It was a casual Sunday here in London, and I was minding my own business plotting my next great trip on Google Flights when I saw something I’d never seen before “$200 off through Google”.
Let’s be clear here: this wasn’t the usual screen that pops up showing the various ways to book, and how much each booking option will cost – this was a specific mention of a discount, via Google. That’s never ever appeared before. Color me fully interested.
Unfortunately, that’s where the excitement stopped, but perhaps only for today. Each click through from Google Flights to Qatar yielded a higher price, directly in line with what the other online travel agencies were offering. But with each attempt, it was clear that this special promotion could just be early, not wrong. I tried various cities, various cabins and after no more than a couple searches was always able to find an example where a “$$$ off through Google” message was displayed.
For anyone who speaks tech, or coding, this isn’t the kind of message that just populates itself out of nowhere. This is something that’s been deliberately coded to show potential savings, which could be a real tip of the hand towards what’s to come.
When you click through a link, Qatar returns an error message stating that the offer is not valid for the stated route – not that it doesn’t exist, or has expired. Yes, this is all speculation at this point, but it’s very possible that Qatar will soon offer further integration with Google Flights, where you can book on the Google Flights search page, without clicking over. Case in point, Lufthansa presently offers this.
Lufthansa was the first to allow flights to be booked directly on Google Flights, without actually navigating over to Lufthansa, via the “Book With Google” feature. If Qatar Airways was about to roll this out, or something similar, what more exciting way than to offer something like a 10% discount?
Could this all be a big nothing? Yeah, of course it could. Qatar Airways could easily see Google Flights as a great way to cut down on paying commission to online travel agencies, and allow Google Flights to show that their fares are generally lower directly from the airline.
But, could it be early days signs of one of the more technologically advanced airlines collaborating with the most favoured consumer flight search engine? It could make a lot of sense.