offering a price guarantee on flights that gives consumers a refund if the airfare
purchased drops before departure.
pilot program is available on select itineraries where the company says its “algorithms
are confident that the price you find is the lowest available before the flight
departs.” In a limited scan on the site, it appears the guarantee is currently offered only on some flights from Spirit Airlines and Alaska Airlines for bookings made directly with the airlines through Google.
August 2019, Google ran a similar pilot, initially for flights booked for
travel within a two-week period from mid-August until early September. The
company says it paused that pilot due to the COVID outbreak, but it is now
exploring whether it can offer price guarantees on a longer-term basis.
When asked for more details about the program, a Google spokesperson says, “We’re currently testing price guarantees in the U.S. as part of our broader goal to help travelers feel confident they’ve booked the best price for their trip.” A formal announcement about the pilot is expected next month.
many airlines such as American, Delta and JetBlue have eliminated fees for
changes or cancellations in most fare classes – in effect enabling a consumer
to re-book a trip if they find a lower fare – those policies require the traveler
to monitor the fare and initiate the change. And refunds are given in the form
of future flight credits.
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case of Google, the company automatically monitors the price for any fare designated
with a “price drop guarantee” symbol, until the first flight of an itinerary
If at any time in that period the fare drops at least $5, Google pays the
difference back to the consumer in Google Pay, where it can be used to make purchases
online, to transfer to another Google Pay user or to transfer out to a bank
account. Google says refunds are typically issued within 48 hours after takeoff
of the first flight.
to the terms of the program, travelers can receive up to $500 back total per
calendar year for up to three price guaranteed bookings at any one time, and
the guarantee applies only to flights that depart from the United States,
booked with a U.S. address and phone number.
price guarantee product is similar to what Hopper is offering through its B2B
product, Hopper Cloud. Currently its partner Capital One Travel offers the
guarantee, but it's not identical to what Google is testing.
According to the terms of Capital One Travel, free price drop protection is
automatically added to flights it designates as “buy now.” Capital One Travel
then monitors fares for that exact itinerary for 10 calendar days after
purchases and, if the fare drops, the traveler receives the difference up to a
maximum of $50 in the form of a Capital One Travel credit.
In September Google announced it was shutting down Book on Google for flights for users outside the U.S. at the end of that month and for U.S. users on or after March 31, but the company says it is exploring options to offer price guarantees without Book on Google.
PhocusWire will update this story as more
information becomes available.