In a bid to offer a seamless and more reassuring flight booking experience to its users, Google launched the Google Flight Price Guarantee in April 2023. The feature, designed to shield flyers from fluctuations in flight prices, was first announced in Google’s official press release and is set to build on the functionality within Google Flights.
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Google Flight Price Guarantee Explained
According to the details provided on Google’s support page, the Google Flight Price Guarantee promises to refund the difference if the price of your flight ticket drops after booking. This guarantee applies to one-way and round-trip flights departing from the United States, provided you are booking using a US billing address and phone number, and your account settings are US-based.
Not all flights qualify for this guarantee however, only flights that the Google algorithm is “confident” won’t have a price drop are marked with a colourful price badge, indicating eligibility for the Price Guarantee. If the price of such a flight drops after you book and before the first flight of your itinerary departs, you stand to receive a refund. This refund is typically credited to your Google Pay account within 48 hours after takeoff of your first flight.
Interestingly, this isn’t Google’s first venture into price guarantees. The company briefly trialled this feature in 2019 before the pandemic brought it to a halt. The relaunch of this feature could prove to be a game-changer for budget-conscious travellers and marks Google’s continued efforts to revolutionize the travel booking experience.
Google vs. The Competition
Other booking platforms, such as Orbitz, also offer some form of price guarantee. However, these often require the customer to find the cheaper fare themselves and alert the website to it within a short window of time, typically 24 hours after booking. Google Flights’ guarantee, on the other hand, is valid right up until the departure date, making it potentially more beneficial for the customer.
It’s essential to understand that, despite the convenience offered by the Google Flight Price Guarantee, Google is not acting as an online travel agency. The booking is still made directly with the airline, and there’s potential for a travel agent to offer a cheaper fare. The guarantee is simply a feature added by Google to enhance customer experience.
Eligibility and Conditions of the Google Flight Price Guarantee
Before availing of the Google Flight Price Guarantee, it’s crucial to ensure you meet the specific criteria. These include:
- Your Google account country/region setting must be set to the US, and your currency must be in USD to view and avail of guaranteed flights.
- The Price Guarantee only applies to one-way and round-trip flights that depart from the United States.
- Your booking must be completed on the ‘Book on Google’ page using a US billing address and US phone number.
- You need to be signed in to your Google Account.
Terms, Practical Application, and Limitations of Google Flight Price Guarantee
While the Google Flight Price Guarantee does offer certain advantages, there are key terms and conditions that need to be considered. For instance, the price difference must be more than $5, and the maximum refund amount is capped at $500 per person per calendar year. Additionally, the guarantee doesn’t apply if your flight gets cancelled or rescheduled.
There have been reports of fewer flights being protected by Google’s new price guarantee than one might hope for, and the guarantee does not extend to flights departing more than 60 days from the booking date. In fact, Google declined to share data regarding the number of flights protected by the price guarantee.
In summary, Google Flight Price Guarantee could be a valuable tool for travellers looking for added peace of mind when booking their flights. While it has certain limitations and isn’t applicable to all flights, when it does apply, it could potentially save you some money. As always, it’s crucial for travellers to read the fine print and fully understand the terms and conditions before relying on such guarantees.