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Just ahead of the busy summer travel season, Google Flights announced that it’s testing out a new program that will put “price guarantee badges” on flights when the search engine’s algorithm is confident the airfare costs won’t get any lower before takeoff. Google will then track the price, and if it goes down, will refund the difference via Google Pay.
Airfare can be fickle, with prices rising and dropping frequently, even over the course of a day, making it difficult to know when’s the best time to buy.
“No one likes to feel buyer’s remorse, and that’s especially true for a big purchase like plane tickets where the prices change from day to day,” the Google announcement says. “We’ve all thought to ourselves: Should I book now in case the price goes up tomorrow? Or should I wait in case there’s a better deal next week?”
According to the terms of Google’s price guarantee program, the search engine will pay you back the price difference if it’s greater than $5. You can receive up to $500 total back per calendar year, and customers are eligible for up to three price guaranteed bookings at any one time.
The pilot program is only guaranteeing prices for “Book on Google” itineraries that leave from the U.S. — so you have to book through Google Flights. And if you get a refund, it will only be paid out via Google Pay.
Google Flights already shows whether current prices are considered low, typical or high compared to historical averages. But Google’s new price guarantee comes at a time when travel costs, especially airfares, are rising.
The overall cost of travel has risen 11% over the past year, which is more than the U.S. inflation rate of 6%, according to NerdWallet’s latest Travel Price Index data. A breakdown of their travel data also reveals that airfare has been hit harder by inflation than other travel expenses: Restaurant and hotel costs are up 7% and 8% respectively, but airfare has increased by 26% year over year.
Despite this surge in pricing, approximately 85% of Americans still have plans to travel this summer compared to 80% last summer, according to a new survey from The Vacationer.
Google is also debuting a new way to search for hotels this week that takes a page from dating apps with a swipeable format. If you search for something like “Soho London hotels” and tap to view more, you’ll find a new option to explore each property in a swipeable story format.
With a single tap, you can also save the hotel, pull up more details about the area, or view a summary of what people find notable about the property. Then, swipe up to continue browsing hotels.
Are you planning to travel this summer?