Google is quietly trying out some new functionality around flight searches, using the UK as a test bed to display journey duration and available airlines.
Not available to all users as yet, some route queries are returning flight information not normally seen ahead of organic search results.
In the example above (“flights to barcelona”) the user sees a list of airlines and flight times to Barcelona from a number of UK airports.
Perhaps the really interesting bit is what happens when the user selects the “show all non-stop routes to Barcelona” tab:
Now the results also include flight times and available airlines from destinations all around Europe, as well as an airline serving the route.
As this is a test available only to some users (unable to replicate here at this stage) it is difficult to see what happens when a user either clicks on the name of the airline or the origin airport.
Google has yet to respond to calls about the experiment, but in the past when various bits of testing have been found on live sites it usually declines to comment specifically and simply says it regularly tries out new tools and features within search.
With the acquisition of ITA Software in the bag, such comments are perhaps now somewhat understated.
Picking the UK for the test is slightly unusual for Google, more often than not selecting either the US or Canada when it is trying out new functionality.
Nevertheless, UK users are invariably pretty quick to see new tools and services after their US counterparts, mostly notably in December 2010 when hotel prices on Google Maps were added (and partners selected) after being trialled in the US.
NB: Hat-tip – SEOGadget.