There was a time in the 90s when eAAsySabre was publicly available to anyone, and text based searches were simple and fast and so easy. But Google Flights is even better, IMO.
Pretty amazing that sites entirely dependent on travel search seem satisfied with 10-year old UI while Google showed how much better it could be.
There's just one problem -- because a ton of the data is cached, or precomputed, or however it's done, a substantial and frustrating amount of the data is simply wrong. As in, an unbookable flight. I spend probably an unreasonable amount of time searching for flights, and anecdotally I'd say about 5-10% of the results I get (not even for complex itineraries) either have a completely incorrect price, or are wholly unbookable on any website. Calling the airline doesn't count, because if their website doesn't have it, 99% chance neither will the call center.
For example, one from a few hours ago: https://www.google.com/flights/?f=0#f=0&flt=/m/01lfy./m/02_2...
The QPX search engine is actually the same behind Google flights and all the airlines and what Orbitz used to use. The limitation pre google/flights was the on-demand querying only.
Now the contiguous querying, obviously, gives you a load of useful historical data. After running it for a couple of years now they seem to feel confident that they can predict prices changes with enough accuracy that the payouts for misses will be an acceptable price for the publicity, or increased use of their other travel products.
(disclaimer: ex-ITA/Xoogler, opinions my own)
The result is that sometimes the information they display can be out of sync with airlines. You should notice this issue more on rarer flight routes.
Pretty much all airlines don't own/run the source of truth for their flights and haven't for decades. They outsource that to GDS such as Sabre and Amadeus.
Their backends are not fragile.
You just have to pay for every query thus the caching.
My solution so far is to search for broad prices for my approximate dates on Google, and when I see something promising open a new tab and go straight to the airline's site where I search for an actual offer for a specific flight.
I've found Google Flights super useful this way, though I guess they make less money on me than they could.
Perhaps, but I was never impressed with Orbitz during its heyday. I remember watching a Google tech talk* about how hard a problem it is to give the searcher a viable set of options to chose from. However, in my experience, the viable set of options always seemed to include a 23 hr layover with with multiple connections that was $200 cheaper than the nonstop option, and various single connection 1hr layover options about $150 cheaper than nonstop. At the time, both Expedia and Travelocity offered a more reasonable set of options.
* can't seem to find it right now. Will post if able to locate later.
Fare Construction (can be useful to travel agents)
CPH SK X/MAN VS NYC 500.77HLHF06MN NUC 500.77 END ROE 6.637696 XT 161ZO 167UB 39YC 47XY 27XA 124US 646YQ
I wish that Google Flights would offer a way to get this info in the UI; it's not common but not greatly unusual to be in this position (where Flights can find the fare but the UIs available to consumers can't book it).
Funny story: just last week I was booking a complicated multi-city trip with 5 legs, multiple countries, etc. I tried several times via united.com, and it wasn't showing me any flights available in one of the legs (which I knew they had a codeshare agreement).
I went back to Google Flights, chose all my flights, selected "Book with United", and was able to finish the reservation on united.com (!), with all the flights properly populated, including codeshares.
It's remarkable that the integration between Google Flights and the airlines is better than even the airlines' websites themselves.
But validating and pricing any single itinerary is a trivially easy problem ("P"), so United can handle that no problem. It can't come up with the itinerary, but given a particular one, it will sell it to you.
So no, there's no special magic here.
Google Flights is destined to be on chopping block sooner or later. It has not much influence on core business and is not going to be wildly profitable. The problem is that by the time Google kills it, Kayak and other competitors would be forced in to unrecoverable comma or just outright killed off as well.
Really? I've yet to see a flight be cheaper or close to what the likes of Kayak and Skyscanner have provided.
What sets it apart is the UI and fast search. But I guess with fast searching (caching) comes inaccurate results. It’s a thin line.
Iirc I stumbled upon one of the flight tracking services by pure chance.
