If you have ever dedicated time to researching a flight deal, you may have noticed how prices are always increasing with every click and every page refresh.
Unfortunately, marketing agencies employ various tactics when offering airplane tickets for sale. And most varying prices are based on your location. As strange as it may sound, people living in high-income countries get more expensive tickets than others residing in low-income regions.
Of course, none of this is fair. But you can change the odds in your favor. To save money on flights, you can turn to a reliable VPN service that masks your true identity and location. Marketing agencies will believe you are contacting them from a different country than your own. And if you happen to find the right country, you can get excellent deals.
In this article, we are showing you simple tips and tricks to help you get better flight deals by using a dependable virtual private network application. Let us see what we have prepared for today’s menu (click below to jump to topic):
- How are marketing agencies tracking you?
- How can a VPN help you?
- Putting our theory to the test
How to save money on flights with a VPN
- Get a premium VPN application
- Download and set up the VPN service
- Clear browsing cookies or using private browsing
- Disable WebRTC to prevent IP leaks
- Go to the travel agency site without VPN
- Connect to a VPN server
- Compare notes and decide which VPN country is cheapest
- Keep multiple pages opened while staying connected to different VPN countries at once
- Why should you spend money on a premium VPN when you can use that money to pay for the flight’s full price?
- Is it legal using a VPN to get cheaper flight deals?
How are marketing agencies tracking you?
When browsing the web to shop for a product or service, you have probably noticed ads tracking your every move, showing up in unexpected places. These banners continue to be displayed long after buying the particular product or service.
It is a strategy used by marketing agencies to create personalized ads that you are likely to find more attractive. It is based on which websites you visit, how much time you spend there, what pictures or links you click, and so on.
Modern web browsers have a built-in setting called Send Do-Not-Track Request. Enabling it instructs the browser to stop broadcasting all the previously mentioned information to marketing services so that they will not be able to keep tabs of your activity anymore.
Sadly, that is not the only thing that must be done to prevent flight websites from finding out who you are. Here are other ways that you can be tracked.
The job of an ISP is to assign an IP address to all devices that connect to the Internet. Therefore, you cannot go online and establish connections to remote services unless you have an IP address. It serves two functions: to identify your host or network interface, as well as to determine your location.
The problem is that some websites, like those of flight agencies, take advantage of this information to figure out that you have visited their page before, looked at an offer many times, and decided to wait until you received a better offer.
When this happens, you become the victim of price surging. Fortunately, you can stop this from happening by getting equipped with a trustworthy virtual private network service.
HTTP cookies contain tiny pieces of information that get saved in your web browser. Their purpose is to streamline your Internet navigation experience by helping websites remember various details about you, like how many items are stored in your shopping cart.
However, browser cookies become problematic when they expose your identity and location to an flight company which decides to show higher prices than normal. That is because it attempts to force users into buying the first offer they are presented with, out of fear of never finding such a good offer again.
Luckily, you can clear browser cookies and connect to a VPN server to switch to another country and get better details from flight companies.
If you must connect to 4G to gain Internet access, it means that you are using a mobile data plan. When this happens, you automatically expose your location to websites. As a result, marketing agencies know that you are not a new visitor, so they will charge you more money for the same service.
On the other hand, you can conceal your IP address and spoof your location with the help of a premium VPN service. It encrypts all incoming and outgoing data traffic, which means that it hides the identity of your mobile carrier.
The only difference between Wi-Fi tracking and mobile tracking is that, in this case, you are connected to a wireless network instead of 4G. Therefore, your true identity and location are revealed to any websites that might be monitoring your browsing activity, including flight agencies.
But this matter can be easily resolved by resorting to a good VPN application capable of encrypting your traffic and assigning a new IP address to your device. This way, you will not have to worry about pricing surges when it comes to online offers.
How can a VPN help you?
A virtual private network service creates a secure tunnel placed in the public Internet, in order to isolate your private data from the rest of the world. All information that gets sent through this tunnel is encrypted. Thus, even if a hacker manages to obtain the data, they would not be able to decipher the scrambled code, ending up with nothing useful.
When it comes to getting better deals for airplane tickets, a VPN helps you by associating your identity with a new location. Subsequently, when you visit a website, it will not be able to tell that you went there before, as long as you switched VPN servers in the meantime.
Every time you connect to a new VPN country, you get a fresh start. It is like visiting the website for the first time: you are presented with the best deal, unaffected by your clicks, page refreshes, and other details about your previous visit.
Putting our theory to the test
To test our theory, we used the ExpressVPN native application for Windows, which we will later describe in this article. Furthermore, we visited Skyscanner.net to look for the cheapest possible flight.
