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Google Flights released a few new features recently to make booking travel plans just a little bit easier. Users now have the ability to book travel directly within Google Flights on Lufthansa, book train tickets (on select European rail services) and access additional information about flights, including food service, checked baggage, potential upgrades and more.
The new features add to the already info-rich service and provide a ton of helpful information during the booking process. These new features are currently limited to just a few airlines and rail services, but it’s likely that Google will expand the update as it continues to develop its Flights service.
Booking Directly with Lufthansa
Lufthansa now allows travelers to book tickets directly through Google Flights and streamline the purchase process. Earlier this year, the airline announced that it would be tacking on a €16 (about $17) surcharge to all tickets booked through third-party travel agencies such as Orbitz or Expedia. The move was an attempt to encourage more bookings on Lufthansa’s website in order to cut back on the missed revenue associated with booking through third-party travel agencies.
But there’s some good news here — it appears that you’ll pay the same price through Google as you will on Lufthansa’s website, meaning you’ll still avoid the €16 surcharge even though you’re not booking on lufthansa.com. It’s also possible to book flights through brusselsairlines.com and swiss.com without the charge. Either way, you’ll still earn a category bonus for airfare purchases when you charge the flight to cards such as the American Express Premier Rewards Gold (3x on airfare) or the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card (2x on all travel purchases) as Lufthansa processes the transaction.
Ultimately, this isn’t a huge change, but it’s definitely a worthwhile consideration if you’d rather avoid Lufthansa’s website or prefer the Google Flights interface. Nonetheless, it is indicative of Lufthansa’s effort to move away from online travel agents and keep flight booking closer to the source.
Purchase Rail Tickets through Google Flights
Booking train tickets can be a huge pain — especially in foreign countries where the websites often leave a lot to be desired (a few barely offer a proper language option for non-native speakers). Some are better than others, but this new feature makes it much easier to compare different train tickets. It only appears to be available with a few services right now, such as Deutsche Bahn (Northern and Central Europe), Renfe (Spain), and Trenitalia and Italo (Italy). While it’d be a nice addition for domestic travelers, Amtrak doesn’t appear to be one of the available rail services listed by Google.
The train search works the same way as the flight search — you simply input your origin and destination, and train service will appear along with flights between the cities. Like a normal flight, Google Flights will direct you to the rail service’s website to book.
Here are a couple examples of trains you can book:
Madrid to Seville for $88 round-trip on Renfe:
Frankfurt to Berlin for $41 round-trip on Deutsche Bahn:
Expanded Flight Details
Google Flights also introduced the ability to access more information for flights beyond the travel schedule, although only a handful of airlines seem to show up with this extra info. Lufthansa and United are just a couple of the carriers that now provide information with this update. This information obviously exists already on each of the airlines’ websites, but it’s nonetheless quite helpful if you’re looking for more info within Google Flights.
A small thumbnail will appear along with any flights that have this information available. Users will be able to see photos of the cabins, food and beverage, amenity kits and more. There’s also information available about possible upgrades for the selected flight and details regarding the perks each fare includes.
Ultimately these new features are a nice addition to Google Flights. The service is already quite robust, and one of our favorite ways to maximize airfare during the booking process here at TPG. More information is always better when you’re looking to maximize your travel, so this update makes the tool even more valuable.
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