Google Search Flight Schedule Implementation is Underwhelming at Best

We’ve all been waiting to see what cool stuff Google would do once it closed its recent purchase of ITA Software, and now we’ve seen our first change. How awesome is it? It’s not. At all.

Now, when you do a search for something like “LA to Chicago,” you get this:

Google Flight Search Results

That’s right. It just gives you a big, gnarly list of the nonstop flights that operate within the next week. There is no fare information and there is very little detail. It only shows the departure time, arrival time, airports, airline, flight number, and days of operation. In other words, it’s just straight schedule information and that means it’s not even using ITA Software for anything. (I should note that this doesn’t dominate the whole page – you have to click a box to expand the results.)

So, who does this help? Um, I guess someone who needs the next flight to Chicago? Google says in a blog post that this can help people plan summer vacations. Give me a break. It doesn’t give availability or pricing information at all. That makes it completely useless. It’s certainly far less useful than the previous setup which had a search box that you could use to find fares on a few different websites.

What if you really do just want flight schedules? Isn’t it somewhat helpful? Not really. I mean, it only works for travel within the next week. I tried “LA to Chicago August 10″ and nothing came up. In fact, most of the results on the first page were for restaurants while a couple were about Cubs/Dodgers games. There wasn’t a single travel-related result.

This is also only available if you type in cities with nonstop flights. I tried “LA to Birmingham” and got nothing. The first two results were for the LA Quinta Inn in BIRMINGHAM. The only air travel-related result was for FareCompare down toward the bottom.

I honestly can’t figure out why Google bothered with this. It’s usefulness is minimal at best, and it certainly doesn’t deserve a spot at the top of the results. Let’s just hope that when Google does start implementing some of what ITA can do, it’s a lot better than this.


30 Responses to Google Search Flight Schedule Implementation is Underwhelming at Best

  1. Sam says:

    Is there somewhere else where you can just as easily, or more easily, find out all the non-stop flights from your home city?

    I can fly but I have a fear of changing planes — getting stranded in an intermediate city, losing my luggage, etc. — so I hardly ever fly unless I can do it nonstop. And finding out all the nonstop routes from A to everywhere is the one thing this new Google service seems to do well.

    • Hari says:

      Well, Kayak (www.kayak.com) lets you search for only nonstop flights on all airlines (just like google only better), and pretty much every airline webiste and expedia, orbitz and others can easily filter out any flight with stops.

    • CF says:

      Actually, the best way to get raw schedule information without paying is quicktrip.com. That’s run by Innovata, one of the two big schedule providers (other being OAG). It gives you a lot more info, any date you want, and it includes connecting itineraries.

      • Jim says:

        Wikipedia gives you a list of nonstop destinations on each airline from any airport in the world.

    • Joe Jones says:

      http://www.openflights.org does the job pretty well, and even gives you a nice map.

  2. Eric says:

    But it is flipping fantastic for all the airline employees flying standby. Not only does it give every option to get between A and B, it lets you know every possibility to get to a place and, when you get stuck there, every possible way to get home. I just wish they let you add “on xxx date” to the search query, or perhaps mapped the day of week to the days of the month, with arrows to scroll forward and back.

    • CF says:

      What good does it do if you don’t know availability? Chances are if you’re flying standby and you need a tool like this, flights are packed and you really need availability info instead of running around the airport.

      • Hunter says:

        Actually, just knowing your options is really valuable when you’re NRSA. Availability is nice, but only gets you part way there anyway; you still need to know how many people are trying to non-rev and where you fall. So, even with availability, you’d still end up running around the airport to the other carriers finding out if you could possibly get on. Having all the options and times at least helps you prioritize where to start.

  3. Stef says:

    @Sam: Yes, but couldn’t you just do the same thing at a “conventional” flight search website by checking the “direct flights only” box? With the benefit that you also get the prices etc.

  4. Simon says:

    Confirm this is working in the UK as well. Personally, I think it’s really interesting – clearly it’s just the beginning – potentially another money-spinner for the big G.

    I do agree though, a little pointless to buy ITA Software just for this; although with a bit more integration it could provide some good advantages.

  5. Danny Kenya says:

    Totally agree with a few points here and Simon has hit the nail on the head by saying that this is just the start of things to come. Google loves to throw things out there in “beta” stage to get opinion and gauge reaction, this will then change, change more then change again to the real deal

  6. Sanjeev M says:

    They need flight status info ASAP. (or maybe they have it?)

    • CF says:

      If you type in an airline and flight number into a Google search box, you’ll get the flight status info at the top of the page via FlightStats.com.

  7. Xandrios says:

    The ITA deal only happened last month; it is very safe to say that this feature has nothing at all to do with ITA. In other words, the final implementation powered by ITA is yet to come.

