Skift Take

Google would never merely imitate what Hipmunk is doing. You can be assured that under the hood there are a whole lot of analytics going on to determine what the Best Flights really are.

Google introduced new features in its flight-search product, and one of them is a less-visual imitation of Hipmunk’s Agony index.

Hipmunk’s optional Agony sort presents what it deems to be the best flight-search results based on “a combination of price, duration and number of stops,” and Hipmunk displays the choices in a visual way, devoid of verbiage and clutter.

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Now when you search for a flight using Google Flight Search, the search results default to three “Best Flights,” which Google’s ITA Software says in a blog post “are most likely the best trade off between price and convenience.”

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So Google isn’t saying precisely how it makes this determination, but, like Hipmunk, Google is trying to streamline flight search with a pain-remover.

Users can still optionally sort their results by price, duration, departure, arrival, airline and number of stops — or chose to search by Best Flights.

Is Google trying to out-Hipmunk Hipmunk?

“It’s definitely a step in the right direction for them,” says Hipmunk CEO Adam Goldstein, “but remember, it was three years ago when we launched the first version of our flight search and there’s a lot of ground for all of our competitors to make up to get to where we were, even back then.”

It’s highly doubtful, though, that Google is merely parroting Hipmunk under the hood of its flight search engine. The ultimate test will be in the flight options favored.

Google Flight Search also introduced a Tips feature, which identifies potential savings by traveling on different days and/or using different airports.

For example: “Save $87 if you leave on Thursday, August 15 (instead of August 16),” one Tip says.

The Tip feature also alerts the users to “inexpensive upgrades to business class on your target travel dates,” Google’s ITA says.

The upgrade advice, of course, benefits Google’s airline advertisers, and may be advantageous to some travelers, as well.


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Tags: hipmunk

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