Google Flights cleared for takeoff in UK and Europe

Google Flights has commenced its descent into Europe. Having been available in the US for the last 18 months, the popular price comparison tool now takes in flights departing from the UK, France, Italy, Spain, and the Netherlands.

Users can explore flight options, compare prices, and book travel to any international airport. Searches can be filtered by cost, airline, flight duration, or total travel time, with results and live ticket prices displayed in the local currency on an easy-to-navigate map (see image, top).

However, Google Flights has yet to agree terms with a number of major European airlines, prompting some observers to criticise the new service as incomplete.

The lack of top budget carriers Ryanair and easyJet is particularly noticeable , as they tend to provide the cheapest option for short-hop European trips. Lufthansa and Aer Lingus are also conspicuous by their absence

Google, however, said it was working to make the European version of Flight Search more inclusive.

"We are working to expand our relationship with other airlines, and bring Flight Search to more countries and in more languages," said Google travel product manager Noam Ben Haim in a blog post.

It will be interesting to see how Google's latest search tool fares, as the online flight comparison market is already densely populated - Flight Search will compete against the likes of Skyscanner, Travel Supermarket, and Expedia.

The last major update to Google Flights was in March 2012, when more than 500 international destinations were added.