As for the flight details, we planned on leaving from Madrid on the 20th of October and on returning from Munich on the 27th of October 2019. Conditions were set for 1 adult in economy class, with multiple stops acceptable. Results were sorted by price (cheapest first) and we changed the currency to USD.
For the first part of our test, we did not connect to a VPN server but exposed our true location to Skyscanner (Bucharest, Romania). As you can see in the first image below, the cheapest flight was evaluated at $172 was made available through Iberia Airline (the flag carrier airline of Spain).
In the second part of the test, we fired up ExpressVPN and connected to a server from the UK because Skyscanner belongs to a company from the United Kingdom and we heard a rumor that it offers better deals for English customers. Indeed, the price was lowered by $9, resulting in $163 (same airline, same date, same departure and return time).
Because the difference was quite small, we thought about kicking it up a notch in the third part of the test. So, we connected to an ExpressVPN server from Japan just because it is on a different continent. Surprisingly, Skyscanner shaved off an additional $9, resulting in $154 (same flight conditions). By now, we found a deal that cut off 18$ from the original price (offered to Romania).
Nevertheless, we were still not satisfied, so we decided to give it one more try in the fourth and final part of the test. We connected to an ExpressVPN from Spain since the place of departure was Madrid and the flight carrier was Spanish. Skyscanner surprised us again by removing an extra $25, coming to the $129 final price.
So, the difference between the initial offer of $172 for non-VPN traffic (set to Romania true location) and the final offer of $129 for a VPN server in Spain was $43 (%25 off). Needless to say, having a trustworthy VPN service clearly pays off.
How to save money on flights with a VPN
It does not take rocket science to explore multiple flight prices after connecting to a VPN server. Nevertheless, there are small steps you can take to improve the entire experience and maximize your chances at getting the best possible deals.
Get a premium VPN application
If you look for VPNs on the Internet, you will find many free tools that promise to bring you the best security and privacy without any costs. But this is a false claim because there is no such thing as a free product that delivers excellent service, and that includes virtual private network tools.
In fact, a lot of free VPN providers take advantage and monitor, collect and sell your data to marketing agencies in exchange for profit. Due to this and other shady VPN tactics, we recommend getting a premium VPN service.
When it comes to flights, you are definitely looking for a product that comes bundled with many servers from various countries. This way, you can explore various regions and find the best possible flight deals.
Our VPN recommendation
Choosing the best VPN tool can be an ordeal if you do not already know what you are looking for. Each virtual private network service has its benefits and drawbacks, so it can take a long time to test multiple software applications until you find the perfect fit.
But you can take our word for it since we have evaluated, ranked and reviewed more than 50 VPN services. Not long ago, we put to the test the best VPN services of 2019 to see which is at the top. As it turned out, the winner is ExpressVPN, which we also used earlier to find the cheapest flight deals with a VPN.
When we reviewed ExpressVPN, we mentioned that you can take advantage of more than 3,000 VPN servers in 160 server locations and 94 countries. That is more than enough to help you experiment with flight deals.
It also has split tunneling mode, which can help you route VPN traffic to only one web browser. This way, you can use two browsers to simultaneously look up flight offers set to your true location and while you are connected to a VPN server.
What’s more, ExpressVPN has many security features, such as support for OpenVPN and other VPN protocols, a kill switch that cuts off Internet access in case you are suddenly disconnected, together with DNS leak protection and exclusive DNS servers.
Download and set up the VPN service
After finding and purchasing a premium VPN service, you can download the native client for your device and install it on your system. Earlier, when we recommended ExpressVPN, we did not mention a very important aspect.
The app is compatible with multiple devices, such as Mac, Linux, Windows, iOS and macOS. It is also possible to install it at the router level, in order to share VPN access to other people in your home or office.
Clear browsing cookies or using private browsing
We previously talked about browsing cookies and how they can negatively affect your experience when attempting to find better flight deals.
As such, you must delete HTTP cookies from your favorite browser as soon as you end a visit on a website that promotes cheap airplane tickets. Otherwise, if you visit it the second time, the site will know you are a repeat visitor and will increase the original prices.
Although it is quite easy to manually clear browser cookies, depending on which browser you prefer, we recommend that you get an addon which can take care of this automatically. For instance, you can try Cookie AutoDelete (for Firefox), EditThisCookie (for Chrome) or Self-Destructing Cookies (for Opera).
But an even better alternative is to use the private browsing or incognito mode of your web browser. Chrome, Firefox, Opera and other modern web browsers do not store cookie data in this stealth browsing mode.
