For the more obsessive-compulsive travellers among us, trip-planning before the trip is part of the fun (or a necessary chore). The first step to ensuring a stress-free vacation is to scour the internet for direct flights with the ideal arrival and departure timings. Of course, the price point is also equally important in our hunt for the most value-for-money choices (as the ‘kiasu’ ones among us would say).
Many of us begin tracking flight fare promotions especially for long-haul trips to Europe as early as one year in advance. You can now do so easily through Google Now with its new ‘Flight Price Monitor’ card, that is if you have been doing your online search with its Google Flight Search website. The Google Flight Search engine is certainly user-friendly, and the results are easily filtered according to your indicated search preferences, be it via a price range, airline selection, number of stops and timings. A value-added feature is that Google will also helpfully indicate travel comments below each flight option. For instance, the Air France flight I shortlisted from Venice to Paris was flagged as ‘often delayed by 30+ min’, possibly due to the ongoing Air France strike.
Tip: Look out for the option to ‘save this flight’ at the bottom of the screen, which will allow you to start tracking flight prices via Google Now.
Hang on, what’s Google Now?
Unfamiliar with Google Now? Simply put, it is a digital personal assistant, not unlike Apple’s Siri. Both Google Now and Siri respond to questions via voice commands, and the Google team has also thrown in some fun commands such as the ‘barrel roll’ (watch video below). However, Google Now goes beyond that by preempting our desires – providing real-time insights on weather, travel information, sports results and the stock market – even before we ask for them.
To fully explore Google Now’s capabilities, you have to allow Google certain insights into your locations, your Google search history, and event calendar. Let it learn about you and your habits, and before long, it will be reminding you to set off for a meeting that’s 15 minutes’ drive away, and presenting you information on the nearby attractions or photo spots of every new city you venture to. During your morning commute, you can even get Google Now to wake you up when you arrive at your destination.
Information is laid out in the eye-pleasing format of cards, which you can choose to open up for more details, or swipe away to close them. The newly introduced ‘Flight Price Monitor’ card will alert you of price changes and keep you right on top of your vacation planning. Other useful cards for travelling include the ‘Flights’ card which shows you the status and schedule of your flight, the ‘Translation’ Card which suggests vocabulary words in the local language of your destination, and the ‘Currency’ card which gives you access to the current conversion rates.
Though it might not be the only platform which helps monitor flight prices, the charm of using Google Now is that it integrates the entire Google search experience for you, regardless of whether you are on iOS, Android or Google Chrome. How can you resist?