Last year, Google announced that it was offering $700 million to buy search software firm ITA Software, which provided airline flight information used by Google's search competitors. Later, there were talks of Google buying ITA for $1 billion.
A little over five months ago, Google acquired ITA Software and is now offering a new Flights Search feature.
Google launched its Flights Search feature today, which offers additional flight information when searching the topic on Google. Flight schedules have actually been available on Google since May. However, with the Flights Search feature, users can receive faster results, a simple list of the most relevant flights, other possible destinations according to their search criteria, and more.
For instance, if a user searches "flights from Chicago to Denver" on Google, the "Flights" link will be available in the left-hand panel. Clicking on the "Flights" link will quickly set the filters to focus on the user's search criteria and offer airlines, costs, travel times, etc. These filters can also be adjusted to show more flights.
In addition, customers can type in vague flight searches such as where they can go from San Francisco in a three-hour period for less than $300, and Google Flights will lay out a list of options.
Google mentioned that it's looking for new partners in the travel industry to broaden this feature, but current paid relationships do not influence flight results.
“The selection of flight results is not influenced by any paid relationships,” said the Official Google Search Blog. “Airlines control how their flights are marketed, so as with other flight search providers, our booking links point to airline websites only. We're working to create additional opportunities for our other partners in the travel industry to participate as well.”
The feature isn't completely finished yet, as it only includes a limited number of U.S. cities as well as show results for round-trip economy-class flights only. But Google plans to continue working on it. For now, the "Flights" link will become available "as is" throughout the course of today.