I was never a fan of Google flights. Yesterday a friend told me to give it another shot. I went there and I got hooked.
The new experience is much faster and more dynamic. The work done on the front end is great.
The most impressive for me is how fast the results load if you change something in the search. For example when you add another passenger, Google can’t just multiply the price * 2 as they have to ensure the flight still has a seat for the passenger you just added. This requires a new API request to the providers asking them for the new search results, which is typically slow. Same applies to any other change like dates or airports.
It seems this speed is driven by caching results on their end, however cache is not reliable as it may happen that the trip is no longer there, or the price went up by the time users click on the flight to book it. I don’t know what else they are doing to make it this fast while staying reliable.
Another reason for this speed is caused by only searching the airlines themselves and not other 3rd party websites. SkyScanner always gets stuck trying to retrieve the data from that one slow provider. This also reduces complexity on the front end as Google doesn’t have to show the same flight multiple times by multiple providers.
Overall it seems that you can provide a superior experience by building insanely faster horses, even if you don’t have the all the options, nor the most accurate prices.