Before Google Flights, ITA Matrix was the tool for searching for cheap airfares around the world. While ITA Matrix still has its uses, Google Flights became a much more powerful, user-friendly way to search for flights anywhere in the world with broad ranges and to even set alerts.
Kayak Just Added a Google Flights-Type Feature – and It Is Good!
One of the great features of Google Flights that has been handy for many travelers is the ability to set multiple airports to search for. This is a great way to see if you can find a deal from BOS to Europe as opposed to out of JFK. Sure, you could do it one at a time, but by being able to add multiple airports (or an entire continent!) into your search parameter, it made things simpler.
Now, Kayak has added a similar feature. No longer do you need to rely on the search nearby airports toggle switch to find the best prices one area of the world at a time. Now, you can just start adding various airports to your TO/FROM fields and have the Kayak engine search for the best prices on all of those combinations.
They actually had this up not long ago and I only noticed it on the website version (which is because I normally use the app). However, they pulled it recently and just now, it is back again! You can go ahead and enter a bunch of different airports (actually, it maxes out at 3 while Google Flights lets you go up to 5 separate airports) to find the best and cheapest combination of airport city pairs.
Why Is This a Good Feature for Kayak?
So, why is this so good? While it is nice to have the graphical interface of Kayak to show you the prices on the calendar, select the things that are most important to you (airline, bags, layover destinations, etc), these are all things that are available in similar function on Google Flights.
However, the one thing that Kayak has that Google Flights does not is the availability on some flight options that may not show up with Google Flights. Google Flights is great but many times, I have found cheaper alternatives on Kayak than Google Flights showed me.
For example, I once found the cheapest flight option from Greece to western NY at $480 with Google Flights. Not bad but I wanted to check for something different. I quickly bounced over to Kayak and found an option for just $250 one way! This option was available through Air Serbia (which Google Flights did not show me, for some reason).
Kayak also offers hacker fares where it combines two one-ways for a roundtrip purchase. Unlike Google Flights, Kayak will walk you through step-by-step to purchase those tickets. The negative on this front with Kayak right now is that they don’t let you add multiple airpots in each field for Multi-City. Theoretically, you can search multi-city by searching roundtrip with various airport options but just know that you cannot add multiple airports if you search Multi-city.
At the end of the day, I am happy to see travel engines get better. It only serves to offer the customers more options and availability. There is good money for these OTAs (online travel agencies) so I am not surprised to see Kayak copying this simple feature from Google Flights to potentially get savvy travelers back from Google Flights. Hopefully, they will push each other (and others) more and more to give us even more options!