Having said that, I feel like Skyscanner at the very least has their own systems in place. There have been times where I've chosen a ticket, have gone through to the website that sells the ticket at the price, and just before it goes through, Skyscanner validates that the price still exists, and then bails saying the price has increased or decreased. Usually it's not by a lot, but it has happened.
Multiple times flying from random places in Africa to Australia return, and Australia to Canada, GFlights was at least $1k more than the cheapest on kayak or orbitz.
Maybe GFlights just doesn't show overly cheap options..?
Don't be surprised that many other travel sites cannot compete. After all, most of the sites are owned by either Expedia or Priceline. They are not startups. Also, they focus more on hotels since that's where the money is.
Expedia Group owns: Expedia, Ebookers, Orbitz, and Travelocity.
Booking Holdings owns: Priceline, Agoda, Kayak, Momondo, and Cheapflights.
Ctrip Group owns: Trip.com, and SkyScanner.
Earlier this week Google had fewer flights than Expedia.
Simple systems acting in concert are devilishly complex. (Former algorithmic trader.)
Counterparties' systems fail. They misfire. They get confused by the weather and interns punching in parameters wrong. Internal dynamics, like someone stretching to hit a goal or getting lucky on a hedging contract, are material and unpredictable.
And that's the least of it. The limits on the sorts of adversarial behaviors that manifest when counterparties know you have an algorithm watching are profound. It incentivises betting against the watchman. Google may have the data. But the airlines control the book.
But I do not believe so. From my experience airlines are extremely strict about their partners displaying correct pricing. I've been told displaying a price lower than what is available is illegal / a liability and work under that assumption but I'm not the person who knows the specifics. However displaying a price higher than the lowest available will also get us in big trouble with the airlines. Maybe my work is biased since I deal with promotional campaigns and ads, but the general reason for a complaint will be something like (just making up fake examples) the airline having a 24-hour sale, and because we our systems didn't pick up on that for 2 hours so that's 1/12 their marketing budget thrown away.
Furthermore, many airlines don't directly manage their own booking and pricing and instead have it managed by a third party. So aside from legality and conditions from the airline, you can also be bound to conditions by your reservation system. There are plenty of them, but if you want one to Google for your curiosity Sabre Corporation is the largest.
Google does have a tremendous advantage if it controls the _flow_( sending traffic/customers to airlines) versus the airline's having control of the book.
It's not a simple problem. It's unlikely Google has it remotely solved.
> Google does have a tremendous advantage if it controls the _flow_( sending traffic/customers to airlines) versus the airline's having control of the book
Google is one of many online travel agents for airlines. It doesn't control the flow.
"Controlling the book" means airlines know who has booked how many tickets and at what price. They control how many tickets are left. They control whether and when a flight flies. They control prices.
Reselling tickets is a distribution problem. Guaranteeing prices is a trading problem. Google has a pitch with the former. It holds few cards with the latter. The only stick it holds to dissuade aggressive behavior from airlines is cutting them off from its distribution.
In June, I was literally in CVG airport (inside of security) when my Delta flight was delayed. I decided not to book a ticket on United that was leaving in ~35 minutes because I wasn't sure that I could get over to the other terminal before boarding closed. (It also wasn't 100% clear that the United flight was going to make the connection in DC because of weather that was also screwing up Delta.)
If they only guarantee the price of the same airline (which make sense considering that different airline offer different quality of service), then that would just hurt Google once without benefiting the airline and in fact, it would hurt the airline in Google.
The terms are clear: When we predict the price won’t decrease for select itinerarie
If airlines have unpredictable random price spikes, then they won't be able to qualify for the price guarantee. Having that guarantee seems like a good value add and may bring more customer toward theses offers. I don't know if Google would place theses airline higher in the result, but it would make sense because that's something that someone may prefer.
It was part of their usual shady promotions where they say "flights from $199" and there are really only a couple of seats available at that price, and they go fast.
