A hand holding a paper plane, a couple of coins behind it

Searching for flights can be a frustrating experience. The more you search, the higher flight ticket prices get. Believe it or not, prices change according to your IP address, browsing or purchase history, zip code, and even your Wi-Fi connection. Thankfully, you can overcome this by using a VPN.

Follow along to learn how you can use a VPN to beat price discrimination and get the best deals for flight tickets.

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    How to get better deals online with a VPN 

    Clearing your cookies and cache and changing your IP can significantly reduce prices for flight tickets. Clearing cookies and cache erases prior activity history on all platforms while changing your IP hides your physical location. By doing both, you significantly reduce the chances of getting overcharged for flights.

    Tip: check our special VPN offers to save money on the VPN as well.

    1. Download and install a VPN if you haven’t already.
    A screenshot of Surfshark’s webpage with the pricing plans open
    1. Open your VPN and select any server.
    A screenshot of Surfshark’s VPN app with the locations tab open
    1. Search for your preferred flights on Surfshark Search — a tool that gives you organic results without ads or tracking.
    A screenshot of Surfshark’s webpage with the Surfshark Search tab open.
    1. Write down the flight prices.

    I looked at Skyscanner results for flights from New York to London, leaving on March 1 and returning on March 4, 2024. Here are the results:

    VPN server: London, UK

    Dates: March 1-4, 2024

    Price: £292 (~$370)

    A screenshot of Skyscanner’s search results for flights from New York to London with the estimate for a ticket being £292
    A screenshot of a Windows panel showing how to clear browsing data
    1. Repeat steps 2-5 and write down flight prices when using different server locations.

    Example:

    VPN server: Dallas, USA

    Dates: March 1-4

    Price: $417

    A screenshot of Skyscanner’s search results for flights from New York to London with the estimate for a ticket being $417

    In this case, simply switching to a VPN server in London was enough to save $47 for the same tickets. And it only took a few seconds. There’s a good possibility that if you took some more time and tried more servers in more locations, you could get the tickets even cheaper.

    You can use a VPN to save money on more than just flights. The same methods could also work for getting better deals on accommodation and online shopping.

    Incognito flights — a cheap flight hack or a cheap hoax?

    There’s a rumor flying around the internet that using Incognito mode can help you save money when buying flight tickets. It’s called ‘’Incognito flight hack,” ‘’The browser hack,’’ or ‘’Flight booking hack.’’

    As soon as you turn on Incognito mode, the price of the same ticket is supposed to be lower, even on Google Flights. Well, that might’ve been a lie. We ran multiple tests, and the price didn’t change when going Incognito.

    You see, the pricing for flights or accommodation is usually based on the market — your location gives away what market you’re in. But Incognito mode doesn’t hide your IP, which lets the websites you visit see your general location and adjust prices accordingly.

    Incognito only limits access to your computer’s cache and cookie folders and doesn’t save any data from the browsing session afterward. However, it’s true that some service providers track data and change their offers depending on your cookies. Since it’s not public knowledge, we can’t say for sure if that’s the case with every provider.

    More ways to get ultimate deals

    As it stands, changing your location seems to be a must if you want to find cheaper flights. If you have the time to experiment, here are some things you can try that may help you save even more:

    • Change your VPN server to one in a developing country;
    • Change your VPN server to one in your destination country;
    • Change your VPN server to the airline’s home country;
    • Change your VPN server back to your country.

    *Don’t forget to clear your cookies every time you change your location with a VPN!

    Here are some common practices that can help you get the best flight deals:

    1. Be flexible with your dates. If you want to fly when everyone’s flying (like during Christmas), your chances of finding a cheap ticket are low.
    2. Be flexible with your destinations. You’re much more likely to find cheap tickets if you’re open to a variety of destinations rather than only looking to visit a specific city or country. 
    3. Be open to connecting flights. Sometimes, direct flights can be more expensive than connecting ones. You can save quite a bit if you’re okay with spending a few more hours in an airport and hopping onto a couple of planes instead of one.
    4. Mix and match airlines. If you’re not flying direct, you might as well check if you can save money by using one airline for one leg of your journey and a different one for the next. 
    5. Book in advance. 2-3 months before departure is a nice sweet spot. However, if you want to travel during peak season, you might need to look for flights as much as 5-6 months in advance. 
    6. Use flight comparison sites. Flight comparison sites can sometimes find deals that are even cheaper than tickets purchased directly from the airline. 

    What causes changes in ticket pricing?

    While comparing offers online, you can see how flight ticket prices increase every time you visit or even refresh a page. This is mostly related to your location and your previous activity on the website or platform.

    In simple terms, when you show interest in a particular flight or destination, flight companies use this information to increase ticket prices. The only solid way to fight this is to clear your cache and cookies. Do this every time before searching for flight tickets.

    How do websites determine your location? 

    We’ve already established that your location has a big impact on the flight prices you see. And you may be wondering how websites know where you’re located. Here are some ways they determine your location and adjust ticket prices:

    IP address 

    Every device has a unique IP address that identifies it on the internet. Since your IP address is set in a specific location, it is possible you may get location-accurate results, which is why you see the prices continuously increase the more you search for the same flight.

