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Do browser cookies increase flight prices?

Ever wondered if cookies make a difference to the flight prices that you’re viewing online? Or have you ever been advised to clear your cookies while searching for flights? Let’s demystify the issue today.

What are cookies?

At its essence, a cookie is a digital file stored by your web browser that is created by a website you visit. It stores your preferences —usernames, passwords and form details— so that the next time you visit the website, the same details will be auto-filled for you. This also means that when doing flight searches, your search preferences —destination, the number of passengers and travel dates— are saved and stored for your next visit.

There are two main types of cookies: persistent, and session. Persistent cookies last longer, ranging from days to months, but are usually deleted after the expiration date. Session cookies, however, have a much shorter ‘life’ as they are meant to store information only for the duration of your search, and are deleted as soon as you exit the page.

Does Skyscanner use cookies to increase flight prices?

The prices shown on Skyscanner are passed on from the travel agent’s or the airline’s database. It’s not possible for cookies to influence these prices as your cookies are anonymous and not tracked by the travel agent or airline’s website. This is a guarantee that the flight prices you see on Skyscanner are what travel agents and airlines give to us, and we have agreements with our partners that ensure availability of flights at those prices. Of course, as flight prices often fluctuate, we have a team at Skyscanner who closely monitors price activity to spot any behaviours or patterns that look suspicious and to immediately take action.

Will clearing my cookies help me find a cheaper flight?

No. Since Skyscanner cookies are anonymous and not passed on to a third party, our flight prices are unbiased and are what our partners (airlines and travel agencies) report them to be.

Then why do flight prices go up?

This is a complicated question as it relies on a number of factors. But first up, do remember that flight prices change in real-time. A common metric for flight prices is based on the number of days to your flight, and the availability of seats on the flight. Typically, flights would get more expensive as seats sell out… but this is not always the case. If a flight is only half full, then airlines might actually increase ticket prices to cover the losses of flying an empty plane.

Read more: The science behind flight pricing

So how do you know when to book to find the cheapest flights? Well, we’re one step ahead of you…

When’s the best time to book the cheapest flight?

As a general rule of thumb, travel dates in November tend to be the cheapest times to fly, while July and December tend to be the most expensive. Of course, travel location also affects price, and each destination would have its own travel seasons. For example, if you’re travelling to South Korea, you’d ideally want to book 12 weeks ahead.

If your travel period is not fixed, instead of specifying dates on your Skyscanner search, click the ‘cheapest month’ option. This feature helps you find the cheapest flights across all dates quickly.

How can I make sure I find the best deal on flights?

We have just the tools to aid flight deal lovers like you:

  • Set up price alerts to be notified by email the moment prices change.
  • If your travel dates are flexible, use Skyscanner’s search feature to find you the cheapest flights in a certain month, or even the whole year! From there, you can narrow down your search to find the perfect travel days that are a steal.
  • Don’t really care where you travel to, as long as it’s not here? Then use our convenient ‘Everywhere’ search feature to find flights to anywhere and everywhere! Tell us the dates you’re flying, and we’ll provide you with the cheapest flights to a range of destinations.

Read more: How to find cheap flights on Skyscanner

Ready to get searching and start travelling the world? Book cheap flights, hotels and car rental via Skyscanner today, or download our free mobile app for easy browsing and booking on the go.

Adapted from an article originally written by Catherine McGloin for Skyscanner