The 'best price guarantee' guarantees the customer will receive the lowest price for their ticket. Google will refund them if anyone gets a lower price.
The airline can release, for 30 seconds only, a much lower price. Then Google has to refund all their customers, and the airline might only sell a handful of tickets at the lower price.
Remember airline tickets aren't fungible. They have names attached, and can't be resold, so nobody can buy up thousands of tickets in a price dip and resell.
"Prices are measured between the purchase date and the departure date of your eligible itinerary." 
The key things to interpret there are "between" and "departure date". For example, I would interpret that as price changes on the day of the flight don't count. (i.e between is exclusive and date means the date, not date and time).
The airlines really are shooting themselves in the foot though... Google will end up with the biggest slice of the pie...
This is the main reason why I will never be able to use www.google.com/travel. I used to use the Trips app with no search history, but Google is shutting down Trips in favor of forcing people to loosen privacy settings. It is very disappointing because Trips worked very well.
> Consent is presumed not to be freely given if it does not allow separate consent to be given to different personal data processing operations despite it being appropriate in the individual case, or if the performance of a contract, including the provision of a service, is dependent on the consent despite such consent not being necessary for such performance.
If you don't want to see your search history (since you seem adamant on disabling it), then just use the other features on google.com/travel (destination/hotel/flight search).
Google is shameless about gimping their services unless you hand over gross amounts of irrelevant personal information.
Why would search history be related to travel history? Can't they be decoupled?
My only material beef is that I think it could do a better job of flagging possible oversights in your itinerary. "Umm Dave, I'm afraid you don't seem to have anyplace to stay on Wednesday night."
On complicated trips, I actually print out a calendar grid and make notes by hand. It would be nice if TripIt had a month calendar view that let you look at things that way.
But basically I'd like TripIt to flag possible problems rather than have me depend on eyeballing it--even though that works OK most of the time.
The printing out of calendar pages is more for trip planning. TripIt doesn't (and isn't really intended to do) anything along those lines.
I use and love TripIt but only like this:
0. Subscribe to my personal TripIt calendar feed.
1. Book flight, car, hotel, whatever.
2. Forward booking confirmation to email@example.com.
3. Now all those details are in my calendar.
What’s particularly useful is how it handles time zones. Flights seem to ‘just work’, and in the notes for any appointment it’ll tell you the local arrival & departure times anyway.
Google flights, maps, search: Use this new gmail account
My other communication: Use my existing gmail account
I could use two browsers, but it may be easier to just use 2 tabs in a single browser (I use firefox to access gmail).
Wonder if that will make life easier, or worse. Thoughts?
But oddly closed google trips, which frankly was decent. Google sometimes seems like incoherent.
No one in the class could really argue against it because as far as monopolies that Google could possibly create, that's pretty minor. A decade later, almost everyone seems to have forgotten that Google did it.
That’s really goofy reasoning. Just because google is huge and could do much more evil doesn’t mean that a small amount of evil (destroying the airline itinerary quote market) is ok. Is that what you meant to say?
Intro text is German, audio and transcription are English
The Trips app may have been nice for having it all in one place, but it definitely wasn't a necessary part of the experience.
The fact I use Gmail allows them to make Google maps and Google assistant better products than say bing maps and Cortana, because bing maps and Cortana could never get access to those reservation emails which make the whole thing work.
Such monopolies should be illegal - everything should be sharable via an API. Sadly those seem to have gone out of fashion with things like Cambridge Analytica.
For example, if I extract OGuth2 app information from Thunderbird, then I could theoretically make another user authenticate against Thunderbird's app and then ex-filtrate all of their Gmail data.
Gmail API is blocked for purely political reasons. E.G. real-time delivery of e-mails which is not accessible through non-Gmail clients.
Nobody gets promoted for maintaining a service.
So old services die because nobody wants to look after them. That won't change till Google reworks its employee incentives.