Instead, it immediately deletes it on exit. But do not forget to close all private browsing or incognito windows between switching VPN servers, because the cookies will not be removed otherwise. To find out more about how to improve your online privacy with a VPN, check out this article.
Disable WebRTC to prevent IP leaks
Modern browsers have a modern technology implemented, called WebRTC, designed to create direct peer-to-peer communication between the sites you visit and the audio and video channels. But there is one major disadvantage: due to its architecture, WebRTC unintentionally spills your IP address to all websites.
It does not depend on your VPN desktop client because it can only be controlled from within the web browser. Therefore, if your browser has WebRTC activated, it will leak your IP address even when you are connected to a VPN server. However, it is possible to stop this by manually disabling WebRTC.
And, if you are interested in an automatic approach that does not require your intervention, you can turn to browser addons. For instance, ExpressVPN, the VPN service that we recommended earlier, has extensions specifically made for Chrome and Firefox. They can not only encrypt your browsing sessions but also turn off WebRTC and keep it that way.
Go to the travel agency site without VPN
Before connecting to a VPN server to find cheap flight details, you must first visit the website which sells airplane tickets, in order to set a baseline and know what you are comparing.
Keep track of the search parameters you enter because future searches must contain identical flight conditions. This information includes the departure and destination airport or city, leave and return date and time, along with the cabin class, number of travelers, and number of hops.
After running the search, do not forget to sort the results by price (cheapest first), then take note of the airline and exact times of departure and return, as well as the best deal.
Connect to a VPN server
Once you set the baseline price, you can fire up your VPN client and connect to the VPN server of another country. Do not take into account the VPN server recommended by the application because it focuses on speed (the closest city or country).
Instead, we advise you to start with the country of the departure, especially if you stumble upon a flag carrier airline from the same country (as we did in the Madrid-to-Munich test earlier). In many cases, flight companies present locals with better deals.
When it comes to ExpressVPN, here is how you can connect to a VPN server (look at the images below to see what we mean).
Step 1: Fire up ExpressVPN and remain in the main app window
- Click the ellipsis button (…) to access the VPN locations picker
- Another way is by opening the hamburger menu (≡) and picking VPN Locations
- Step 2: Click any server from the Recommended, Favorites or All categories to connect to it
Compare notes and decide which VPN country is cheapest
In addition to the country of the departure city, you can try a VPN server from a low-income country. Also, try a VPN server from another continent since it is less likely to catch a flight if you are currently on the other part of the planet.
Connect to a VPN server, clear web browser cookies or start a private browsing session, then visit the same travel agency website, enter the same search parameters as before (including currency), and sort results by price (cheapest first). Keep track of all new information you can find, and then you can compare notes to find the cheapest flight deal via VPN.
Keep multiple pages opened while staying connected to different VPN countries at once
Some online travel agencies practice dynamic pricing, which means that the price could change even after reconnecting to a VPN server that you previously used. As such, you should connect only once and keep the page opened to be prepared to book the flight as soon as you can confirm it is the best offer.
However, split tunneling does not work in this case, because you cannot connect to different VPN servers at once. On the bright side, you can set up the VPN client on multiple devices, connect to different VPN servers, and look at flight deals.
For instance, ExpressVPN can be launched on up to five devices at the same time. Assuming that you and a family member have two computers, two smartphones and one tablet, you can set up ExpressVPN on all five devices.
Then, you can sign into the same account, connect to VPN servers from five different countries, and check out flight details using identical search parameters. As a result, you can immediately book the cheapest flight that you can find.
Why should you spend money on a premium VPN when you can use that money to pay for the flight’s full price?
It should not be a surprise that a reliable VPN service does not come cheap, especially when considering that it involves a recurring payment you must make every month, three months, six months, one year or two years, depending on the subscription plan.
If you rarely fly, then it is probably not worth buying a top-grade VPN service because the money can be very well spent on the full ticket price. However, if you frequently travel, particularly internationally, then you certainly need to add a multi-talented VPN application to your toolkit. It might seem expensive in the present, but it will save you a lot of money on flights in the future.
Besides a premium VPN service brings tons of benefits, like securing your browsing sessions, hiding your browsing activity from your ISP, unlocking the Netflix library of other countries, bypassing firewalls, overcoming government censorship, and so on.
Is it legal using a VPN to get cheaper flight deals?
It is normal to question the legality of using a virtual private network service to your leverage, in order to obtain a smaller price on airplane tickets. But you definitely do not need to worry about this. It is perfectly legal.
Besides, what airplane ticket agencies are doing should not be legal either: offering varying prices for the same service by discriminating potential customers based on location. So, all you are doing is fighting fire with fire, getting equipped with the necessary tools to counteract the bad practices of marketing agencies.