Note: Originally Published May, 16, 2014 — Update: May 20, 2014 — Flight Explorer now appears to be back with the same functionality using the name Explore Flights.
Update — February 2, 2015 — Google Flight Explorer appears to have been removed from search results.
One of the best tools for consistently discovering great flight deals has been Google Flight Explorer. After Google moved to acquire ITA in 2010, Google Flights debuted in 2011 and Flight Explorer rolled out in December of 2012. A Google spokesperson told The Next Web it was an experiment.
Flight Explorer is a an experimental feature of Flight Search that allow users to explore flight destinations. The feature enables users to consider multiple destinations and multiple days at once, all using live prices, quickly.
The ability to search whole countries and entire regions rather than specific cities or airports really set this tool apart. For travellers on a budget, not having to select fixed dates or even a destination offered maximum flexibility when hunting for great deals.
Launched with no fanfare, Flight Explorer never received much promotion at all in the last year and half. On Wednesday the data vanished from searches and then the page itself was forwarded to Google’s regular Flights search page (using a 302 temporary redirect). With no official announcement, the sudden disappearance lead users on a number of travel and airfare forums to speculate if it may have been shelved.
Google Flight Explorer to Return?
This brief exchange on Twitter the day after it was pulled is promising:
David Robles Fosg is Business Development Principal at Google Travel and Noam Ben Haim is Senior Product Manager for Travel, Google Flight Search.
While there’s no indication of when it might return, it does seem that the removal may be temporary or perhaps that functionality will return as part of an expanded re-launch. Hopefully it comes back soon, I’m certainly looking forward to what else they might be working on.