Have you had a chance to check out Google’s new travel tool? Last Friday the Internet giant quietly announced a new search tool that helps travelers quickly see which airlines serve a specific route and when they fly.
For example, having written about new competition on the SFO-Chicago O’Hare route last week, I was curious to use the tool to see exactly how many flights per day there are between the two cities.
So I went to the Google search field and entered “flights from San Francisco to Chicago.”
On the results page I got this:
The results perplexed me. Why? Because it displayed the airlines on the route as “United, American, Virgin America, and 2 more.”
TWO more? I knew that Southwest also served the route via Midway. . . But what was the other carrier?
So I clicked on the drop-down “schedule of nonstop flights” and scanned down the list and learned something new (as is often the case with any Google tool. . .). I learned that Continental Airlines now offers a single daily nonstop on the SFO-ORD run using a nice new B737-900.
How did I miss that one? First, I went to my blog post and updated the info, including Continental.
Then I called on SF-based travel industry analyst Henry Harteveldt and asked, “Huh?”
He said: “This actually illustrates the benefits of the United-Continental merger: Allowing the airline to deploy capacity in markets where there is strong demand, or a need to defend key markets by enhancing the schedule. Having shrunk itself over the past few years. . .United has a relatively small domestic mainline fleet so Continental can help fill in aircraft capacity gaps.”
So I’m already hooked on this new Google travel tool. This is the first move Google has made in the travel space since its recent acquisition of ITA Software, the company that provides the backbone for most airfare searches. It’s going to be interesting to see what else the brains down in Mountain View come up with when it comes to travel search. . . Stay tuned!
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