Do targeted ads give you a creepy feeling? This, of course, is when you search for certain items online, then later you see ads associated with what you’ve searched for on other sites.
You might not mind targeted ads because you’re seeing items that you actually care about. But, is this type of tracking information actually costing you money when you travel?
How airlines track your online activity
This debate has been going on for years. Do airlines and ticketing websites track people’s online searches and raise airfare prices based on those searches?
It’s a tough question to answer. Airline executives have always denied the practice, saying prices fluctuate depending on inventory updates or website glitches. However, there have been studies showing otherwise.
An adviser with Consumer Reports said he’s seen evidence that airfare prices based on search history is not a myth. His team of researchers conducted a study last year by completing 372 searches on nine different airline ticketing sites. They searched for the exact same itinerary at the same time and website using two different browsers, one with cookies intact and the other with cookies scrubbed.
What they discovered was, 59 percent of the times that search results differed, the higher fares came from the browser with no search history. Those higher priced fares often came from online travel agencies like Orbitz. The lower priced fares came from meta-search sites like Google Flights or Kayak.
Finding the best airfare deals
The good news is, it’s really simple to trick the airlines so they can’t tell that you’re eager to book a flight to a destination. You just need to go incognito. That’s easy to do.