DYNAMIC PRICING - Want to find cheaper flights? Clear your browser history. Here’s why:

Searching for flights? You’d better clear your cookies if you don’t want to be overcharged. I was recently searching for flights from New York to the Caribbean in an attempt to escape the bomb cyclone that descended on the Northeast like a bad dream.

 3 Days* - computer work, checking flight pricing

3 Days* - computer work, checking flight pricing

I happened to be sitting in between two coworkers who were also casually searching flights using exactly the same criteria. To my amazement, the flights I was seeing were $100-$200 more than my colleagues’ results. What was happening? Clear your browser history! I was informed. When I did, the prices went down significantly. W.T.F.

Though airlines don’t officially cop to this practice, industry analysts and savvy consumers say that online vendors can collect data from your search history to determine how desperate you are to fly on certain dates to a certain location, and will adjust pricing based on that information.

The logic behind the practice of “dynamic pricing” or “personalized pricing” is that companies can charge you different prices based on what your search history data has revealed you are willing to pay. In 2014 in the US, an industry-wide system that allows airlines to collect personal data was approved by regulators, meaning – hypothetically – the prices you’re seeing could be based on factors like your neighborhood, marital status and travel history.

This phenomenon might also be affecting your online searches for hotels, Kombucha or even snow boots in a region where it happens to be snowing horizontally for days on end… 

 

What can you do? That’s right, clear your history. Here’s how:

How to clear cookies on Chrome:

  • Select the menu button on your browser's toolbar.
  • Select "Settings."
  • Click "Show advanced settings."
  • Select the "Privacy" option, and click "Content settings."
  • Find the "Cookies" option, and click "Delete cookies."

How to clear cookies on Firefox:

  • Select the menu button on your browser's toolbar.
  • Click on "History."
  • Select "Clear recent history."
  • Set the time range to "Everything."
  • Click on the arrow next to "Details" to expand the list of history items and select "Cookies."
  • Click "Clear now".

How to clear cookies on Safari:

  • Select Preferences from the Safari menu
  • Select “Privacy”.
  • Click the “Remove All Website Data” button to remove all stored website data, or skip to step 5 to remove data on a site-by-site basis.
  • Click “Remove Now” to confirm.

Voila! Lower prices. Happy travel planning, digital warriors.