Photo: Yanya/Shutterstock

Google Will Now Refund You if Your Flight Gets Cheaper

Technology + Gear News
by Suzie Dundas Aug 31, 2023

It’s no secret that travel has gotten expensive this year, with hotel prices up and the cost of flights way, way up.

Fortunately, there are three new Google travel features rolled out within search and Google Maps that can help you feel good about buying your next flight — and pay you back if the price goes down. The three new capabilities introduced below can help make it easier to book hotels, ensure you don’t overpay for flights, and find fun things to do without having to spend hours scrolling through blogs and tourism websites.

These are the three travel features you need to know about available through Google search and maps. The new features are rolling out to users across the US, so you may notice them pop up on your screen at any time — or you may already have access to all of them.

You get reimbursed if a flight gets cheaper

Google travel - goog flights photo

Google has long had several features that help buyers decide if they’re getting the best price. Photo: Google Flights

Now when you book through Google Flights, you get the peace of mind of knowing that you’ll get the cheapest price possible, even if you paid an above-average price. That’s because Google Flights now offers a “price guarantee.”

“For some flight prices, Google’s algorithms are confident that the price you find is the lowest available before the flight departs. After you book on Google, we’ll monitor the price until the first flight in your itinerary departs. If the price drops, we’ll make up the difference,” writes the FAQ page. And by “make up the difference,” Google means it’ll pay you back in Google Pay — so if you paid $400 and the flight drops to $200, you’ll get a $200 Google Pay credit. You’ll need to download the free Google Pay app and set up your account to get your credit.

If course, there are a few catches: the Google travel AI doesn’t isn’t confident enough to offer the guarantee for every flight, so depending on where you’re headed, you may or may not see the “Price Guarantee” option. Flights that are eligible will be marked with the “price guarantee” symbol, which looks like a rainbow-colored shield with a $ in it. Flights also need to start within the US, and the flight difference needs to be more than $5. You’re also capped at a maximum of $500 in reimbursements per year.

Searching for hotels on mobile is way easier

google travel - couple looking at phone

The new feature makes it easy to research and book hotels through Google without having to open multiple tabs and search for specific reviews. Photo: Kudla/Shutterstock

Before this new roll-out, if you wanted to book a hotel through Google, you had to search for something like “hotels in Chicago,” then pinch and zoom in on a map to see your options (or settle for the few options that Google suggested up front).

Now, when you search for hotels on your mobile phone, you’ll see a swipe-through gallery of photos on the top. Tap on any of them, and it opens up a full-screen experience, kind of like Google Stories. By swiping left and right, you can see hotel photos, visitor reviews, and a location map, or go directly to the hotel website. It’s an easier way to see the info you need to make a decision — like prices, room types, and reviews — in an easy-to-use, full-screen format.

You can also search a term like “best hotels in Asheville, NC,” and you’ll see tabs at the top for “deals,” as well as other useful tabs in case you want to only find hotels near that city’s top attractions or only hotels recommended for families. The “perspectives” tab is also very helpful: tapping it brings up a selection of reviews, blog posts, and articles about whatever search term you typed in.

Book activities and tickets through Google Maps

google flights new features travel - maps screenshot

Photo: Google Maps

Now, when you search for something to do in a given location — say, the Hollywood Walk of Fame, or even something as broad as activities in San Francisco — Google will show you not just the usual info, but some helpful extra tabs. Click on the destination after searching for it in Google Maps, and you’ll see tabs with reviews, photos, hours, and updates posted by the destination or attraction on social media.

But perhaps the most useful tab is “tickets,” which lets you go straight to buying a ticket through Google without having to find the attraction’s official webpage. It also lists bookable tours through private companies too, if applicable. It’a a timesaver, especially for destinations with webpages in other languages.

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