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This popular ‘hack’ for booking cheap flights doesn’t actually work

شاهد الحلقة 23 


Young woman shopping online for flight ticket on airline website with laptop at home, sitting next to suitcase with sun hat, camera, clothings, headphones, smartphone and passport. Getting ready for vacation. Travel and vacation concept
A popular travel hack for booking flights has been debunked (Picture: Getty Images)

We all love a holiday, but it’s no secret that plane tickets can be incredibly expensive. As such, any tips or tricks that might lower the cost are in demand.

One popular hack you may have seen doing the rounds on social media claims you can book cheaper flights if you search for them using a ‘private’ or ‘incognito’ browser.

The tip, which has been shared online by a number of travel influencers and even flight attendants, claims that when you look up flights you should switch to private mode on your internet browser.

When you search the web in a private mode, your browser doesn’t store a history of the sites you’ve visited – the idea is that travel agencies and airlines can’t use cookies to collect data and track your browser history.

The theory is that – if you don’t use private mode – the companies will put the price of a flight up based on the frequency of your visits.

But we’re sorry to tell you this travel hack appears to be fake news.


Incognito Icon Vector Illustration. Browse in private Laptop
The incognito trick forbooking flights went viral on TikTok (Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto)

We put it to the test by searching for flights online (London to New York over the busy Christmas period) in a regular Chrome window on a laptop, and in an incognito one on a iPhone, and the prices were exactly the same for both.

At the time of our search, flights from December 24th to January 1st from LHR to JFK cost £767 with BA in both windows.

Interestingly, a search for the same dates and locations on Skyscanner actually found a cheaper deal in the regular Chrome browser (£532) with Finnair, but the same deal didn’t appear on Skyscanner in incognito mode. In that window, the cheapest flight was £538 with Iberia.

In an effort to be completely fair, we tried one final time as we all know third time is often the charm.

On this go, we searched the same London to New York flights on Virgin Atlantic’s website. Once again both browsers showed the exact same prices for flights, with these costing £1,058.31.

And we’re not the only ones who have found this hack to be lacking.

Over on TikTok a travel influencer known as @raimeetravels, made her own video about it saying: ‘I keep seeing people recommend this travel tip that is NOT true.

‘So I tested it out to prove that using a VPN or incognito mode will not help you find cheaper flights.’

She then shows two laptops, one using a VPN and one without and looks up flights from LA to Tokyo on both and they are exactly the same.

Raimee then does the same for incognito mode using all the same variables.

‘It’s the same price,’ she stresses at the end of the clip.

Similarly, a social media user known as ‘Travel Insurance Guy’, who posts as @covertrip also shared a viral clip debunking the incognito trick.

‘Here’s a travel booking hack that’s just not true,’ he said. ‘I bet you’ve heard this one before. The fake tip is to search for your flights using incognito.

‘The idea is that the airlines use the tracking information to raise the prices on them and if you use incognito mode you’ll get lower prices. It always seemed a little off, so I dug into it.

‘It turns out it’s completely false and there’s no evidence to support it. Many other travel sites have covered this too.’

He goes on to explain why many people fall for this ‘travel myth’ and think there’s a difference in price between the two windows.

‘The average economy fare changes 61 times a day,’ he claims. ‘So it’s probably just a coincidence. Demand drives the price of flights and as various seats are booked, prices will change.

‘So when you go to book a flight you can skip incognito mode as it’s not doing anything.’

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