Google’s New Airfare-Finder

By Alan Farnham

Sep 15, 2011 12:00am

 

Google is adding to its user toolbox a new feature called Flight Search, designed to speed airfare searches. A Google spokesman explains it’s still a work in progress.

In its current form, Flight Search provides flights between only a limited number of cities (all domestic U.S.) flown by a limited number of carriers, including JetBlue, Delta, American and Continental. “If you want to go to London,” says the spokesman, “for the time being, it’s not going to satisy your needs.” Google is deliberately vague about when the feature will be available in a more comprehensive form.

Flight Search is intended to be an easier and more friendly version of an earlier Google tool that required users to type in the names of their origin and destination cities. It represents the company’s latest progress since July, when Google paid $700 million to acquire software company ITA, which supplies pricing systems used by major airlines.

Google says it’s proudest of Flight Search’s speed. Ease-of-use features include a movable date selector that can be dragged forward or backward, allowing a traveler to see quickly which dates are cheapest for travel between a given city-pair.

“I’ll use this,” says frequent flier Mary Crane, who kicked the tires of Google’s new product. Crane, owner of Mary Crane & Associates, travels the U.S. non-stop as a public speaker, corporate performance coach and expert on business manners.

“The big advantage,” she says, “is that you can call up all flights for a region. With one click I can look at all flights from NYC, say, to Dallas-Fort Worth.” One page pops up that shows everything departing from Laguardia, JFK and Newark. “When I use Expedia,” says Crane, “I have to do a separate search for each of the three airports.”

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