Notice that airfare prices change when you shop online? It is no coincidence that the price of the plane ticket you are interested in increases each time you go to check if it has changed. This is the magic of dynamic pricing on the web.
IP tracking, you know?
This is partly responsible for price variations on the internet, a practice commonly called “dynamic pricing”.
You can notice it on sites like Amazon, hotel sites, but especially when shopping for plane tickets. Unsurprisingly, this variation is mostly on the upside.
By remembering our IP address and/or using cookies, some websites detect that this is not our first search on the subject and adjust their prices accordingly.
This strategy aims to encourage us to make the purchase more quickly in view of the rising prices.
However, there are a few tricks to circumvent IP tracking and dynamic pricing by making the site believe that this is our first visit! Here are 5 tips about it.
1- Log out of your accounts
The first thing to do when shopping for our plane tickets is to make sure we are not logged into one of our accounts.
When we talk about an account, we are talking in particular about Expedia, for example, Air Canada or any other travel service for which we could be subscribed and connected.
By staying logged in, these sites are able to know whether we have visited them recently or not.
Also, if you’re using the Chrome browser and signed in to your Google account, sign out. Again, Google knows our shopping habits on its browser and can transmit this information to travel sites.
It goes so far, that it can even know if we are the type to buy on mobile or on computer and thus adjust the prices accordingly to the device we use.
In short, log in as needed only when making the purchase. Otherwise, the next tricks will be completely ineffective.
2- Book tickets elsewhere than at home
Our IP address is not only linked to our computer, all devices connected to our internet network have the same public IP address, whether we are talking about our laptop, tablet or smartphone.
By going to a friend’s, family member’s or the office to purchase our plane tickets, we ensure that we pass for a new customer who is looking for a ticket for the first time.
Trap to avoid: Although the 4G or LTE connection of our smartphone does not use the same IP address as our wireless network, it is not recommended to use it for an online purchase as it is not secure and such a purchase involves the transmission of sensitive data. The problem is the same if we use the public Wi-Fi connection like at the local café for example.
3- Use a VPN to hide your IP address
Ever browsed a travel site and looked for plane tickets? Your IP address has therefore been exposed.
Fortunately, there is a way to start from scratch, and that is by using a VPN.
In addition to securing our internet connection, the VPN will encrypt and hide our IP address from the sites we visit. They can therefore no longer identify us and adjust the prices accordingly to our last visits.
Read my column on which VPN to choose: our opinions and comparisons of the best VPNs
4- Use the private browsing of your web browser
A private browsing page not only allows you not to save cookies on your web browser, but also not to save the sites you consult in your browsing history.
5- Clear your browsing history and cache
It’s a bit the same principle as our 4th tip. If we have consulted a travel site without using protection to hide our browsing, our visits are recorded in our browsing history and what is called the cache.
The cache memory is a memory that stores information during our web browsing. This is where, among other things, our searches and the cookies on the browser will end up.
Clearing its cache erases any evidence that we have ever visited a site.
We did the test ourselves!
We did a test on the Expedia site for a Montreal-Honolulu return flight. On our first search, we used the Chrome browser and the cheapest ticket was priced at $1513.58.
A few minutes later, we performed the same search, but this time with the Mozilla Firefox browser. Result: the same flight that was offered to us a few minutes ago at $1513.58 was now at $1516.58.
Three dollars difference in such a short time. A price difference that may seem trivial at the start of research, but which, over time, can become more significant.
We then redid the same search using private browsing (still with Mozilla Firefox) and the price came back to the original price of $1,513.58.
We were also surprised to find that by indicating that we would need 2 return tickets rather than 1, the unit price also increased considerably, going from $1513.58 to $1705.08. However, this difference disappeared later in the day…
This also proves that it is not just IP tracking that makes the price of plane tickets fluctuate; there are many factors like demand and time of year.
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5 tips and tricks to pay less for plane tickets on the web