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Google has launched a new flight search service designed to compete with the likes of Expedia, Kayak and Travelocity to help consumers find and compare airfare rates. Google Flight Search is the offspring of the company's acquisition of ITA Software, a flight information software that was purchased in July 2010.
Users can search for flights on Google just as they would anything else. For example, when searching "flights from Memphis to Las Vegas", you will see a "Flights" link on the left side panel which leads to the new Flight Search feature.
Google Flight Search features four main characteristics that the company hopes will lure you to their service. These include fast search results, a simple list of the most relevant flights, seeing which travel dates are the least expensive and exploring alternate destinations.
The system is online now and can be accessed by visiting google.com/flights, although initially the service will be limited to certain US cities and display only round-trip economy flights, according to a Google blog post.
ITA Software provides airfare data to competing travel sites which sparked an investigation from the US Department of Justice when the search giant set about purchasing it. The DOJ determined that the original proposal would have lessened competition among providers, resulting in reduced choice and less innovation for consumers.
The acquisition was finally approved after Google agreed to several terms and conditions, including but not limited to allowing competing sites to continue to license ITA's software, continuing to research and develop the product and to establish internal firewall procedures.