Tip For Buying Flights & Travel Online

27 June 2010


Bargainmooser Amanda has emailed me with a useful tip about booking travel arrangements online. I'll paste her words in here then have a chat about it:

I was listening to CBC yesterday, (it could have been friday, somedays the days blur together) and the presenter was talking about booking online, and said that they had found a deal (a trip to mexico I think) and went to check prices elsewhere, and when they went back to the original site (eventually) that the price had increased.

What apparently happens, is the website can read your "cookies" and know you have been researching, and put the price up!!!

Apparently if you clear your cookies, this doesn't happen.  Not a coupon, but useful info! Thanks for doing what you do, enjoy the witty comments too, yes, $78 for tea and crumpets is a BIT much.

I've booked travel online a few times, and sometimes the price has increased as I went through the checkout.

I am not sure if this is true though - that it checks your cookies and increases the prices accordingly - I don't see how it can be true as it would be an invasion of privacy. But it wouldn't hurt to delete your cookies just in case.

Are there any Bargainmoosers who are very tech savvy and can comment on the validity of the cookie issue?


  • joy
    I haven't heard about it using cookies to compare prices to other sites but I do know if you check for prices and go back watching for the price to lower you will keep getting the same price since its reading the cookies.
  • Frank
    I've been booking my vacation/flights/hotels online for the past 7 years (taking about 15 trips in that time). When i search, i use many different sites and rarely do I book immediately after searching. I usually check other sites for reviews and take a long period to book, always returning to all sites checked looking for the best deal. After a long process I usually book with the site offering the vest deal for me. That being said, never have i seen the prices online change as I search different sites unless the other factors such as seating costs or vacancy has changed. My $0.02.
  • Joelle
    I was discussing this with my tech guy and DH last night and he says that is exactly what cookies are for. They allow the website and the companies that create them to track your online activity and create a profile of you. This allows tailored advertising and also allows them to get a sense of how serious you are about making a purchase. They know what sites they have to compete with and can adjust their prices to their advantage. This many not happen immediately but over the course of a few days as they track multiple customers activity. Cookies are also why when you return to the travel site later in the day, it will automatically add the dates that you have been searching back into its search criteria. Be sure and clear your cache. Who knew cookies could be a bad thing???
  • robin
    as a travel agent this is very untrue, what is going on when the prices go up is someone else bought the flight or package and the flights are priced in different fares. once the fare is gone the price goes up. I have seen this many times, i could be in the middle of a booking and if the client takes to long giving the information and some else books the space the price can go up. Packages are supposed to be loaded into the websites with real time prices. supply and demand. its that simple.
  • Steven
    I did a quick google search and found the following article which explains it well: http://www.elliott.org/blog/do-travel-sites-use-cookies-to-dupe-you-into-paying-more/ "inconclusive" evidence they say....as a techie, I'm sure spyware could certainly scope out your cookies. This is why having a proper anti-spyware software installed is so important...malware, spyware are almost as dangerous as viruses and trojans.

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