Google Flight Search is the fastest flight comparison engine out there.
Search for a flight between any two cities — or even general regions, like from “New York” to “Europe” — and you’ll get a list of possible flights and their prices so fast it almost feels like magic.
Google can provide you with instant responses because it’s constantly pre-computing millions of different possible routes. So, when you search for a flight between two places, Google already has that query cached, so it can give you the information in a flash.
“It takes a lot of computing power — it’s very, very expensive,” Kourosh Gharachorloo, engineering director of Google’s travel team, tells Business Insider. “So expensive that most companies wouldn’t be willing to pay for it.”
Google, however, can afford to have its tech do that hefty lifting. That’s one of the things that makes Google such a fierce competitor: Because running search takes the biggest cloud-computing operation in the world, it has the resources to tackle other enormous computing projects extremely efficiently and without worrying about the costs.
Startups don’t have that luxury.
While Google has already started pulling in a little revenue through agreements with different travel partners, it’s expensive-to-run flight search isn’t a money-maker. That’s not the goal right now, and won’t be for a while. Google has enough resources that it can put off monetization as it tries to convert users with its lightning-fast speed and flexible search features.
“We’re working to provide users with an experience that will delight them,” Gharachorloo says.
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