  8. TJ says:

    I actually don’t mind Google’s implementation of this… It allows me to see when exactly non-stop flights occur between two cities – and then I can go to another site to try to get good prices for those flights. Often I search for specific flights only to realize that it doesn’t operate on that specific day. Also, looking forward to seeing what they do with ITA.

    • CF says:

      How often are you searching for fares within a week? Because this only gives schedule info for the upcoming week and not beyond.

  9. OK I’ll be stupid, where is it grabbing all the flight info from and how accurate is it?

    • CF says:

      I would assume it’s coming from either Innovata or OAG, the two schedule databases. I also would assume that it’s highly accurate.

  10. Endre says:

    I can get all this from FlightStats.com and it gives me scheduled/possible delays also on the flight in a nice GUI page. Now.. may be .. just may be.. if Goggle could figure out the sex, name, age, mariage status, haircolor, eyecolor, weight, brasize (if female) for the flight attendants on the flights… now .. we are talking…

  11. maxe says:

    Why so cranky, Cranky? It is just a start. Or are you afraid it might meddle with your business? One finds it very interesting and useful, right out of the browser, no site to go into, and being bombarded with even more advertising, more cookie info gathered, more privacy lost… Ah. I forget. We are looking at the American market. The only one in the known Universe.

  12. JayB says:

    Of course, all this drives me, nothing but an airline customer, crazy. And I blame it all on the airlines…no one else.

    1. Dupicative numbers (code shares) for a single flight, and flights that are listed in the OAG with an asterisk. My printed OAG has about doubled now that nearly every UA and CO flight has a code-share number. And, any “operated by” flight listed with an asterisk…like, can you tell, reading the OAG, who is really operating the flight?

    2. Change-of-gauge flights. Looks like a through flight, until you check the “asterisk” to discern you actually have to change planes enroute. So you check, you find the specific aircraft types, but where is the change going to be made? (“Please, Mr. Customer, you ask too many questions!”)

    3. Fare after fare for the same flight and essentially for the exact same service. OK, so we’ve discussed that before!

    4. Availability. You can dig for the fare info until you’re half dead, but “We have the right to limit the number of seats we make available at any given fare, so why are you wasting your time checking out all the stupid fares we list!”

    OK, so let’s blame Google, or some software vendor for making this all too simplistic Forget it. The airlines have no interest in making, nor seeing that anyone else makes this information simple and easy for the customer to understand. Not in the airlines’ DNA. Never has been and sadly, probably never will be.

    Anyway, thanks for the topic, Cranky!

  13. Jeremy says:

    PS… Off Topic?

    What I REALLY want is a way to search by fare….
    I live equal distance from SFO, OAK and SJC…
    This last weekend the better half and I wanted to get out of town, didnt really matter where we went, just wanted to go….

    I really wish there was a place to just say “Find me all the flights leaving from SFO in the next 24 hours and sort by the lowest price…..”

    • CF says:

      Sounds like you need the good old days of Travelocity Dream Maps. Sadly, those are toast. You can get sort of close with Kayak Buzz but it’s not quite the same.

  14. Google has brought printe time tables into the 21st century. Who knew we still needed printed time tables?

  15. stan says:

    i’ll tell you why this is a bit useful…

    flights like LA to chicago, which leave many many times a day are easy to find. but let’s say i want to go from JFK to rio de janeiro. if i use google i find this:

    Valid through Jun 8
    6:15 pm ? 5:29 am JFK-GIG S M – W T – S TAM 8079
    9:30 pm ? 8:40 am JFK-GIG S – – W T F S American 255

    what have i learned? i learned that JFK – GIG on american does not fly on M and T. this is handy for scheduling a trip. if i have to leave on a monday, i can choose TAM.

    i suspect google’s offerings in this arena will expand.

  16. Stan

    Valid through Jun 8
    6:15 pm ? 5:29 am JFK-GIG S M – W T – S TAM 8079
    9:30 pm ? 8:40 am JFK-GIG S – – W T F S American 255

    Stan how funny you picked that as an example, as starting June 9 AA goes JFK-GIG daily for summer as flight 973.

    So since it only gives you a within the week schedule, a person could think that schedule is what AA does all the time. Shows you have to keep trying everyday to see the next day (within a week) or use some other site that would have shown the new schedule starting on June 9 if you could use a date range.

    Hopefully they will tweek the service soon.

    • stan says:

      i think google will make this service more useful in the future

      and i have no idea why i chose JFK-GIG as my example, i just picked a destination that i thought might not have an every-day schedule. but my point stands. i was once trying to find JFK-PSA flights, wasn’t thinking too hard, and it took a little trial and error to figure out why i couldn’t leave tuesday.

  17. I just noticed now that I’m checking it out, that it does give info past a week depending on the market.

    Checking Vision Airlines and you get schedules until July 31.

    Singapore to Sydney until June 13.

    Now I’m wondering why? Why are most of what I check within the next week, but other markets give schedules for more days out?

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