Is It True That Some Hotel and Airline Sites Track Your Browsing Habits, Then Raise Their Prices?

Waiting at the Airport
Izabela Habur / Getty Images

It’s true, says Johnny Jet, of the travel site

It’s called “dynamic pricing”—firms track your online browsing, and adjust prices according to factors like your eagerness to buy, your online purchases, even where you live.

Be wary, he says, of aggregator booking sites like Priceline, Kayak, and Orbitz, the last of which was found in 2012 to raise prices for Mac users, believing they were more affluent.

And the practice still goes on: Recently, one Men’s Fitness editor visited a booking site a few times in one morning, changing dates to check fares on flights to Ohio; but when she returned to her first search dates, the trip had gone up $60, from $250 to $310.

There’s an easy fix, Jet says: Delete your cookies and search history, switch to an incognito window, change browsers, or search from different IP addresses—say, on a work and a home computer—then buy.

When our editor cleared her history and cookies and searched again, the fare was back down to $250. She bought it, and saved a bundle.

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