Here's how to get money back on your airfare if prices change before takeoff

It’s infuriating: You can shop around for deals, use fare-predictor apps, sign up for price-change notifications, and still see the cost of your flight decrease after you’ve already booked. 

Woman with credit card and tablet
Before you whip out the credit card, look for a price that's guaranteed not to drop before your departure. Image by Tim Robberts/Getty Images

Figuring out when to hit the buy button can feel a bit like reading the tea leaves, but Google Flights is so sure its new tracking feature will get it right that it’s offering a guarantee on select itineraries booked during the next few weeks—and a refund if the price drops. 

Here’s how it works. When Google’s algorithms forecast that a fare won’t go any lower, those particular flight options get tagged with a badge you see when you’re shopping; once you buy, the fare is monitored until take-off, and if it drops more than $5 before you leave the ground, the difference will be credited back to your account automatically, up to $500. 

family trip planning
For the next few weeks, the price guarantee from Google Flights takes the guesswork out of the booking process. Image by Jacobs Stock Photography Ltd/Getty Images

The feature is only available on certain routes departing the US for points both domestic and international, booked from now through September 2 for travel completed by November 24. Outside of those dates, though, you still have a few tools at your disposal. Google Flights shows insights into your itinerary while you browse, noting how prices have recently changed and whether they're historically high, low, or typical; you can also elect to receive price-prediction emails to help you decide when to purchase

After you take the plunge, you can also register your flights with a site like Yapta to track price changes and set up alerts for any refunds you might be owed from the airlines themselves. Price changes usually need to exceed any rebooking fees the carrier might charge, though, so you’ll only be eligible for a voucher or a credit if there’s a substantial drop. 

For more on the price guarantee, visit Google’s travel help center