- Google has updated its site and its apps to help travelers make informed decisions about their upcoming trips in light of the coronavirus pandemic.
- Countless people have had to cancel their travel plans due to the novel coronavirus, but with Google’s latest changes, it should be easier to make the necessary changes.
- Many airlines have made significant adjustments to their cancellation policies and change fees due to the coronavirus, and Google has put up a new Help Center page that will link you directly to the policy pages of dozens of airlines.
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There are clearly more pressing concerns at the moment than canceling or rescheduling travel plans that were made prior to the World Health Organization declaring the novel coronavirus outbreak a pandemic, but that does not change the fact that countless individuals (myself included) need to change their plans in the coming days. Furthermore, there are still people who need to travel as well, even in the midst of a deadly, worldwide pandemic.
On Tuesday, Google announced a series of changes to help alleviate some of the stress that will inevitably come with attempting to make or change travel plans through its site. Going forward, if you search for information about a flight, a hotel, or things to do at various destinations on Google, you will see COVID-19 travel advisories or restrictions for those locations, along with links to relevant details from your country’s travel authority.
Google will put the information on the search results page, at the top of google.com/travel, and in Google Maps when you search for hotels. Here’s what the new COVID-19 alert will look like on mobile search:
If you had a flight scheduled for any time in the next few months, chances are that you’ve received an email from the airline about adjustments to change fees or cancellation policies. From now on, if you search for a flight with a specific airline or visit Google Flights, you will be directed to a Help Center article that contains dozens of links to policy pages for a wide range of airlines. Be sure to check in right before you make any changes, because policies are fluid as the airlines adjust to the rules and regulations of the regions to which they travel.
The good news is that if the timing of your trip isn’t all that important, many airlines are offering some flexibility when it comes to canceling flights and rebooking them for a later date. Obviously, avoid any travel for the foreseeable future if possible, especially on a cramped airplane, but if you don’t have a choice, these new tools from Google should make the process of figuring out how to get where you need to go slightly less painful.