Google Flight Search is taking off to international destinations. Starting today users can search for flights to 500 airports outside the US. Google hasn’t provided a comprehensive list of destinations, but most European and Asian cities I searched for were available.
It’s not clear how well flight search is doing or whether people are using it instead of some of the established travel sites and search engines. Right now the PC version of Flight Search is more challenging to use than some of its rivals — Kayak for example. The mobile and iPad versions of Google Flight Search are simpler and less cluttered.
Ultimately the success or failure of Google Flight Search will depend on a few variables: its UI and features and how aggressively Google promotes flight search results in general search.
A query for “flight search” shows Google Flight Search at the top of the organic rankings. (That’s probably not a query most people would do however.) A search for “SFO to LHR” doesn’t deliver obvious flight search information. The “blue airplane” icon doesn’t take you into Google Flight Search results currently.
Google is no doubt being cautious about how aggressively it tries to promote flight search. One reason is the beta nature of the product, which is improving over time. The other reason is that the collection of travel and travel-search companies that opposed the ITA acquisition, making all this possible, would be quick to call out Google for trying to promote its own product over theirs.
Google Flight Search (and related Hotel Finder) has the potential to be really useful for consumers. But neither product has reached the necessarily level of polish yet.
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- For Travel Planning, Search Engines May Not Be Your Best Destination