Whether you are going on a business trip or vacation, saving money on airline tickets is something you would probably like to do more often. Flights can be extremely expensive, and depending on travel frequency and location, they can range anywhere between a few thousand dollars up to tens of thousands of dollars per year.
One of the reasons why people have no choice when buying flight tickets is because of price discrimination, but there are also many other factors. For example, the price of an airplane ticket that was only $100 the first time you checked it doubled when you looked it up next time.
Another instance would be if you live in the UK and find out that you are being charged more for your flight than someone living in Eastern Europe. And there are numerous other tricks that airlines play on their customers to earn more money.
However, some of those customers are very smart. Luckily, they have come up with quite a few ways to find cheaper flights, including using a VPN. If you are a travel addict, you will love this article and all the tips you will find in it.
But first, let us explain all the tricks used by airlines to charge higher prices for their flights.
How do airline companies trick you into paying more?
In 2018, airline revenue management company PROS confirmed that many airlines used dynamic pricing. Dynamic pricing uses customer accounts, user location, previous flight information, shopping trends, and more, to create personalized flight prices that differ from user to user.
The airlines that work with PROS include:
- Virgin Atlantic
Nowadays, airlines have as many as 26 fare classes. And to make the matter even more complicated, airlines can update the prices for every fare class four times a day for domestic flights and hourly for international flights.
User profiling has been around for a long time. For example, a flight from London to Ibiza is primarily targeted at those looking to go on vacation. Now, since airlines know that demand can dramatically increase during holidays, they use this to their advantage and charge these flights more.
However, they also understand that customers will try to find the best deals months in advance, so they keep the prices for those periods high in spite of current demand or the number of available seats at the moment of booking.
How do they do it?
Airline companies use numerous methods to track your searches and find out everything they can about your travel plans.
- Mobile tracking – your smartphone comes with a GPS feature that pinpoints your location. Because of this, you will most likely see prices unique to your location thinking that everyone else is offered the same prices
- Cookies – not only do airline websites and flight search engines track your browsing history, but they also store it. Comparison websites like Kayak or Momondo then use it to find the queries you have made before in order to increase the price of available flights and thus evoke a sense of urgency in you and make you pay more
- IP address – this is one of the easiest ways for an airline to detect your location and show you prices based on it. Your IP address is like your online ID and tracking an IP address is actually much easier than you may suppose
When flight comparison websites show airline tickets, they consider a few different factors. They include, but are not limited to:
- point of sale
In other words, this means that individuals from different countries or those who use different currencies see different prices for the same travel destination, date, or airline.
How to use a VPN to check for flights
Using a VPN to explore cheaper flight options has recently become really popular, and for good reasons. It is effective and rather simple. Here is how you can do it:
Find an efficient VPN
First, you will need to find a high-quality VPN service. However, this is not as easy as it sounds, since there are a number of providers who overlook the quality of their VPNs. In a word, if you want to find great flight deals but also be safe online, your VPN must be fast, reliable, and most importantly – secure.
Clear your cookies and cache
Airline websites are very smart. So, if you think that using a VPN alone is enough to find better deals, you won’t get far. Before starting your VPN browsing session, delete your cache and cookies to prevent the flight search website from seeing your location and the fact that you have already visited the same website before. Otherwise, all your efforts will be in vain.
Incognito browsing sessions are beneficial for the same reason. They prevent the airline website from tracking your online fingerprints.
Use a website that matches your displayed location
There are a number of websites that allow users to find cheaper flights. Some of them include Expedia, Kayak, and Priceline. However, bear in mind that you should use the version of the website that matches the location of the VPN server you are browsing from rather than your real location.
So, if you are browsing from Spain for example, make sure to browse from kayak.es.
Experiment with different scenarios
Try logging in from different locations and experiment with various routes. Two countries which have some of the cheapest airfares are Argentina and Russia, so logging from there can help you find better deals. But don’t forget to try out other locations as well.
Continue using all other methods to find cheap flights
Now, you may think that just because you use a VPN, you don’t have to apply usual tips and tricks. For instance, airline tickets are often the cheapest around six to eight weeks before the flight. So, why not use a VPN six to eight weeks before your travel to increase your chances of finding even cheaper tickets?
Is it legal to use a VPN to find cheaper flights?
Yes, it is. To our knowledge, there are no international laws that specifically state you cannot use a VPN to bypass dynamic pricing. After all, if there were justice, there would be no price discrimination in the first place.
Hypothetically, though, it would only be illegal to utilize a VPN service in countries where laws outright state that VPN usage is illegal. Some of the countries that ban VPN usage include:
- North Korea
China, Russia, Iran, and Oman only allow government-approved VPN usage, and the UAE doesn’t allow VPNs to be used by individuals.
Alternative ways to find cheaper flights
Besides using a VPN, there are various alternative ways to find cheap flights on the internet.
Clearing your browsing history
As it was mentioned earlier, travel websites track your browsing behavior based on cookies and adjust prices accordingly. Clearing your cookies and browsing data can help you ‘reset’ those prices and find them at the initial rates. However, there is no guarantee that this method will get you as low prices as if you were browsing anonymously through a VPN.
Use Google Flights to search for prices by date
Google Flights offers various perks to people looking to save on flights. One of them is the ability to choose prices based on dates. Based on your destination, you will need to choose the precise dates of your stay. Google Flights will then help you to find the cheapest ticket by listing the price for every day within the period you specified.
Look for tickets on specific days
Booking airline tickets for transatlantic flights – but not only for them – from Monday through Thursday can possibly save you up quite a lot of money compared to flying on weekends.
How is this possible? The airlines’ sales departments create offers for the upcoming week on Monday afternoon and upload them on their own websites as well as share them with travel sites. Competitor companies are able to view these offers on Tuesday morning and adjust their own fares, so these few days are the best time to look for flight tickets.
Combine and match flights
If you do have time but no money to waste, consider experimenting with your flight options. For instance, you can choose a flight with a stopover; this is often less expensive regardless of your destination. Additionally, you can make significant savings when you fly out and back in from different airports or with different airlines.