Does Using Incognito Mode Or A VPN Really Give You Better Airfare Prices?

Plane tickets are typically the most expensive single purchase you will make while planning your trip. Luckily, this means that over time, people have learned some great tips and tricks to lessen the blow at checkout. From using your credit card points and miles to knowing the best times of the week, month, or year to buy, there are lots of ways you can save on your purchase. One way savvy travelers try and save is by using incognito mode or a VPN to prevent airline websites from tracking activity with cookies and jacking up prices. However, you might be interested to learn that this is a myth.

Airlines don't artificially raise prices when they see you searching the same flight multiple times. Therefore, switching to incognito mode or using a VPN doesn't really do anything ... sort of. There are certain situations for some airlines and routes where a VPN may come in handy for saving on flights. For example, smaller airlines may charge you more if you're located in the U.S. and booking a flight from, let's say, Florida to Peru. However, if you use a VPN and set your location to a country in South America, you may find a reduction in price. Keep in mind, this is a rare occurrence and not guaranteed to always save you money, but you might as well try it.

The real reason why airfare prices can change unexpectedly

Airfare prices can change hour by hour and it has nothing to do with whether or not you're in incognito mode or have your VPN set to Vanuatu. This is because the demand and supply of airline tickets is also changing constantly. As summer approaches and the demand for flights to Europe goes up, so do ticket prices. 

You may see frequent changes as individuals begin to book their flights in January or February and tickets become more scarce. This is why booking tickets at the last minute is so expensive. The closer you book to your departure date, the fewer the tickets, but the more willing a potential flyer is to pay the price due to needing the ticket for an emergency or last-minute plans. Predatory? Maybe. Effective? Well, we can only guess that airlines must have success with this strategy since it's such a common occurrence.

Real ways you can actually save money on airfare

If the truth about cookies and airfare is a bit disappointing, we get you. But look at it this way: You're saving yourself a lot of time by not clearing your cache whenever you want to book a flight, and you can relieve yourself of at least one reason to hate airlines. Your time will be better spent employing strategies that will actually save you money — and ditching outdated travel tips that don't. 

One of the best ways to save is to search for your flights within the Goldilocks window. This is at least two to eight months before your trip for international flights, and one to three months for domestic. You'll also want to try to be as flexible as possible with your dates and hours as weekday travel, off-season travel, and red-eye flights will usually be less expensive. Being decisive when you find a good price is especially important. There is almost nothing worse than seeing a great price only to find it went up a hundred bucks just a week later.