Priceline is making an intriguing offer for travelers this summer — guaranteed sunshine! “If your vacation is rained out, it’s free!”
Of course, the devil is in the details:
1. You must buy a vacation (hotel, airfare), not just airfare.
2. Sunshine is not guaranteed. If it is cloudy every day, no refund is due.
3. The big string is the amount of rain necessary to trigger a full refund: it must rain at least 1/2 inch for at least half the days of your trip. For a five day trip, it has to rain on three of the days. For an eight day trip, it has to rain on four of the days. Again, at least 1/2 inch of rain on EACH of the rainy days is required.
How likely is it that you will have so many days of heavy rain on your vacation? Of course, it depends on the location you choose (only US destinations qualify). Checking to see how much actual rain different cities get per day, suggests you are unlikely to ever trigger a refund under Priceline’s guarantee. For example, in June 2008, in the Seattle area — a region known for being wet — there was more than a half inch of rain only on one day that month. [See chart]
In Ft. Lauderdale in June, it was quite rainy. But in a stretch of 10 days when it rained every day, only two non-consecutive days qualified. [See chart]
On the positive side, Priceline’s “no rain” guarantee is free. And your refund will be automatic if your trip meets the bad weather criteria it has set.
Bottomline: don’t count on a free trip.