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Bit by bit, airlines have slowly eroded the amenities included in their cheapest airfares. Want to choose your seat? That’ll be $50. Want to carry-on a bag? Actually, that’ll cost you money, too. Want leg room? Forget about it, just sell your first born. But Google Flights, Google’s airfare search tool, is making those hidden airline fees more transparent.
When you search airfares for United, Delta, and American Airlines’ flights, Google Flights now shows you what ticket tiers are available for purchase, along with more granular details for what each ticket type offers. When you see a super cheap “basic economy” flight on Delta, for example, Google lists out amenities not included with that ticket purchase, as well as ones that will cost extra money. That can include access to overhead bins, being able to choose your seats, the ability to upgrade your seat, and whether you’re able to change your flight.
These so-called “last class” tickets, while they look cheap up front, often carry numerous hidden airline fees that can add up and pose a nasty surprise when you get to the airport. Depending on your baggage needs, you may find that it makes more sense to buy an economy or even a first-class ticket.
On top of that, Google is also using AI to predict when flights may have delays. When you search a particular flight, you may see an alert that a delay is “likely,” along with a brief explanation.
Google Flights uses historical data to predict whether your flight may be late, but the service will only suggest your flight will be delayed when it is at least 80 percent sure. If you want to be definitive, you’ll want to wait and see whether you’re airline officially declares a delay. However, this tool could be useful to check right as you get to the airport so you know whether you actually need to rush to your gate or if you’ve got time to browse the Hudson News magazine stands for some non-Wi-Fi-dependent reading.
Google Flights is increasingly proving to be one of the most robust and helpful flight search tools around.
Christina Bonnington is a tech reporter who specializes in consumer gadgets, apps, and the trends shaping the technology industry. Her work has also appeared in Gizmodo, Wired, Refinery29, Slate, Bicycling, and Outside Magazine. She is based in the San Francisco Bay Area and has a background in electrical engineering.