Brands can use this information to personalize travel deals offered to you.If you are accessing a travel site from a low-income country for example, you might be offered lower prices on flights. If your browsing history reflects repeated searches for flights to a certain location, the prices you are shown might be higher. In addition, the location you are buying your flight ticket from can play a crucial role in the deal you get.
There’s also the matter of what’s called “dynamic pricing.” In essence, when using dynamic pricing, companies look at which locations have the greatest demand for a certain product or service and adjust their prices accordingly. This can be based on a number of other factors as well, including the type of device used, and zip code.
So, how exactly does this work? Let’s take a closer look.
How Does This Work?
There are many methods used by flight comparison sites to track your location:
- IP Address—The IP address (aka Internet Protocol) is known to be the easiest way to detect a user’s location. And since flight comparison sites are able to detect your IP address, they can serve you with flight prices according to your location with ease.
- Mobile Tracking—Your mobile device (e.g. smartphone or tablet) comes with a GPS feature that can pinpoint your location. If you are fond of browsing flight comparison sites from your mobile device, then you are likely to see prices unique to your location.
- WiFi—Have you been giving websites permission? If so, then your WiFi can be used to detect your exact location.
When flight comparison sites quote air tickets, they consider a few factors. They include, but are not limited to, location, currency, and point of sale. This means that customers from different countries, or using different currencies, can see varying prices for the same travel date, destination, or airline.
Interestingly, there is a way for you to get the best flight deals regardless of your location. You can even do this without the need to spend a good amount of time scouring through different flight comparison sites for a good deal. All you have to do is hide your location and browsing history.
How? By using a VPN.
How Can a VPN Help You Save Money On Flights?
Before you start using a VPN to look for the best flight deals, you need to understand how it works.
So, what exactly is a VPN?
VPN simply stands for Virtual Private Network. In essence, it gives you a private connection to the internet. But there is more to it. For starters, a VPN can hide your browsing history and/or online activities. In addition, it can hide your true location from anyone or anything trying to know it.
So how does a VPN do this? How is it able to hide this information altogether? Technically, it uses software that is capable of encrypting data before anyone (e.g. hackers, government, ISP, etc.) can see it.
The VPN also keeps your online activities hidden from prying eyes that can access your network. In other words, not only does a VPN keep your browsing activities safe, allowing you to browse the internet or log in to your personal accounts without the worry of someone stealing your personal data and other sensitive information, but it can also help you get better prices on your next flight booking.
Putting That To The Test
Now that you already know what a VPN is and how it actually works, let’s try a test run.
We tried a wide range of popular international flights - such as New York to Paris, New York to Frankfurt, Miami to Rio De Janeiro, and Los Angeles to Tokyo, to name a few - and had somewhat mixed results. With each search, we played with the VPN quite a bit - changing our location to a poorer or less developed country, or to the same country as the flight destination or the main airline that flies there. By and large, the prices were the same regardless of where we set the VPN to, or if we didn’t use a VPN at all.
There were some price variations though, usually in the neighborhood of around $15-$30 dollars on roundtrip flights with a sticker price of several hundred dollars or more. This can be significant though, if you are traveling in a large party.
There are some savings though, and we did a battery of tests on the same flight to see what we can shave off the bottom line.
We checked the same Atlanta to London weekday non-stop roundtrip flight, leaving in three weeks. We looked on seven different sites - Expedia, Kayak, Orbitz, Travelocity, Cheapo Air, Hotwire, and Priceline, and switched our VPN across India, Israel, Ukraine, Brazil, France, Germany, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
While there weren’t any amazing, jaw-dropping deals, there were some savings.
For instance, we found that on Cheapoair, changing our VPN to India or Israel dropped the price from $1,164 to $1,146 and $1,127, respectively. Switching to the Ukraine, Brazil, and France meant savings of $16.
On Kayak, we found tickets for $1,163 when we were set to the Ukraine or Israel, a savings of $32 dollars over the $1,195 quoted to us when we weren’t using a VPN and it spotted us as being in the US.
Now a savings of $32 might not sound like a huge game changer, but imagine you’re flying with a family of four, that’s $128 just for flipping on the VPN. Even for a single person flying alone it’s nothing to sneeze at, and a savings of $16 is also a nice added bonus.
For the most part, the biggest difference in prices was seen when we changed our search parameters, changing the dates or adding in a layover or two. In those cases, the savings were at times well over $100 or more per ticket.
The bottom line? If you have a VPN and you’re shopping around for airline tickets, it should definitely be a tool you keep in your arsenal to potentially save a little extra money, but it shouldn’t be the only trick you have up your sleeve.
How Can You Save Money On Flight Tickets Using a VPN?
As you may have already noticed, the process is pretty straightforward. There is no doubt that you can master this overnight. Still, here are the steps on how you can save money on flight tickets using a VPN:
- Start by clearing your cookies on your go-to browser.
- Connect to a VPN server in a different city, state, or country.
- Open a private or incognito browser window, so you can start shopping for flight deals.
- Repeat this process until you find the best one.
You may find the need to perform a few searchers in order to chance upon the best flight deal. Also, we recommend searching without a VPN, so you can better compare prices.
Are There Any Risks Involved?
Believe it or not, this is not one of those too good to be true scenarios. There are no risks involved in using a VPN to search for and book flights. You can always use a VPN to save money on your flights. In fact, airlines and travel sites do not have a problem with this. Since these sites quote prices for customers based on their different geographical locations, you can take advantage of these differences by browsing anonymously. By using a VPN to access these websites, it is always possible for you to make significant savings on your flight tickets.
If you’re looking for a good VPN to save you money on flights, check out our best VPNs list.
Read on our next guide to learn how using a VPN can save you money on hotels.