Google Flights Gets It Wrong. Again. And Again

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“Google Flights is the Messiah!” Or so thinks a “journalist” at Huffington Post.

A recent article headlined 6 Google Flight Tricks That Are Better Than Any Travel Agent adds fuel to the “travel agents are dead” meme that is endlessly circulated by ramen-slurping technophiles who believe the Internet is the answer to everything, especially when it comes to the search for cheap flights.

(Warning: This very funny video contains some salty language.)

The inanity of the HuffPo piece is exemplified by this priceless piece of advice:  “Go with “I’m feeling lucky” to let Google plan your dream trip.”

Really? Really??? Would you go into a restaurant and say that? And if you did, wouldn’t the waiter say, “Well, what do you like?”

Google Flights gets a reality check

For Michele McDonald at TMR it was “Déjà Vu All Over Again.” Unlike the HuffPo writer, McDonald actually did some, you know, journalism.

For starters, she fact-checked HuffPo’s assertions about Google Flights.

Weirdly, its results for a St. Louis to Amsterdam search include a connection in New York, with a change of airport from LaGuardia to Kennedy. There is no dearth of one-stop services on the route; a change of airport is unnecessary.

Google Flights also seems to interpret “multi-city” as “Let’s cram as many stops into this trip as possible.”

For a St. Louis to Amsterdam search, intended to be the start of an Amsterdam-Paris-Nice trip, it returned a St. Louis-Seattle-Reykjavik-Amsterdam routing.

The layover in Seattle was 19 hours and 40 minutes. This does not bode well for a traveler looking to price a multi-city trip to Europe.

McDonald also drew my attention to the comments thread on the HuffPo piece (something I generally ignore), where travel agents spoke up for the profession.

 “Please, for most trips a travel agent is useless,” one reader wrote.

To which Paul Iacono of Journeys Beyond the Ordinary responded, “You’re probably correct, since ‘most trips’ are to the nearest beach or city, and most travelers are looking for the cheapest getaway they can find.”

But if a customer wants to skip waiting in line for four hours to get into the Sistine Chapel, or spend a day fossil hunting in Africa with a member of the Leakey family, or get seated in a restaurant that has been booked up for months, Iacono said he has the connections to make it happen.

Take that, Google Flights!

Now don’t get me wrong. I think Google Flights and other sites like Expedia can be great, especially for travel agents.

That’s because they siphon off customers (if we can grant them such an exalted term) that any sensible travel agent doesn’t want anyway – the point-to-point, lowest-possible-fare tirekickers who are so unknowledgeable that they think those Spirit airfares are actually a good deal. (See also the delightful Cheap Flights video above.)

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It’s also true that they can be a resource for travel agents. I recommend bypassing these sites and going directly to the software that Google purchased to power its service. It’s freely available, if you know where to look.

But back to those comments. If you can bear to read them, I think you’ll be taken aback by the ignorance and vitriol of the naysayers.

Although my hat is off to the travel agents who stepped up to the plate and tried to set the record straight, I cannot recommend that you do the same. Above all, don’t respond to the “travel agents are dead” morons. Like the old saying goes, “Never wrestle with a pig. You get dirty and the pig enjoys it.”

However, I do encourage you to click the “like” symbol next to the pro-travel agent entries. Every little bit helps.

Here’s the link again.

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Google Flights Gets It Wrong. Again. And Again was last modified: October 22nd, 2015 by Kelly Monaghan