Google on Tuesday launched a new flight search tool that integrates with Google search and will challenge Bing Travel and ticket-finding sites like Kayak and Orbitz.
The new flight search tool is powered by ITA Software, which Google finished acquiring in April. When Google announced its intention to purchase ITA in July 2010, it said it wanted to “create a new, easier way for users to find better flight information online.” Since that time, travel sites and Bing’s search engine have improved to offer new features. But of course, Google has the advantage of being the number one search engine and one of the most used sites on the Web.
Google said that, starting today, people searching for flight information on Google will now have a “Flights” tab that appears on the left-hand side of the screen. At present, I couldn’t get the Flights tab to come up in general searches, but google.com/flights works just fine.
Google boasted that, with help from ITA’s software, its flight results are fast, easy to scan and sort, and helpful at parsing possible destinations and prices.
“Flights are chosen primarily based on cost and total travel time, while covering a variety of departure times and airlines,” Kourosh Gharachorloo, Engineering Director, writes on Google’s Inside Search Blog. “We automatically set the filters to focus on options which are reasonable in both price and duration, and you can always adjust the filters to show even more flights.”
The new feature could easily inflict damage on Bing Travel, one of the best features that Microsoft’s No. 2 search engine has to offer. Bing Travel is still superior thanks a price predictor that tells you if you should buy flight tickets now or later and a strong hotel search. Other full-featured travel sites such as Kayak, Orbitz, Priceline and Expedia may also see traffic declines.
What do you think of Google’s new flight search? Will you use it over Kayak, Bing Travel or other travel sites?