Score a small victory for Bing as it added natural language search for flights.
For example, without inputting airport codes, dates and other particulars into the Bing search box, you can simply type, “Delta flights to New York for Christmas,” and retrieve a flight search widget and Top Deals from Bing Travel. The organic search results look like this:
The process is far from seamless — the traveler still has to insert the origin airport and take another step to launch the flight search widget and the Top Deals aren’t geared necessarily toward the consumer’s home airport — but it is better than doing a natural language flight search on Google.
[Correction: Bing's Instant Answer indeed populates origin airports based on Reverse IP technology, but didn't in the above example because the search was conducted from New Jersey -- too close to destination airports in New York.]
A Google search this morning for “Delta flights to New York for Christmas” didn’t retrieve any search engines from Google’s online travel agency partners and, in fact, the top organic result was for a Wikipedia entry about last year’s Christmas bombing attempt on board Northwest flight 253. Here’s what the organic search results looked like on Google:
About the natural language search for flights on Bing — it has potential, if developed, to ease the search experience.
Call it one small step for man, but so far hardly a giant leap for mankind.