You’re not crazy for thinking that a flight price has changed after searching it a few times. Based on the cookies in your browser (little bits of data websites can track), flight prices do increase when a particular route is repeatedly searched as the site wants to scare you into booking the trip quickly before prices get even higher. Increasing your urgency to buy, punishing you for trying to get a good deal. In this section, I will teach you how to stop it happening to you.
Why does this happen?
But what is a cookie?
A cookie is a small file that is downloaded from a site when you visit it. Cookies are typically used to manage items in your shopping cart, personalise your experience by offering relevant content, and track the pages visited over time.
Generally speaking, this isn’t a big deal.
Cookies improve the customer experience on most sites. Prices on most sites are static. They won’t change regardless of how often you check them.
But airfares are different.
How Airlines Abuse Your Search History
When you search a particular route, the cookie stores the details. It also remembers the dates and number of passengers. What this means is that their server can see if a particular route is in high demand (by you). When something is in demand, the price will increase.
We’ve run tests on tickets that we eventually purchased, and it remained true almost each time:
Ticket Warning: The more you search a route, the more the price increases.
Don’t let inflated ticket prices keep you from traveling or make you pay over the odds.
Little bits of data airlines and comparison sites use to push up the price? Don’t believe it?
See our little experiment:
After a couple of days checking prices we are offered this price, that kept rising:
If you’re using:
- Google Chrome or Safari, Incognito is enabled by hitting Command (or “Control” if using PC), Shift, “N”. Note: if you’re using an older version of OS X, open Safari then select “Safari” in the menu bar, and select “Private Browsing”.
- Mozilla Firefox or Internet Explorer, hit Command (or “Control” if using a PC), Shift, “P”. This will open a new browser window where your information is not tracked, thus not inflating prices as you search.
Your cookies are reset each time you re-open an incognito window. So if you want to start with a clean slate for each flight search (so your previous searches aren’t “remembered”, potentially inflating costs), close all your incognito windows, open a new one, and then perform your flight search.
Our Top Pick Flight Comparison Sites For You
All allow you to search by flight class and include travel brokers, charter airlines, and budget airlines. We argue about what is “the best” comparison site, so here’s our top 3.
- Kayak for range, speed & filtering. It allows you to filter options based on credit/debit card fees and whether or not you want to check in bags so you can compare costs more accurately. It also looks for the cheapest inbound and outbound flights and doesn’t automatically pair both legs with the same airline to maximise savings both ways!
- Skyscanner for the very cheapest time to fly. Skyscanner gives you fare options spread over a month to find exactly when’s cheapest. It has particularly strong coverage of budget flights, searching over 1,000 airlines in total. Pretty impressive right?
- Momondo for flight data. Momondo is a metadata search engine and works similarly to the likes of Skyscanner. However, its standout feature is the ‘Flight Insight’ data it gives you on some routes. It helps pinpoint when they recommend to book, which day to fly and even which airport’s cheapest for that specific flight.