Don’t Forget to Clear Your Cookies

According to Ed Hewitt at Independent Traveler, don’t forget to clear your cookies before looking for airfares. I have read so frequently that your browser history can lead to higher airfares and this information shows you how. In fact, even the type of computer you use can affect what fares and options booking engines show you; Orbitz CEO Barney Harford reveals how the site recommends different (usually pricier) hotels to Mac users that to PC users.
Many sites use cookies to identify you in various ways as you surf the Internet, most easily seen in “Welcome back, Ed” notices when I return to a shopping site, even while not logged in — and most obviously in ads for things I have recently researched in the same browser (our family recently visited Disney for a day, and after I bought some tickets, it was like my browser was taken over by mice and princesses). These cookies have real and useful applications that benefit the user — an obvious one is to track items you put into a shopping cart without requiring a log-in — as well as real and useful applications for the website you visit, such as serving up targeted ads and knowing your general preferences. In recent months, many travel experts have reported that airlines and booking engines are using cookies to show potentially higher airfares on routes that you have searched often. So if you are researching an upcoming trip from Cleveland to San Diego and have checked airfares on the route frequently in recent days or weeks, the site “knows” you really want these fares, and “guesses” that you might be willing to pay a bit more for them.

Some even think the airlines are tracking IP addresses, which is your unique address on the Internet that allows computers to find you. Beating this trend would entail changing not only browsers, not only computers, but also your location. You can give this a try if you are desperate — search at home, then again at work or a local coffee shop before booking (or vice versa) — but otherwise clearing cookies, using a different browser or even checking on your mobile device vs. your computer is a good place to start.  You can skirt the IP issue by using your phone as long as you make sure it’s not using your home Wi-Fi connection — connect through your phone provider and you’ll have a different IP. Amazing – isn’t it? So, don’t forget to clear your cookies and you can also call your local travel agent.

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Filed under Airfare, Airline/airport news, Family Travel, Holidays, Honeymoons, Miscellaneous News, Traveler Tips

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