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Google Flights launches 'Price Guarantee' program, will refund the difference if ticket...

By Polycount · 8 replies
Aug 8, 2019
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  1. Whether you're buying video games, movies, or any number of other products throughout the internet, there's always a chance said item will go on sale (or simply have its price reduced) shortly after purchase. This can be frustrating to deal with, especially if you paid full price for the product in question -- buying a $60 game only to see it cost $20 hours later never feels good.

    This problem is even worse in the plane ticket market, where prices can shift by the hundreds of dollars at the drop of a hat. Fortunately, if you use Google Flights to plan and purchase tickets for your trips, the site will have your back over the next month or so. Among numerous other travel-oriented improvements Google is making to the service, Flights will now offer a "Price Guarantee."

    In short, this means that if you book a flight and the ticket price lowers unexpectedly at any point before launch, you can request a refund for the difference. The "unexpected" part is important: Google will only refund a ticket if the price drop goes against what they've predicted (another new AI-powered feature being added to Flights). Regardless, the difference must be more than $5 and the maximum amount you can get back is $500.

    ...if you book a flight based on Google's predicted prices [and] the price lowers at any point before launch, you can request a refund for the difference.

    There is a slight catch, though: according to Google, the payout will not be automatic. You'll need to submit a "payout request" to Google, which may require you to provide "additional information" to the tech giant for the purposes of determining your eligibility. Google does not explain how this request should be submitted.

    The way Google has worded its Price Guarantee announcement blog post is a bit confusing. The company implies the Guarantee will only apply to flights booked between August 13 and September 2, and the Price Guarantee's Help article echoes that claim.

    However, the program's Terms & Conditions page says the "Price Guarantee Window" is August 12 through November 24 -- perhaps that applies to a flight's take-off date, and not necessarily its booking date?

    Regardless, the bottom line is, if you book a flight anytime in the next several weeks (but perhaps longer), you won't need to worry about buyer's remorse if the ticket prices suddenly drop.

    Permalink to story.

  2. gusticles41

    gusticles41 TS Evangelist Posts: 433   +509

    This...is pretty awesome. Barring restrictions.
    Last edited: Aug 8, 2019
    wiyosaya likes this.
  3. wiyosaya

    wiyosaya TS Evangelist Posts: 4,118   +2,406

    At least, on the surface anyway.

    However, having to request a refund if the price drops makes it less appealing to me. This implies that you have to monitor the ticket price yourself. If gagme were to monitor those prices and give an automatic refund, it might be worth it for a staunch gagme hater like me to let them sell my data, but once again, the customer has to work for gagme with this, I.e., by letting them sell your data, and, in a sense, by having to monitor ticket prices.
    gusticles41 likes this.
  4. brucek

    brucek TS Maniac Posts: 191   +217

    Sounds too good to be true to me.

    I don't see how this is any more viable at scale than a stock trading service that guarantees stocks won't fall. The reality is stocks do fall, just like airlines change ticket prices, and occasionally get into full blown price wars on specific routes. Of course I'd want to believe in the service, but you'd know by definition the economics just don't make sense.

    I wonder if Google found a reputable third party insurer to underwrite this risk (which would add some validity), or if they are white knuckling it, maybe hoping their luck holds on a one time basis for a narrow date range in the immediate future.
    wiyosaya likes this.
  5. wiyosaya

    wiyosaya TS Evangelist Posts: 4,118   +2,406

    Anyone else notice that the picture for this article is a mirrored image?
    pawel04 and Gmachine like this.
  6. Godel

    Godel TS Addict Posts: 179   +91

    The fact that you'll have to keep tabs on prices and put in a request for reimbursement yourself will mean most people won't be bothered to do so, so little expense for Google while providing a good marketing gimmick.

    Are you kidding? I'll bet Google's net worth and cash reserves exceed just about every insurance company out there. If they finding themselves spending lots of money then they'll just cancel the scheme like many of their past projects.
  7. brucek

    brucek TS Maniac Posts: 191   +217

    Yes, but that's not why large companies buy insurance (or use options, or other financial instruments to hedge risks.) For the most part they (and especially their investors) expect a steady, predictable, as low-risk operation as possible. Much better to pay a known, negotiated up-front, cost for whatever the risk is, than have it be a surprise later.

    The insurance companies, in turn, can better take the risks because they are building a pool of thousands (or millions) of them. There's no way to predict what will happen with a single die roll; but you can be much surer what the average of one million die rolls will be.
  8. PEnnn

    PEnnn TS Addict Posts: 118   +104

    Sounds good till you read the Terms and Conditions, and the "slight Catch" and the fine print and the time exclusions...

    JetBlue has been doing that for a long time, without Google's tricks. And no fees (other airlines charge fees for this)

    You can use a website (Yapta.com) to alert you if the price drops. The only thing is that Jetblue gives you credit towards future tickets, but no refunds (not sure if this has changed, I have been flying way less the last couple of years.)
    wiyosaya likes this.
  9. SantistaUSA

    SantistaUSA TS Addict Posts: 111   +30

    I see some people complaining here, I guess you guys don't buy airplane tickets very often or never paid attention to the prices.

    I travel internationally once, twice a year and prices can vary a lot so and for the most part you are stuck with the ticket after 24 hours of purchasing it so have this offer from Google is great in my opinion!

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