IT giant Google’s new flight comparison search engine Google Flights has arrived in Australia but one leading industry expert says it falls short of providing consumers with the cheapest deals.
Google launched its new flight price comparison tool on Wednesday bringing added competition to popular flight websites such as Skyscanner, Expedia and Cheapflights, which offer consolidated search engines for flight deals.
Google Flights similarly allows users to compare flights and prices for varying destinations and dates, with options to search by airline, time and class.
University of Sydney aviation management expert Professor Rico Merkert told The New Daily he was not overly impressed with Google’s latest application, claiming it would have been far better to integrate the feature into flagship product Google Maps.
He said he would personally not use it in preference to other travel fare comparison sites.
“I would have liked to see integration with Google Maps. The next step would be for Google to use its data to find the best route for trips with more than two destinations [which need transfer flights], much like Maps telling you the best driving route based on traffic,” Professor Merkert said.
“Existing websites (like Expedia) often offer package deals, for example with accommodation, and more detailed information. To my knowledge, Google isn’t doing that, at least yet.
“At the moment, I don’t see how it adds value to what’s already available except the convenience in that it loads very quickly and could be handy to get a rough estimate on-the-run.”
Professor Merkert said there was also a concern that Google collects data and over time would store a substantial database of its users’ flight history.
“It would have the potential to show limited information customised to the user’s profile,” he said.
“I’m not saying that’s a bad thing – it could be very useful – but it means we’re not getting the full picture.”
When The New Daily tested various potential flights, prices did not vary significantly within Australia but as soon as international destinations were plugged in, some websites proved to have better deals than Google.
Here are a few examples revealing the price differences, comparing the cheapest flights available for a single adult departing on an economy flight on July 1 and returning July 8.
Cheapest available flights on July 1, return July 8
Cheapflights regional sales manager Nathan Graham said it was “inevitable” that Google would launch a travel product.
“For many, staying within the Google ecosystem provides the benefit of convenience and speed as flight searches can sync with other data. For others however, we know that this level of insight and data ownership is cause for concern,” he said.
“Our 20-plus years’ of experience, direct relationships with flight and online travel agents and industry partners, and singular focus on flight metasearch (as opposed to Google’s polymathic approach), gives us a unique advantage.”
Skyscanner growth manager Emily Callahan told The New Daily it also welcomed the new competition.
“The introduction of more players encourages market innovation that will ultimately benefit consumers in the long run,” she said.
“With more than six years in the market and honing our proprietary technology for over a decade, we’ve built direct partnerships with airlines and online travel agents, globally and locally.
“We are also more than just flights. We compare options for hotels and car hire too, and we’re continually evolving our service to meet the needs of the traveller.”
Google was contacted for comment but did not respond by deadline.