The Expeditioner Review: Google Debuts Google Flight Search

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Google unveiled Google Flight Search today, their own flight search engine that is the product of their 2010 acquisition of ITA Software — the company that powers most of the big travel search engines.

This being Google and all, rest assured that no one is going to allege the site was designed by graphic designers; engineers were truly in charge here. Featuring an exiting color motif of white, sort-of white, and red, the site certainly looks akin to their other services like GMail and Google Docs, but makes up for the bland design with blazing speed.

With regards to speed, as the NY Times points out in their head-to-head comparison between it and Kayak, Google Flight Search loads about 8 seconds faster than Kayak, a world of difference for budget travelers who sift through countless iterations of dates and times in search of the best deals.

On the topic of comparison shopping, a really nice touch that would tip me in favor of choosing this search engine over others is the price comparison feature. The bar chart/dot matrix display (see above) allows you to visualize when the best-priced tickets are for a particular trip length.

For example, if you’re looking at doing a 7-day trip, simply plug in an arbitrary seven-day trip on the calendar, and Google lets you know the price you’d pay if you pushed back your trip for every day beyond your planned departure date until six month from today. This option alone showed me many flights that were $100 cheaper from New York to Vegas.

Of note, Google Flight Search is limited right now. There are no international flights yet, and results are limited to just certain airlines (no travel services yet), but all signs point to this search engine growing into a true player in the travel booking world.

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