Google has been tracking flight prices for a considerable period so now it is backing up its data with real money. It's real money, but a pittance for Google.
Book on Google, which is slated to be retired, continues to be useful to the company now that Google revived a pre-pandemic test and is offering a flight price guarantee on a limited number of U.S. routes.
“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 Google spokesperson said in a statement.
The flight price guarantee for certain flights on Spirit and Alaska Airlines, for example, has Google refunding a price drop under certain conditions from $5 up to a maximum of $500 within the calendar year if the airfare fell before departure and if booked with Google, according to published reports.
Here’s precisely how it works.
At this point, Google wouldn’t know if the flyer actually booked the flight unless it was booked on Google on behalf of the airline. At this point, Google doesn’t have any visibility into flights booked on Alaska.com or Expedia.com, for example.
Google phased out Book on Google last September in most countries outside the U.S. for lack of traction by consumers, but had announced in August that the feature would persist in the U.S. until March 31 or after. It also eliminated Book on Google for hotels.
Book on Google will certainly be alive in April — but it likely won’t live to see 2024.
Google doesn’t handle airline money as it serves as a middleman when it processes flights on behalf of partners on Google. Google is funding the refunds to travelers on its own.
Google is currently testing the flight price guarantee and it remains to be seen whether it would move ahead with and/or expand the program to other airlines and additional geographies.
The company is mulling whether to keep the flight price guarantee on a longer-term basis, and how it might work once Book on Google gets terminated.
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Photo credit: Google is offering a flight price guarantee on certain Alaska Airlines (foreground) routes. Alaska Airlines