Flight Tracking, Airport Conditions, Real-Time Traffic, & Other Thanksgiving Search Tips

Thanksgiving On Ask

With the US about to celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday tomorrow, how are the major search engines gearing up to support an onslaught of Thanksgiving queries? Let’s take a look at how you can use them, ranging from flight tracking tools to special "shortcut" or "smart answer" boxes leading to related information.

Many people travel by air on Thanksgiving. Want to know if friends or family are going to make it on time? Several of the major search engines prominently list flight tracking information, as well as airport conditions and related information. Do the right search, and you’ll get special links at the top of the pages, like this, showing flight tracking at the top of Google:

Flight Tracking On Google

Here are traffic conditions on Yahoo:

Traffic Conditions On Yahoo

And here are airport conditions at Ask:

Airport Conditions On Ask

How to make these special links come up?

  • Google: Enter the name of an airport or a flight number to get relevant information or links at the top of the search results. Weather info is also offered. More is explained at Google help here. Some examples: aa123, ohare airport, weather los angeles.
  • Yahoo: Get information about airport conditions, flight tracking, as well as local weather and traffic reports, all at the top of your search results. See more advice covered here at Yahoo. Some examples: aa 123, weather los angeles. traffic los angeles. NOTE: A search like ohare airport is supposed to bring up special info, but I found it didn’t, so the airport conditions feature might not be working as advertised.
  • Ask: Get weather info, as explained here (and weather los angeles brings up an example). Airport conditions aren’t explained on that page or in the help files that I can find, but they do work for some, such as jfk airport, lax airport, but not ohare airport.

Want more flight tracking resources? See ResourceShelf’s recent post on dedicated flight tracking services, which are free and easy to use. Nothing is cooler than tracking the flight of friends, family, and loved ones as they progress to you.

Back on earth, remember that most of the major search engines have real-time traffic info available through their mapping services. Our Google Maps Tailgates Yahoo, Microsoft With Real-Time Traffic Info explains more about this, with illustrated examples. Mobile editions of the mapping tools from the major search engines also have real-time travel, if you have the right type of phone. Get them here: Google Mobile Maps, Yahoo Go, & Microsoft Live Search Mobile.

Thanksgiving Search Trend

That chart above? That shows you how, according to Google Trends, searches for "thanksgiving" ramp up before the actual day, then skyrocket when it happens. How have the search engines prepared for the rise in queries?

Over at Yahoo, there’s a Yahoo Shortcut telling you the exact day of Thanksgiving in the US and leading to an encyclopedia entry hosted at Yahoo about it. There’s also a link to Thanksgiving menus and recipes at Yahoo Food:

Yahoo has also blogged about their turkey recipes shortcut that appears.

Thanksgiving On Yahoo

Ask also provides the date and a recipe links, but the Ask Smart Answer it runs further includes a link to history, Thanksgiving crafts, games, and more. An screenshot of this is at the top of this article.

Some of these links really just run a new search, such as the history link bringing up a search for history of the First Thanksgiving. That’s a crafty way to get people to generate more searches on Ask, but I would have preferred if they send me directly to some selected information, rather than a new search page with yet another Smart Answer box at the top.

Ask also has a special blog post up illustrating how to search for Thanksgiving information from video sources to news reports.

As for Google and Microsoft, neither have anything special going. But over at Quintura, those that light the idea of clicking on through "clusters" or topics to get search results will find a new "Thanksgiving" tab at the top of the page. Select that, then you can click on Thanksgiving-related topics to generate results.

Now to shopping. As many know, there’s heavy post-Thanksgiving shopping happening on the day after, Black Friday, and the Monday after, Cyber Monday. Related to that, Hitwise tells us:

Searches on the term "black friday" and "black friday ads" are up 174 and 143 percent respectively, compared to last week. Combined, the percent of U.S. searches on the two terms has increased nine percent compared to 2006.


The iPod and the Nintendo Wii were the most popular search terms sending visits to Shopping and Classifieds websites for the week ending Nov. 17, 2007. The terms "ipod", "nintendo wii" and "wii" were the top three product searches. Video game consoles remain a popular product search so far this holiday season as the Nintendo Wii, Xbox 360, and Playstation 3 were all among the top 10 searches this past week.

Finally, tomorrow, expect to see some custom Thanksgiving logos hit the search engines.

Related Topics: Channel: Consumer | Search Features: General


About The Author: is a Founding Editor of Search Engine Land. He’s a widely cited authority on search engines and search marketing issues who has covered the space since 1996. Danny also serves as Chief Content Officer for Third Door Media, which publishes Search Engine Land and produces the SMX: Search Marketing Expo conference series. He has a personal blog called Daggle (and keeps his disclosures page there). He can be found on Facebook, Google + and microblogs on Twitter as @dannysullivan.

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