Using VPN to Get Cheaper Flights – Does It Work?
With plane tickets getting more and more expensive because fuel prices go up, it’s hardly surprising that most people have started using VPN to get cheaper flights when planning their trips.
But is that something that actually works? Can you really just use a VPN service to quickly find discounted flights you wouldn’t otherwise see?
If that’s something that’s on your mind, we’ve got just the answers you need.
Why Do Airline Companies Sell the Same Tickets for Different Prices?
They mostly do it to make as much profit as they can. After all, if airline companies were to display the same prices to people from Africa or South-East Asia and users from North America, one of two things would happen:
- They wouldn’t be able to sell too many tickets in the less-developed regions because people couldn’t afford them if they’re priced like they are for people from more developed countries. If that would happen, the airline company wouldn’t be able to afford the fees they pay to the airports they use in those areas.
- If the prices were the same for everyone as they are for people from less developed regions, airline companies wouldn’t be able to make a lot of profit off of customers from North America, for example.
Why are airline companies so obsessed with money, you ask?
Simple – because running an airline company is actually not very profitable. So, they do whatever they can to maximize their bottom line – even going as far as using online price discrimination or dynamic pricing.
What Is Online Price Discrimination?
Online price discrimination is a type of price discrimination that’s used by airline companies and online retailers to display different prices to website visitors based on what geographical region they are from. Different prices might also be displayed to new users and recurring visitors too.
An example of that would be someone from India seeing a significantly discounted airline ticket compared to someone from the US who would be asked to pay a much higher price for the same ticket.
What Is Dynamic Pricing?
Dynamic pricing has started being used by some airline companies. It involves heavy data mining in order to create an accurate customer profile based on your flying preferences (the kind of data the airline website logs about you through cookies or your customer account).
Dynamic pricing could be used to offer you personalized promotions and discounts, but it can also be used to increase ticket costs as well.
Can You Use VPN to Get Cheaper Flights and Bypass Those Issues?
Normally, you should manage to do that. Since a VPN hides your real IP address, the websites you connect to won’t be able to tell what geographical area you are accessing them from. They’ll only see the IP of the VPN server you’re connected to. So, if you’re connected to a server in Romania, you’ll see the prices that are displayed for people in that country.
Overall, you’ve got three options you can try with a VPN:
- Connect to a VPN server located in a more low income part of the world (Eastern Europe, South-East Asia, South America, Africa, etc.).
- Connect to a VPN server located in the country you’re flying to. For instance, if you’re flying from the US to Germany, connect to a server in Germany.
- Choose a VPN server that’s located in the airline’s home country. For example, for Wizz Air, you would connect to a VPN server in Hungary.
It’s hard to say which option works best, so you should try them all and see what results you get. Please keep in mind those are all methods you should try out multiple times. We don’t guarantee you’ll 100% get a huge discount on your first attempt.
How Much Money Do You Actually Save?
There’s no exact number we can give you – the discounts you can get with a VPN vary a lot. In some situations, you might not even notice any differences simply because the particular airline you’re flying with doesn’t use dynamic pricing or price discrimination.
Judging by what people are saying about using VPN to get cheaper flights, it seems that the discounts can be something as simple as a difference of $20-$50 in price, or something as huge as a difference of $400-$1,000.
Generally, though, it’s best to lower your expectations a bit when you try to find cheap flights this way.
Using Only a VPN Might Not Always Be Enough
Since websites have plenty of ways to track your movements on the Internet, it’s best to try out the following things alongside using a VPN service:
1. Delete All Tracking Cookies
If you’re not familiar with cookies, they’re small files that get stored on your device (with your consent, of course) whenever you access a website. Cookies contain all manner of information that can be used to identify you as a specific website visitor by a web server.
Cookies are normally used to offer website visitors a smooth experience (usually be remembering their search terms and login credentials). However, they can also be used by advertisers, online retailers, and airline companies to track online user behavior. In the case of airline websites, they can place tracking cookies on your device, and then use them to identify you as a recurring visitor – yes, even if you use a VPN.
The problem is that a VPN won’t be able to prevent cookies from being placed on your device. So, your best option is to delete all your cookies before connecting to a VPN server when you want to use VPN to get cheaper flights.
In fact, we recommend you delete all your cookies when switching between VPN servers as well. It’s extra work, but it gives you better odds of finding great deals. To save some time and effort, consider using the Cookie AutoDelete extension.
You could also consider using a VPN server that doubles as a proxy server. Why? Because a proxy server would act as a middleman between you and the airline website, and – according to some people – the cookies that would normally be placed on your device, might be placed on the proxy server instead. Please keep in mind there’s no guarantee this really works, but you could give it a try and see if it helps you.
2. Use a Virtual Machine
If you want to be extremely thorough, you should use a clean install of an operating system alongside the cookie-deletion process and VPN service. Naturally, reinstalling your operating system every time you want to look for cheap flights is way too much of a hassle, which is why you use virtual machine software instead.
If you’re not sure what that is, it’s basically a virtual operating system that’s installed within your main operating system. For example, if you run Windows 10, you can use virtual machine software to run a virtual installation of Windows XP within it.
So, whenever you’d want to look up cheap flights, you’d first start up the virtual machine within your main OS, and then run the VPN connection within the virtual machine.
3. Use Your Browser’s “Incognito Mode”
Incognito Mode or Private Browsing is a web browser feature that lets you access the web without having to worry about your browser history being saved. Also, most cookie and web cache features are disabled to a certain extent too.
This isn’t the kind of trick you should rely on alone, though. Incognito Mode/Private Browsing might help you once or twice by preventing some websites from tracking your behavior, but it’s not the same as using a virtual machine or VPN. Eventually, airline websites will notice a pattern – not to mention your IP address will still be visible.
All in all, it’s best if you use your browser’s Incognito Mode/Private Browsing feature within the virtual machine, and while you’re connected to a VPN server.
An alternative thing you can try out is using multiple browsers, alongside their Private Browsing and Incognito Modes. Though, that can get pretty tiring.
4. Try Not Using Your Customer Account
This is pretty counterintuitive, we know, but consider this: If the airline you regularly fly with uses dynamic pricing, they might sometimes display higher-priced flights to you as recommendations.
That might not happen all the time, and – more often than not – you’ll get discounts, but it’s worth trying to use a fresh new account or no account when using VPN to get cheaper flights – at least a few times.
Is Using VPN to Get Cheaper Flights Legal?
Yes. As far as we know, you can’t get into legal trouble for doing this in most countries.
The only way doing this might be considered illegal is if you use a VPN to get cheaper flights in a country where VPN usage is against the law – like China, Iran, Belarus, Turkmenistan, Iraq, Oman, and the UAE.
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Using VPN to Get Cheaper Flights – The Bottom Line
Airline websites (like online retailers) often rely on price discrimination and dynamic pricing to make as much profit as they can off of their customers. While their reasons are understandable (the airline business isn’t very profitable nowadays), it’s hardly fair that you need to pay a higher price just because you’re from a specific geographical region.
Luckily, you can use VPN to get cheaper flights since it hides your real IP address, and makes it hard for websites to track your digital footprints. Of course, you should keep in mind that the money you get to save varies a lot (from a few dollars to hundreds of dollars), and there’s no 100% guarantee you’ll get better deals with a VPN every single time.
To boost your chances of successfully using VPN to get cheaper flights, you should also try the following:
- Use Incognito Mode/Private Browsing on your web browser.
- Use a virtual machine on your device to look up flights.
- Delete any cookies that might be placed on your device before searching for flights.
- Try not to use your customer account on an airline company’s website since dynamic pricing can affect the deals you get.