Cool Tool Alert: Google Flights Reaches Cruising Altitude

googleflights

So what do you get when you take one of the most powerful search engines in the world, factor in its acquisition of ITA Software, a company that provides real-time information about flights–and also a merger that raised talk of potential antitrust allegations–and millions of users eager to get the best deal in the shortest time possible? Google Flights.

It’s interesting to say the least. Backed by its flight schedule technology, Google Flights seems like an evolutionary mash-up of Google’s Instant Search Feature and Google Maps. And while the system is not without its bugs currently–rates are not available for flights from the U.S. to international destinations and The New York Times reported that its flight search results are far from comprehensive–its suite of extra tools are impressive. Tools include a slider that allows you to filter by flight price and duration, and even recommendations for alternate destinations should a flight to your preferred destination be unavailable in your selected timeframe.

But what really sets Google Flights apart from Expedia, Kayak.com, and any number of competitors is its native audience. Thanks to products like Gmail, Blogger, its aggregated news channels, and so on, Google has a big advantage over competitors in that they could incorporate this new application into any of their other products. In fact, we’re already seeing this integration, as Greg Sterling from Search Engine Land points out. For example, a query of “flights from nyc to dc” generates the following result:

This might cause many SEOs to sit up and take note–as all their hard work results in listings that are now secondary to the output of Google Flights. By integrating Google Flights into its users’ extant internet habits (email and search alike), the internet titan stands to take over a lot of the market share in this particular niche from competitors like Kayak.com and Expedia, who, in addition to hosting external portals, lack the instantaneous results that Google Flights has, often subjecting users to intermediary loading pages.

This is also a sentiment echoed by Lifehacker’s Adam Pash, who writes, “It’s impressively intuitive, extremely fast, and though I hate to say it, I can see Google’s new flight search becoming a lot of people’s first destination for finding airline tickets online.”

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