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Use of Browser Cookies in Determining Flight Prices – Things to Know

Did you know that browser cookies have a direct impact on your flight’s prices that you search online? Well, if you haven’t, you’re about to. You may already know about web browser cookies and what their purpose is. But, knowing how the use of such cookies can also help websites of airline carriers and flight searching tools provide you cheaper flight prices is debatable. So, let’s dive in to learn more about how these browser cookies affect the prices of flights and their role in showing you different airfares on different devices and web browsers.

In this blog, we are going to give you an in-depth overview of what browser cookies are and how the data helps determine the prices of flights whenever you search one online.

What are Browser Cookies?

Web browser cookies are small pieces of information which are collected and stored in your web browser by websites that you visit. Some browser cookies are stored for a short period of time till they expire, while there are also certain cookies which can be stored for a longer duration or even permanently (called supercookies).

The information that are collected and stored by these browser cookies generally include your credentials (site login usernames and passwords), banking information (debit/credit card details) stored on your browser, history of websites you have visited, your computer or device’s IP address, your browser preferences/settings, installed plug-ins/add-ons/extensions, resolution of your browser’s window and more.

When you visit a website, for example, an airliner’s website or a flight search site, most often, these websites will display a pop-up on your screen. The pop-up displays a notification about the collection and use of cookies and requires your consent to either allow or reject storing the site’s cookies on your web browser. For instance, the European laws (GDPR) have mandated websites to ask user’s permission for allowing cookies to be stored on the users’ web browsers.

Why are Cookies Stored on Web Browsers?

Websites use cookies in order to improve users’ experience by serving you products and services that you may be interested in.

Nowadays, most websites rely heavily on cookies to market their products and services to customers. Also, they partner with other websites in order to promote their business brands and display their advertisements on other websites, which in other words, keeps track of your browsing habits through websites you visit.

For instance, if you had recently searched for flights on either Google Flights’ website or an airliner’s website, and without removing your browsing history and cookies, you access another site, say a news site, you might see advertisements related to your flight searches on that site.

This is possible through the collection and use of cookies by websites that you recently had accessed.

Do Web Browser Cookies Affect Flight Prices? How Flight Prices can be Compared?

Technically speaking, yes. Web browser cookies have the tendency of storing information, especially of a user’s experiences on the websites he/she visits. Thus, the airline companies and the online flight searching sites leverage this information to follow you around and serve you with flight prices, discounts, promotions and so on. This is also the reason why you often see changes in prices of flights whenever you search for one using different devices and web browsers.

For example, when you search for a flight from New York City to London via American Airlines using a web browser on your desktop computer, laptop computer and smartphone, you will notice that the fares are different on different devices and web browsers. To make this more easy to understand, let us consider the following scenarios.

Scenario #1: On your desktop computer, open a web browser, say Google Chrome and go to any airliner’s website, or perhaps, you could also visit an online flight searching site, such as Google Flights.

Again, open a different browser, like Firefox in incognito mode (available as “New Private Window” on the Settings menu) and access the same websites to search for flights from the New York City to London on American Airlines.

Scenario #2: Using your laptop computer, open a web browser, say Google Chrome, and go to the same websites of both the airliner and Google Flights opened in separate tabs.

Again, use a different web browser, say Firefox in incognito mode and go to the same websites of both the airliner and Google Flights opened in separate tabs.

Scenario #3: In the last scenario, we will use a smartphone device. If you are using an Apple iPhone, you can compare flight prices for the same flight and route on Safari and Chrome browsers. Here as well, launch the same websites.

Likewise, if you are using a mobile phone with Android operating system, you can do the same by launching separate browsers, for instance, Chrome and Firefox or Brave browser.

When you search for flights using different web browsers and on different devices, you will likely see differences in the airfares.

Does Searching Flight Prices in a Browser’s “Incognito” Mode Make Any Difference?

Perhaps, yes. The “incognito” mode in a web browser does not store any information of the websites you visit, and all your browsing data is deleted automatically when you quit the browser. Hence, the name “incognito”. You can refer to the above scenarios to try finding prices of flights from the same website, but using different browsers (both in normal and incognito mode) and on different devices.

However, bear in mind to not be confused with incognito being a VPN (Virtual Private Network). Basically, the incognito mode in web browsers only allow you to access websites and store their cookies during the session. So, each time you close the browser, all session data are immediately deleted, including cookies. This does not hide your true IP address whatsoever.

On the other hand, a VPN masks your true IP address and connects you to another geographical area (virtually) with a different IP address, so that you can access websites without being tracked. Sometimes, a VPN also allows you to connect to websites which are censored or blocked geographically.

When you access the internet using the browser’s built-in incognito mode, websites usually look at you as a new user and knows nothing about you, except the IP address with which you are connected to that site.

How to Get Rid of Cookies from Web Browsers

Many users do not feel comfortable in allowing websites to store cookies on the users’ web browsers.

If you do not like to have websites store cookies on your browsers, you can easily get rid of them after you are done using these websites. This can be achieved quickly through a couple of steps. In addition, you can also configure your web browsers to automatically delete certain or all cookies when you close the application.

Below, we have provided the necessary steps in order to delete cookies from a few mainstream browser applications.

Microsoft Edge

To delete cookies from Microsoft Edge browser, follow these steps.

1. After launching the Edge browser, click the Settings menu icon located on the top right corner after the address bar.

Note: The browser’s Settings menu icon is usually displayed by three horizontal dots.

2. When the Settings menu pops up, click the Settings option, select Clear Browsing Data option and click again on Choose What To Clear option.

3. There will a couple of checkboxes. Simply check the boxes of items, including cookies that you wish to delete from the browser. After checking the boxes, click the Clear button to have all data from these items deleted.

Google Chrome

To delete cookies from Google Chrome browser, follow these steps.

1. On your Chrome browser, click the Settings menu icon located on the top right corner after the address bar.

Note: The browser’s Settings menu icon is usually displayed having three vertical dots.

2. From the menu, click the Settings options to open the browser’s settings page.

3. Now, scroll to the bottom of the page and look for the Advanced option.

4. In the Advanced option page, under Privacy and Security, click the Clear Browsing Data button. It will display a list of items with checkboxes. Check the required boxes, including cookies, then click the Clear Data button.

Apple Safari

To delete cookies from Apple Safari browser, follow these steps.

1. On your Safari browser, and on the top menu bar, click Safari, choose Settings, then click again on the Privacy tab.

2. Now, click the Details button to view cookies stored in the browser.

3. Here, you are given the option to either clear individual cookies or clear all cookies at once.

4. If you wish to clear individual cookies, select them and click the Remove button. Alternatively, to delete all cookies, simply click the Remove All button.

Mozilla Firefox

To delete cookies from Mozilla Firefox browser, follow these steps.

1. On your Firefox browser, click the Settings icon located on the top right corner after the address bar.

Note: The browser’s Settings icon is usually displayed having three horizontal lines (like a hamburger).

2. Click Preferences or Options (on Windows) from the drop-down menu.

3. From the left panel, select Privacy & Security, then under Cookies and Site Data, click the Clear Data button. On the small pop-up window, check the Cookies and Site Data box and click the Clear button.

Conclusion

Browser cookies are used by websites to improve user experience, but sometimes, it can also become a major concern for most users because of the amount of information cookies can collect, store and use.

Nevertheless, you can get flight deals on online flight search tools and airliner’s websites as well, without having to store their cookies on your browser.

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