I know – How dare I criticize the great Google? After all, they are one of the most amazing companies on this planet. Not only have they mastered search engine technology, but they have also entered, and quickly dominated, many other markets.

So, when Google entered the flight search market, by introducing Google Flights, many people were expecting to see the best flight search. Is that what they got?

The short answer is no, and here is why.

Missing low-cost airlines and OTAs

Google Flight search is the result of Google’s acquisition of ITA Software, a company whose travel technology powers Bing, American Airlines, Kayak, and other major travel websites.

Have you ever wondered why Google Flights is so incredibly fast? It’s because this technology allows Google to calculate prices for major airlines in advance and have them ready when you search. But this method does not work for some low-cost airlines and OTAs and, therefore, simply won’t always get you the best price.

They have improved a lot recently, I will give them that much, but they still have a long way to go. Let’s look at an example.

Say I want to book a flight from Orlando to Liverpool in September. This is what the Google Flights results looked like.

Google Flights Results


Google obviously had some issues with this request.

The good news is that Google will certainly not cause you to experience choice anxiety. They also actually suggest that you make a different search to improve the results, which is a great idea. The bad news, however, is that this is an example of how Google is not able to fetch relevant prices effectively. Let’s see what happens when I make this search on Dohop (I know, shameless plug. I don’t care that much).

Dohop Search - No self-connect


By booking tickets with Delta and FlyBE, you will get your ticket for $1,018 using Dohop. Not only do you have options, but you get a pretty good deal. Of course I had to make a few searches before finding this example, but when you have hundreds of thousands of searches every day, the list of examples gets pretty long.

In order to keep thing less biased, I checked what my friends at Hipmunk could do for me.



I have some options, which is more than what Google could do, but $1,340 is definitely not the best deal.

Even though Google has improved significantly since they launched their product almost 4 years ago, they are still trailing most other solutions in this aspect. Unfortunately for Google, this is not their only issue.

No Self-Connect

Dohop‘s Self-Connect technology allows you to search for the cheapest possible flight tickets for your trip, even if it means that you have to book 2 separate tickets.

Most search engines, including Google Flights, simply ask/calculate how much a flight ticket costs given a certain date and destination. The self-connect technology, on the other hand, first asks how to get there before it asks how much. When we have figured out all the possible ways to get between two places, we get prices for each possible leg of the trip.

Sometimes it turns out to be cheaper to book with multiple airlines or OTAs and if that’s the case, that will be the first price you see.

If you paid close attention to the Dohop screenshot above, you notice that the Self-Connect filter was left uncheck. Now let’s include the self-connect results in our Orlando – Liverpool search and see what happens.

Dohop Self-connect

Now we’re talking. $1,018 down to $747 is definitely a significant improvement. This is the power of self-connect and one of the main reasons why Google will not always show you the cheapest prices. Of course, there is a certain level of risk and inconvenience involved with booking 2 separate tickets, but if it saves a family of 4 $1,084, it’s likely to be well worth it.

You might ask yourself, “but why doesn’t Google have Self-Connect if it’s so big and powerful?”. The short answer is that they just don’t think it’s worth creating. The added level of complexity building this kind of product is simply something most other companies choose to avoid.

Self-Connect has been Dohop’s speciality from the start, or since 2004. Instead of imitating what others were doing, the founders came up with what they believed was the best way to find the cheapest flight tickets. Only a few other websites, such as Skyscanner, Kayak, and Skypicker can offer the self-connect technology, although limited in many ways.

But don’t just take my word for all of this. The proof is in the results. Try some different searches for yourself and compare Google Flights with others.



What Google Flights is doing right

It would be wrong pointing out the bad without talking about the good. Google Flights certainly has a lot going for it and will undoubtedly continue to improve.

First, despite their lack of prices and self-connect options, they have the majority of the USA covered. So, if you are looking for a domestic flight in USA, Google Flights will most likely show you a competitive price. This minimizes the issues I mentioned above somewhat.

Second, as mentioned above, Google Flights is insanely fast. This is because of how they calculate and store their prices and is a big plus for impatient travelers. Third, they have begun allowing people to book their tickets directly through the booking search result, which is highly convenient for the user.

Finally, they are Google. Their reputation and development power will make a lot of issues much easier to solve. It also means seamless integration with other Google services. For example, allowing you to book your ticket straight from search results, checking in through Gmail, automatic reminders on your Google Calendar, and navigation to the airport through Google Maps are all features available through Google or coming soon.

The bottom line

What’s the purpose of a flight comparison website? Isn’t it to show cheap ticket prices? If you don’t do that well, none of the other features will make up for it. It’s like going to a movie theater that has high-tech, ultra comfortable, Lay-Z-Boy chairs, but all of their movies are terrible. Sure, the seating is comfortable, but that’s not why you go to the movies.

At the end of the day, all Google really does is quickly show you flights that you can get for less on Dohop (and other websites).

Written by Þorsteinn Sverrisson
Þorsteinn (Thor) is an online marketing guru at Dohop. He loves playing with numbers and has a secret love affair with graphic design.