INTERNET SEARCH AND ADVERTISING FIRM Google has finally landed Flight Service, its airline flight comparison service, in Europe.
The service is a bit limited. A blog post from Noam Ben Haim, senior product manager for travel at Google, said that it is only available, or applicable, for people in the UK, France, Italy, Spain or the Netherlands. If that is you, then the world is your oyster, or at least almost.
"Starting today, you can use Flight Search to quickly find, compare and book flights originating from each of these countries to any airport in the world. You'll also be able to search for flights from airports in these countries and see prices in your local currency," said Haim.
"Additionally, you can conduct searches in [eight] languages: English, French, Italian, Spanish, Basque, Catalan, Galician and Dutch -- and see prices in your local currency."
Haim called this "smarter travel planning", and said that Flight Search will let users quickly compare live prices for tickets and check for the lowest fare icon "to see which dates will get you the lowest fare".
However, there are some big names missing, and they happen to be some of the more budget airlines, something that could harm the appeal of Google Flight Search. Haim said that these are coming.
"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," he said.
We checked prices for a flight to Paris this week. Although search returned a lot of options, prices for Easyjet, one obvious low cost airline, are not available. A disclaimer on the UK flight search page explains, "Some airlines are not available on Google". These being Ryanair, Lufthansa, Easyjet, Thomas Cook, and Aer Lingus.
Ryanair told The INQUIRER that it has a policy that it invokes when price comparison websites come knocking, and that is that the firms make a donation to charity before being allowed in.
"In the interests of consumers and price transparency Ryanair allows and encourages 'price comparison only' websites to access its timetable and pricing information, for an annual charitable donation of just €100," said a spokesperson.
"This allows them to compare Ryanair's guaranteed lowest fares with those of high fare airlines. Ryanair's licence agreement is open to all genuine 'price comparison only' websites and already many have signed up.
Still if you don't care about what these firms are charging, and are looking for an alternative flight price checker then perhaps, Google's Flight Service is for you.
Haim said that it will let you find flights quickly, work out what times are cheapest to fly, and discover your location on Google Maps. Other benefits include the ability to see what flights are WiFi enabled. µ