Google has just launched their new Flight Search feature that helps you explore air travel options to plan trips.
Google has made what amounts to a promising down payment on more ambitious travel search tools with its new Flight Search, debuting today. Launching initially for a select group of US cities Google users will have access to an expanded range of airline search options and a much more verticalized experience than has been available in the past on Google.
This is the first product to emerge from Google’s controversial acquisition of travel software company ITA, which closed in April and included concessions and guarantees to existing ITA customers such as Kayak, Microsoft, Orbitz, Hotwire and TripAdvisor. The past five months have been spent on integration of the ITA team and technology in Boston.
Once an outbound and return flight are selected — there are no one-way or multi-city capabilities right now — users are taken to an airline website to book. The content presented in Flight Search results is all organic. However, as the image below indicates, the booking link is or could be an ad. According to Google this is the only advertising in Flight Search.
Google said it’s still experimenting with the model. It’s not entirely clear what would happen if the selected airline were not an advertiser. Are only advertiser flights being included in the data presented? I assume not. However when most travel sites such as Kayak or Orbitz deliver a user to an airline or hotel site there’s lead-gen fee or bounty paid. And Google may have struck agreements with all the major carriers accordingly.
At the moment, Google Flights is limited, though useful tool, but one can only assume Google will grow the service into a unique product at some point in the future. Check out Google’s introductory video below.