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Google flight-search service takes off

The new flight-search feature on Google offers a quick sorting of air travel prices and dates, further building on data the search giant acquired with the purchase of ITA Software.

Google is rolling out a new flight search feature.
Google is rolling out a new flight search feature. Google

Google is adding a new airline schedule feature to its search site today, making looking for flights potentially as easy as googling yourself.

The feature, rolling out over the course of the day, will initially be limited to some U.S. cities and show results for round-trip economy flights only.

The information comes up when you visit or type into "flights from San Francisco to New York," for instance. A Flights link appears on the left side that leads to the new Flight Search feature, where users can make changes to dates, destinations, and filters much more quickly than it takes on most travel sites.

The feature also displays a simple list of relevant flights, a way to see which travel dates are least expensive by dragging the date selector forward or backward and to compare lots of dates at once on a bar chart. Users can also explore possible destinations, filtering by airline, flight time, and price. For example, users can view a map and use filters to see where flights will take them for a specific amount of money.

Flights are selected primarily based on cost and total travel time, while including a variety of departure times and airlines, Google said in a blog post on the feature.

Of course, ease of use is not the only factor people consider when choosing a travel site. They also want the site with the most airlines and flights in its database and its unclear how Google will compare to the sites like Orbitz, Expedia, and Kayak.

Robert Birge, chief marketing officer for Kayak, said the site uses multiple data sources and proprietary technology.

"We're confident in our ability to compete, and we believe our flight search technology is superior," he said in a statement. "We recognize Google is a formidable competitor but they haven't been successful in every vertical they've entered."

Google has offered flight schedules since May, but this new feature further builds on the company's recent acquisition of ITA Software, a firm that organizes airline data.

CNET's Stephen Shankland contributed to this report.