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How to book and manage your flights with Google Home

With the help of Google Assistant, you can use Google Home to replace your travel agent when searching for flights. Here's how.

For busy business travelers, managing and booking multiple flights can be quite troublesome. Part of the appeal of smart assistants is their ability to supplant personal assistance services—such as travel agents—in an effort to make the life of the end user easier. Using Google Home, you can find and track flights, get information for flights you have already booked, and get suggestions for what to do when you arrive at your destination.

SEE: Google Home review: A promising step toward the future (ZDNet)

Google Assistant is able to provide publicly-available information about available flights and pricing information for future flights using the QPX API. Information for flights you have already booked is distilled from information in your Gmail inbox. In order to use those features, enabling "personal results" in the Google Home app is required. Additionally, you can review information stored about you by using the "My Activity" manager in your Google account.

Searching for flights

You can find a flight by asking "Find me flights to (place)." By default, results include flights with stops, though you can ask "Find me non-stop flights to (place)." The reply will provide departure and return dates, starting price, and (typically) flight duration.

Assistant has some limitations in searching for places. Generally, asking for the name of a city returns the most reliable results. Asking for specific airports, e.g., Newark or JFK for New York, or Haneda or Narita for Tokyo, return results for the city, not the specific airport. States and Provinces work inconsistently. Asking for flights to Hawaii or California return specific flight results, though asking for flights to Colorado or Nova Scotia return search results. However, asking for flights to Denver or Halifax correctly return flight results.

Alternatively, you can ask "How much is a flight to (place) in (time)?" This question can only be used to find prices for a given location, not for a specific flight number.

It is possible to search for flights by airline, though not every airline can be searched. In testing, it was possible to search by Delta, United, Solaseed, and Japan Airlines, though searching for ANA, Korean Air, and Peach were unsuccessful.

Searching for the next flight appears to be possible by asking "What is the next flight to (place)?" However, testing this feature often returned results between two weeks and one month in the future.

Additionally, checking schedules between cities is possible. For example, asking "What is the schedule of flights from Tokyo to Osaka" gives the answer "Nonstop flights from Tokyo to Osaka are about 1 hour and 15 minutes long. You can choose from 60 to 61 flights a day."

Once you start tracking flight information, you can receive updates about your selected flight through Google Now or email updates. While it isn't possible to complete checkout using only Google Home, flights you have asked about can appear as suggestions in Google Flights.

Looking up information about previously booked flights

With personal results enabled, you can ask about flights you have already booked. For your next booked flight, you can ask Google "When is my upcoming flight?" Additionally, you can specify by carrier or destination, such as asking "When is my next Delta flight," or "When is my next flight to Seattle?"

You can check if your flight is on time by asking "Is my flight on time?" Similarly, this can be filtered by carrier by asking "Is my British Airways flight delayed?"

SEE: Google Home: The smart person's guide (TechRepublic)

For those frequently on the go, it is also possible to check the status of multiple upcoming flights by asking "When are my upcoming flights?" Like previous questions, it can be filtered by carrier. Additionally, you can filter by month, asking "My flights in (month)."

What to do when you arrive

Google Assistant can also provide tips on what to do once you've arrived at your destination. By asking "Things to do in (place)," Google will list three major attractions.

For example, asking "Things to do in Brisbane" gives the answer "Attractions in Brisbane include Sea World Gold Coast, Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary, City Botanic Gardens and others."

What's your plan?

Do you use Google Home to manage your flights? Have you discovered a flight-tracking feature not covered in this article? Share your findings in the comments.

See also

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Image: Taylor Martin/CNET

About James Sanders

James Sanders is a Java programmer specializing in software as a service and thin client design, and virtualizing legacy programs for modern hardware.

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