Whether you are traveling for leisure or for business, finding flight deals that won’t take a bite out of your wallet can be very challenging. Going through the many travel comparison websites just to find a good deal can be time-consuming, and the worst part is the prices keep fluctuating upwards. The reason why you may be unable to consistently pin down a good deal on flight prices is comparison websites usually track your location and serve you prices based on where you are browsing from and the demand rate in your specific location.
Flight comparison websites track your location using:
Cookies: Cookies track and store your browsing history, so comparison sites are able to detect when you query the search engines for the same search item several times and as such increase the price of available flights.
IP Address: Your IP address, also known as Internet Protocol, is arguably the easiest way travel sites are able to detect your location and therefore serve you different flight prices accordingly. (Read more about hiding your IP address here.)
Mobile tracking: The GPS feature on your mobile device, like your smartphone or tablet, can indicate your location. If you are browsing travel sites from your mobile device you will likely see different prices depending on your location.
HTML5 code: HTML5 coding is also another way websites can detect your location when using a personal computer.
Wi-Fi: If you give websites permission, they will be able to detect your location using your Wi-Fi.
When quoting air tickets, travel comparison sites consider your location, the currency you will pay with, the point of sale, and other factors. It is common for customers in different countries using different currencies to see different prices for the same airline, destination, and travel date. It goes without saying that if you are looking to save money on air tickets without wasting too much time sifting through the different sites for a good deal, your best bet is to simply hide your location and your browsing history using a VPN.
Here are some useful tips on how to use a VPN to save money on flight tickets.
Browse from a lower income country
Use a VPN to set your IP address to a lower income country and watch the price difference. For example, if you set your IP address to a server in India while browsing Kayak.com, you will see different prices than if you were booking your flight in the USA.
Since August is a big month for traveling, we decided to check out a flight from New York’s JFK Airport to Italy’s Naples Airport with a departure date set for August 14 and a return date of August 21.
With the IP address set to India this is the quote we saw:
When we changed the IP address to seem as though we were browsing from the USA, the prices were significantly different:
Even though the timing and the airlines are the same, the prices change. Sure, it’s not going to save you hundreds of dollars, but those $72 you save could be used for buying souvenirs or a dinner at a nice restaurant. Changing your location to a lower income country can make a big difference if you’re flying on a budget.
Change your IP to the airline’s country
You could also try to change your IP to the country where the airline is based. In this case, we’re traveling using Brussels Airlines, which is based in Belgium. Changing to a Belgian IP address for the same journey will show a different price.
IP address set from Belgium:
IP address set from the USA:
In this scenario, that same flight saved us $67! Again, it’s not tons of money, but these little savings can really add up. Changing your IP address to the airline’s country could save you lots of money in the long run.
Alternative Ways of Saving Money on Air Tickets
Clear your browsing history
As mentioned earlier, travel sites are able to track your location and browsing behavior based on browser cookies and adjust prices upward accordingly. Clearing your cookies and browsing data can help reset prices, allowing you to see the initial flight tickets. However, there is no guarantee that you will be able to secure cheaper prices as if you were browsing anonymously using a VPN. Some travelers say that browsing the international version of a travel site e.g. (.ca) for Canada or (.co.uk) for Britain could let you see different price quotes for air tickets, so you might be lucky to spot a good bargain.
Search Prices by Date Using Google Flights
Google Flights offers numerous perks for the budget conscious traveler. One of these perks is the ability to choose prices based on dates. If you already have a destination, you will need to choose specific dates to and from your destination. Google Flights can help you find the cheapest day to fly by listing the price in each day. This tool is especially useful if your travel dates are flexible.
Choose Your Travel Days and Time Carefully
According to Rick Seaney, founder of airline ticket comparison site farecompare.com, booking air tickets for trans-Atlantic flights from Monday through Thursday can save you up to 5 percent on costs compared to flying Friday through Sunday.
Tuesday at 3 p.m. is known as the golden time because this is when you can get the highest number of cheap seats, but these are usually available for about three days before they are all scooped up. How does this work? The fare sales departments at airlines set up sales for the week on Monday afternoons and distribute these sales on their own site and to travel sites such as Kayak.com. Competing airlines are able to see these sales on Tuesday morning and adjust their own fares so the final fares are available by 3 p.m. Eastern Standard Time. Additionally, you could make significant savings flying off-peak between 5 a.m. and 7 a.m. or book flights for after 8 p.m.
Mix and Match Flights
If you have all the time but are more concerned about saving money, consider playing around with your flight choices. For example, you could opt for a flight with a stopover; these are often far cheaper regardless of your destination. Also, you could make considerable savings by flying out and back in from different airports or with different airlines.
Is it legal?
If you are worried about the legality of using a VPN to book flights, you can rest assured that travel sites and airlines do not have a problem with this. These sites do in fact quote different prices for customers in different geographical locations, and browsing anonymously using a VPN can help you take advantage of these differences and in turn make significant savings.