    Mobile tracking

    Have you used Google Maps recently? Ever notice that it always knows your exact location? While it may be obvious that Google Maps and similar platforms use GPS to locate you, do you know that GPS may also be used by websites and apps to track your device? 

    Many smartphone users often overlook this simple method for identifying their browsing location. When you keep your GPS feature on, websites will show you prices according to your location.

    A screenshot of the Location Services tab open under the iPhone’s Settings

    Browser HTML5 geolocation 

    An IP address can tell your general location, but HTML5 geolocation gives the system even more precise details — your neighborhood, street, and even your latitude and longitude coordinates. All modern browsers use this feature, but you can overcome it with a VPN. 

    Cookies

    6 text boxes pointing at a cookie. They say: From Google, Signed in, Stayed 2 min, Clicked on 2 pages, Items Bought, bsd.com

    For a short period of time, cookies store information ranging from your IP address to the date and time of your visits. Websites use this tracked data (buttons clicked, items in your cart, user preferences, etc.) to show you customized information. That may contribute to the change in pricing every time you refresh a webpage. 

    Wi-Fi

    It is possible to estimate your location from a Wi-Fi hotspot you’re using. Google might have an easier time locating Android users who have a GPS locator turned on. This allows websites to match Wi-Fi router SSID to a geographic location, and that’s how they find you. 

    Other benefits of using a VPN

    Getting cheap flights is one of the many benefits of using a VPN. First and foremost, a VPN is a privacy tool that helps you protect your privacy online. It encrypts your traffic and hides your IP address, which keeps you safe from all kinds of bad actors on the internet and helps overcome oppressive internet censorship.

    Getting better prices for flights and accommodation isn’t something that a VPN is specifically designed for. It just so happens that changing your IP and hiding your activity leads to better deals online. 

    If you choose Surfshark as your VPN provider, you can enjoy a long list of benefits that includes an ad blocker, cookie pop-up blocker, and loads more.

    Find deals faster with RatePunk

    RatePunk is a great tool if you want to find the best deals for accommodation. It’s a free browser extension that crawls multiple booking platforms for the cheapest offer. On top of that, RatePunk checks if you could get a better price by booking from a different country and let’s you know if that’s the case.

    At that point, all you need to do is connect to a Surfshark server in a country that has the best price and save money on your accommodation. The process barely takes any time at all and is free for users that already have a VPN.

    Is it legal to use a VPN to buy cheaper flights?

    Yes, it is legal to use a VPN to do any type of online shopping, including buying cheap flights. In order to make sure, I contacted support at both Kayak.com and AA.com to confirm this:

    Two screenshots of chats with Kayak.com and AA.com support asking if it is legal to use a VPN to buy cheaper flights

    Both mention that, as long as the connection allows you to buy the ticket, there are no specific statements that go against the usage of a VPN. So, next time you’re planning a vacation, use a VPN to save money and get the best ticket prices. 

    In conclusion: Book your next flight with a VPN 

    You shouldn’t have to overpay for flight tickets just because of your location or because you previously searched for them. The first step to saving is to get a VPN. Clear your cookies and connect to a VPN server. By doing so, you’ll be able to change your virtual location and stop websites from collecting data about your activity.

    And once you find those cheap flights, a VPN will also help you overcome oppressive internet censorshop and stay safe on public Wi-Fi while traveling. It’s a win-win situation!

    Stop overpaying for flights
    Get the best flight ticket deals with a VPN
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    FAQ

    Can using a VPN get you cheaper flights?

    Yes, you can get cheaper flight tickets by using a VPN. A VPN disguises your IP address and gives you a different one, let’s say an IP address in the US. You can get cheaper flights by choosing a VPN server from a country with the lowest flight prices.

    How do you use a VPN for flights?

    Get a VPN, then try connecting to servers in different countries to check the pricing. This way, you can find the best deals. 

    Which VPN gives the cheapest airline tickets?

    The VPN service you use won’t directly impact flight prices. But by choosing a VPN with servers in many countries, you can look for cheap flights in more markets. Surfshark is a good option since it has 3200+ servers in 100 countries. And you can test each of them to see which one gets you the best deals.

    Do airlines track your IP addresses?

    Yes, they do it to provide you with location-accurate details, like language and currency. Unfortunately, they also use IP addresses to adjust prices according to your location, meaning you may be charged more for a ticket solely based on where you live. To overcome this, you can change your location with a VPN. 

    Can you get cheaper flights with a free VPN?

    You can probably get cheaper flights with a free VPN. However, such VPNs tend to have servers in very few locations, so your options for deal hunting are slim. Not to mention, free VPNs are far less secure than premium ones, so you might hurt your online privacy.

    Which app gets you the best flight ticket prices?

    Whenever you’re looking for cheap flights, you should pair your search efforts with a reputable VPN app. A VPN allows you to change your virtual location and prevents activity tracking. As a result, flight companies can’t overcharge you simply based on where you live.