engine is only applicable to a limited number of cities in the United States for the time being, and only displays results for round-trip economy-class flights.
Google says they are working on new cities and options.
“The selection of flight results is not influenced by any paid relationships,” the company stated in a blog post. “Airlines control how their flights are marketed, so as with other flight search providers, our booking links point to airline websites only.”
The new search feature came just months after Google acquired ticketing software company ITA for US$700 million in cash.
ITA’s airline data organizing software is used by major travel websites TripAdvisor, Kayak, Orbitz and Expedia.
When Google first announced the takeover in 2010, travel booking websites cried foul, prompting a review by the Department of Justice’s anti-trust division.
Google was eventually given the go-ahead, but with caveats, such as allowing existing ITA clients to extend their contracts into 2016 and building a firewall that prevents itself from accessing its competitors' software.
Since then, Google had progressively introduced new flight search functions, including a flight information search that does not list air fares.