Google launched Google Flights today, making it possible to search for airfares by price, destination and duration -- and book a trip on an airline's website. The launch comes five months after Google acquired the Cambridge, Mass.-based ITA Software, which specializes in flight data, for $700M.
Google Flights currently only offers round-trip economy-class tickets and says paid relationships do not influence flight selection and results.
"Airlines control how their flights are marketed, so as with other flight search providers, our booking links point to airline websites only," wrote Kourosh Gharachorloo, Google engineering director, on the Inside Search blog. "We're working to create additional opportunities for our other partners in the travel industry to participate as well."
Many players in the online travel industry criticized the ITA acquisition fearing that Google would gain too much leverage and end up choosing the winner and loser in the online airfare travel market.
Addressing those concerns, Google said it had no plans to sell tickets directly but would instead be directing customers to the airline's website.
Department of Justice approval of Google's ITA acquisition required that Google continue to license ITA's QPX airfare search software at commercially reasonable terms.
Orbitz, Hotwire, Kayak and CheapTickets use QPX.
Google Flights lets you click directly on cities to find flights, and its calendar function displays a bar graph where you can see what are the most and least expensive travel dates.
When you search for airfares on Google, a new "Flights" link appears on the left hand navigation underneath "Shopping."
Google began providing flight data in search results in May.
The calendar function displays a breakdown of when the cheapest and most expensive times to book a flight.
After you have selected your flight clicking on the 'Book' button will take you directly to the airline site.