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Google now offers flight bookings directly through search

Google has introduced a new feature that lets users search, compare and book flights via the search engine on desktops, mobiles and tablets. As of now, the company partners Goibibo.com to offer bookings over flight search.

Note that Google had initially started flight search in India last year, which showed the location of any flight along with time of arrival and departure. While this feature was previously available for International flights, Google had added support for domestic flights then. Besides web search, these features were also be available on its Android and iOS app through voice search.

GoogleFlightSearch

A user directly accessing Flight Search is presented with various destinations the user might want to visit based on previous searches and preferences. These destination ‘cards’ list the time it takes for the flight and the price of the flight. Selecting any of these options takes a user to the full list of flights catering that route, and selecting one of these flights, presents the user with options to book via the airline (which redirects to a purchase page on the given airline), or through Goibibo.

Users can search for city-to-city flights with either one way, two-way or multi-city options. Additionally the search lets users narrow down tickets based on class (economy, business, first class etc.), stops it will take, price range, airline brand, flight timings and duration of the flight. Users can book directly from the search results displayed, and can even save or share their itinerary.

The flight search has some interesting features, like displaying a calendar in the departure date field, displaying the lowest fares for the route on the given day. A lowest fares graph is also displayed, which gives users an idea on how prices fluctuate based on seasons, holidays and other events. Users can also set dates and tap to expand the map, to view live prices for various destinations around the world.

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Viability in India?

Interestingly, Cleartrip’s chief marketing officer, Subramanya Sharma,  pointed out to Medianama that this will have limited success in the Indian market, as the consumer pricing on the air market is fairly homogenous across airlines & OTAs. Also, most of the trusted OTA service brands are not present in the Google Flight search product and hence the service outcomes for consumers might be different from what they have been experienced so far. Additionally, he mentions that India is mainly low cost carrier model, and many airlines like Air Asia, Air Costa etc. are missing. Additionally, through Google Flights, consumers are forced to pick the same airline on both legs for LCC’s. So this might have repercussions on pricing.

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