Travel Web sites beware: Google is muscling in on your territory. The technology giant announced an update to its Google Flights service that lets users search for flights by price and date. The new Google service is expected to compete with the likes of Orbitz, Expedia (which recently acquired Travelocity) and Kayak, bringing the Internet behemoth into yet another marketplace.
The new Google Flights site includes suggestions on how users can find cheaper deals and allows them to compare prices across several months. That should help make the service particularly attractive to travelers with flexible travel dates.
Take Me Anywhere
But Google is not just being flexible with users' travel dates. In addition to giving users the ability to search for flights as they do on other sites, Google Flights also gives them the flexibility to search for flights to entire countries or regions.
"Sometimes, you know exactly where your destination needs to be -- say, when you're taking a business trip, or headed to a wedding or family reunion," said Eric Zimmerman, product manager for Google Flights, writing in a blog post announcing the update.
"But there are times when all you know is that you want to go somewhere. Maybe you want to go somewhere with a beach, but don't care if it's in Greece or the Caribbean. Or you want to visit Southeast Asia, but aren't sure which countries to visit."
According to the company, 54 percent of people do not decide on where they are going to travel before they sit down to plan their trip. Since Google introduced the ability to search for flights by region or country in July 2013, the volume of such searches has doubled. And just like the search engine itself, adventurous travelers will have the ability to click on an "I'm Feeling Lucky" button that will suggest ideas for where to go based on popular destinations and the users' past search history.
More Tools for Bargain Hunters
The site redesign also makes it easy for travelers to shop around on price, by showing the cheapest price to fly on each day on the calendar. For users hoping to plan their trips even further out, Google Flights provides a chart that shows how prices fluctuate based on the seasons, holidays, or other events.
Another advantage to Google Flights for cost-conscious fliers is the site's travel recommendations. The service will advise users as to when they can save money on a trip by booking a flight to a nearby airport, or by flying on a different day.
One of the most interesting new features Google introduced to the service is "Best Flights." These are flights the site has identified as being particularly good combinations of price and convenience. The company said 40 percent of users eventually choose a flight that is not the cheapest option, and said that 85 percent choose one of the Best Flight options when they are presented with the results.
Posted: 2015-02-27 @ 11:56am PT
Just tried it and I loved it! The only thing that was missing for my multi-city international flight was a form to enter the credit card and book it. Google Flights provided me with a phone number to call the airline, though. Actually two phone numbers, and two prices, one for each of the codeshare airlines!