> When we predict the price won’t decrease for select itineraries booked between August 13 and September 2, we’ll guarantee the price won’t drop, and we’ll refund you the difference if it does.
If they have enough flight bookings per day, even a 1 day trial could be plenty to see how customers behave.
We essentially could not figure out how to contact anyone at Google Flights to clear up the situation or achieve any form of redress.
> Note: All bookings are made with the relevant airline or online travel agency.
Something like this had happened to me often enough that I no longer purchase anything through an intermediary when traveling. Flights, directly through the airline. Hotels, directly through the hotel. Theme park, directly through the park. Is it convenient to make reservations and/or pay in person on-site? On-site it is.
The occasional discounts just aren't worth the clusterfsck it becomes when there's any kind of misunderstanding or miscommunication.
It took less than 24 hours for the money to be back on my card - I don't think any humans were involved. Why would they be?
The question is not "can I contact a human if it all goes well and everything works perfectly?"
The question is "can I contact a human if it doesn't?"
> Price guarantee is available between August 13th and September 2nd, 2019. You'll see the price guarantee badge on select flights where travel is completed by November 24th, 2019.
Still sounds like a great deal, but this explains why it's not a huge liability.
This isn't the stock market - flights aren't transferable, since tickets are named.
That brand loyalty will remain even if Google kicks them off of their platform. Moreover, as more airlines get kicked off, Google is left with a smaller and smaller subset of airlines it is brokering tickets for.
Why in the world would you attack a business partner that brings you customers in such a strange way?
$100 loss per ticket
Total loss for Google: $100,000,000
Google's cash balance is $120,000,000,000
Google's operating income in 2018: $30,000,000,000
Co-ordination and system changes required to pull this trickery for airlines probably: $100,000,000 (and not even sure if it's legal)
Can't believe how naive hacker news is when it comes to business and change-management and legal and pretty much everything else
Farecast did this and was bought out by Bing to become Bing travel, who then stopped the price guarantees.
I used to use whatever flight prediction software Bing bought out when I traveled for work. It was pretty accurate most of the time, and I got used to trusting it, but I definitely got burned really badly a few times by continuing to wait as the price sky rocketed under the algorithms assurance that it would drop again before I needed to pull the trigger.
This is the kind of change that is not fun to learn the hard way.
So never again Marriott and I'm booking my travels via Priceline.
1) wouldn't mind being the middle man of one more thing
2) continue to transmit travel plans and would be plans to whoever wants to pay.
Google is an advertising and information company.
I had many times such refund and guarantee promises thrown out of the window with explanation "so use us if you want." All kinds of booking agencies being the worst offenders.
One time when I still lived in Canada, I went to a small claims court, and and civil tribunal with "ahem..., commercial contracts are not our jurisdiction"
I don't have enough knowledge on the matter, but I will absolutely use a different device and book directly on the airline's site to ensure I get the best price with no middleman fees.
Many aggregators offer big discounts for minor things like logging in or signing up for a newsletter.
$400 off for logging in - sure!
I think they have contracts in place about pricing for non-logged in users (ie. Neither of us will undercut the other). But when you're a customer, they suddenly offer much better deals. Yes I will take the 'loyalty bonus' of free extra 5 days stay for booking a weekend - thanks!
Some of the aggregators are so desperate to get customers that they will give you something for $0. I rented a car for a week for $0 through easyrentcars because I signed up through a refer link for example.
I _hate_ flying solely because of the gambling mechanic built-in to the purchase.
Uh, wait ...
> How much money can I get back?
Price guarantee pays you the difference between the flight price when you book and the lowest ticket price. To get money back, the price difference must be greater than $5. You can receive up to $500 back total for all of the flights you book with Google price guarantee.
That’d be pretty hilarious for an airline to explicitly dick them over for $500 a pop.
This feels like a different version of only 3 seats left or only 2 rooms available at this price. Why not notify me when the price goes down or is likely to go down?
There is no way Google is going to guarantee if there is a potential sale window from the airline.