LAST month, Google introduced the first version of its new flight search feature (Google.com/flights) and the response has mostly focused on what it does not offer. Right now, it can search only for round-trip tickets for select domestic destinations. And while it is much faster than other travel search engines, it does not display fares from all the airlines that serve a particular route.
Sean Carlson, a Google spokesman, said the current flight search is only an “early look” at what is in the pipeline and that more options will be added as engineers integrate technology from ITA Software, which Google bought earlier this year.
Though Google’s debut may have been premature, its foray into flight search has shaken up the competitive landscape, which is good news for travelers. One notable change is that travel search engines are finally moving away from the one-size-fits-all approach to booking a flight, and are building tools that answer specific questions about different types of trips. Here are some of the most pertinent queries that search engines are currently taking on.