Google Flight Search recently launched in five new countries -- Britain, France,
Italy, Spain and the Netherlands -- as Google slowly fills in the holes in its
airline-ticket search product.
The introduction means travelers in the U.S. can search for flights from London to Beijing or Amsterdam to Rome, for example. But users still can't use Google Flight Search to look for flights from Berlin to Chicago or from any countries of origin that still aren't supported.
Plenty of European carriers -- such as Air France, British Airways, KLM and Alitalia -- have been added to flight choices, although discount carrier EasyJet is absent in Europe. You also wouldn't be able to book any Ryanair flights in Europe using Google Flight Search, just as you can't purchase any Southwest flights in the U.S. Both airlines generally don't make their flights available to third-party travel-search companies.
Google Flight Search, launched in September 2011, has a menu of impressive features, but can be more confusing than Kayak or Hipmunk.
Google Flight Search, with Google's computing power at its disposal, is incredibly fast in spewing out flight-search results. Once you've selected your airport of origin, your destination and travel dates, you don't even have to click "find flights" or wait for search results to load. Google's flight options appear almost instantaneously.
Hipmunk is renowned for taking the agony out of flight search and information overload by optionally only showing the most relevant flights and depicting them graphically on a single page.
Google Flight Search isn't as pretty, but it also can show on one page about two dozen suggested flights, depending on the route, based on convenience and price. You also can choose to "show all," including "longer or more expensive flights."
If your travel dates are flexible, you can click on a lowest-fares icon to show the best dates to get the lowest fares over almost any time frame.
It has a maps feature that's great for finding bargains -- if you're flexible about where you want to fly. It provides information about fares to alternate airports. If you indicate you want to fly from Boston to San Francisco, for example, the map depicts fares not only to San Francisco-area airports, but to cities such as Chicago, Denver and Houston.
You'll find plenty of ways to fine-tune searches, such as by round-trip, one-way or multicity itineraries. If your flights include stops, you can search by connecting airport. Results can be sorted by departure time, duration, arrival time, airline, number of stops and total price. It's also easy to pick out the flights with Wi-Fi.
As with most other travel meta-search sites, Google Flight Search doesn't book flights. It transfers you to the airline website, and sometimes, optionally, to Orbitz or Priceline.
Determining airfare through Google Flight Search can sometimes be confusing. When you search for round trips on Kayak or Hipmunk, for example, you usually see the outbound and inbound flights paired, with the total airfare displayed.
With Google Flight Search, the round-trip components aren't pre-set. You may view outbound flights with a total price "from $234," and be presented with an array of return flights from many airlines to choose from. Your return flight can ratchet up the fare. It's more choice and more confusion.
Google Flight Search is admittedly incomplete. In a blog post, Google states: "Sometimes, we are not able to show results for every single airline, and we will make that clear. We are working to expand our relationship with other airlines, and bring Flight Search to more countries and in more languages."
Unlike Kayak, Hipmunk and other travel meta-search players, there's no way to book a hotel via Google Flight Search. You'll have to go to the separate Google Hotel Finder to do that.
Most Popular Stories
- Chobani Counters Competition With Expanded Lineup
- Reid: Bundy Backers Are 'Domestic Terrorists'
- Ex-BP Employee Settles Insider Trading Charges
- Venture Investments in U.S. Highest Since 2001
- Colo. Cleantech Program Calls for Entrepreneurs
- Unemployment Rates Down, Job Gains Up in March
- Hiring Fair for Veterans, Job Seekers
- VW Beetle Marks 65th Year in U.S.
- 8 Million Signups Put Obamacare Ahead of Predictions
- The Biebs Crashes Drake's Release Party