By Daven Lu
In November 2016, I was trying to book a flight to Thailand from Tokyo. I was a little late on booking, so the cheapest price I could find was well over 45,000 round trip. It would fluctuate between this number and 60,000.
I tried numerous sites–expedia, jetstar, air asia, google flights, peach airlines, momondo, and a few others. It wasn’t too expensive, but it was higher than I would have liked to pay.
Enter the Secret-Tech
I’ve known for a while that airlines don’t offer flat rate ticket prices. This can be observed as prices change as time passes. No one knows the exact algorithm used to determine the price, but over the past decade, people have discovered factors that influence the price. The big factors include the following:
b.) Days prior from departure
c.) Type of computer being booked from
b. is difficult to manipulate, but you can use an app called Hopper to continually monitor price swings. It can also tell you historically low price point times so you can strategically wait.
a. and c. are where you can save a lot of money if you have even the slightest bit of tech knowledge.
For a., use a proxy and hide your computer’s location to trick the website into thinking that you are booking from a different location. When I changed my location from Japan to Columbia or even Thailand, it was as if a new price had been unlocked for me. Suddenly, I saw round trip prices for 26,000, for a total savings of 19,000 yen. Yay.
For c., studies suggest that prices are inflated if you are booking from a premium computer (Alienware, and all Apple products for example). I guess airline companies think the average person is willing to fork out more for tickets if they own a luxury computer. By booking from an average Windows PC, you can be sure you are not being shown a higher price.
For a full-on analysis of location based price discrimination and how to tackle it, you can read here.
Happy booking for future travels.