It’s rumored that Google may be ready to launch its flight search feature shortly, perhaps as soon as a few weeks. The flight search is integrated with ITA, a software firm acquired by Google in April that develops many of the reservations used by a lot of major airlines.
According to a TechCrunch report, Google is planning on using ITA’s data to create a variety of flight search tools. One of the features being developed is similar to Kayak’s Explore where travelers can view filters and price range for where they want to fly on a map interface. Google will also be returning flights, times and fares in search results based on search terms and a user’s IP address. For example, New Yorkers looking for a beach getaway will return results for tickets to Florida.
On top of the innovative, Google will return results for specific flight inquiries as well as added ITA airfare data including flight cost and where to book flights.
The $700 million acquisition of the travel software maker was originally blocked by the U.S. justice Department in 2010 because it would have significantly lessened comparative flight search competition. The industry, including Microsoft and Expedia, opposed Google acquiring the software firm because ITA would give the search engine giant access to a huge reservoir of data and a definite advantage on the playing field. The DOJ finally gave ITA to Google, provided the company adhered to some conditions.
Google is required to license ITA software to airfare websites, continue the devlopment of ITA’s InstaSearch at similar levels that ITA had invested in the past years. Google is also required by the DOJ to establish in-house procedures and firwalls to protect users’ proprietary information and prevent unauthorized use of use of sensitive information. Lastly, Google is barred from creating agreements among airlines which would prevent travel search competitors from gaining seating and booking information.