Google Flights is one of the most useful tools out there for researching airfare. They make it really easy to compare airfare across airlines, and also offer useful features like price tracking, and they’ll even tell you if they forecast that the fare will go up or down.
As of now they’re primarily an airfare aggregator. That’s to say that they often even give you the option of booking through an airline after they display a fare for you, so they’re not a full-on online travel agency.
I would imagine their long term goal is to better monetize the service, though for now they seem focused on exploring options and gaining market share.
Well, Google Flights is about to get even cooler, at least for a limited period, as they’re putting their money where their mouth is when it comes to predicting airfare.
For a limited period, Google will be offering a price guarantee for flights. As they describe this:
Price guarantee is part of Book on Google within Google Flights. For some flight prices, Google’s algorithms are confident that the price you’re seeing is the lowest available before the flight departs. After you book on Google, we’ll keep monitoring the price until take-off, and if it drops, you’ll automatically get the difference back.
This will be valid for flights booked between August 13 and September 2, 2019, and is valid for travel through November 24, 2019. Here’s how this will work:
- Only fares that show the price guarantee badge will be eligible for this, as these are cases where Google is confident that the fare won’t drop
- In the event that the price drops for your flight, you’ll receive an email letting you know, and you’ll be able to claim the difference back, which will be deposited in your bank account
- To receive money back the price difference has to be at least $5, and you can receive up to $500 back across as many itineraries as that allows
Back in the day airlines would offer their own price match guarantees as a way to make consumers confident in booking. Over the years they’ve eliminated that one-by-one, especially as they get more aggressive with last minute pricing. The exception is Southwest, which doesn’t have change or cancelation fees.
I’ll be very curious to see what Google’s long term play is here. I imagine that will depend on how much this costs them, and also how much of an increase of bookings and searches they see through their service.