Looks like John "The Search" Battelle has caught yet another Google onebox on web search results pages. This new (I haven't noticed it before) feature offers direct links to several travel databases (Expedia, Travelocity, and Orbitz) when you enter in city pairs. Say Seattle and Boston.
It also works for non-US destinations. However, if you want to go from Portland, Maine to Phoenix, this feature will not work for you. You get no option to change from Portland, Oregon to Maine. The default travel database is to Expedia which is owned by IAC/InterActive that also owns Ask.com. Interesting. I wonder when Ask will turn this idea into a Smart Search. Maybe they have it now but I can't seem to find it. Also, another revenue stream for Google. Travel services and Google have always seemed to make sense to me. Heck, maybe my April Fools day post about Google Jet will soon become a reality. (-: Of course, we know it's no joke that Google has purchased a 767. Finally, JB I'm right with you friend about the comments you open your post with.