Which raised the question: are the airlines and agencies looking at the caches of information on our computers and raising their prices for travelers who have done a number of searches (and thus are likely customers)? Does it pay to clear your caches before you start searching for pricing to ensure you get a more reasonable rate?
Though it wasn't in his current piece, McCartney said its an issue that both he and the federal government have studied. His conclusion: he doesn't think this sort of snooping is common practice, and neither do the federal agencies who investigate these matters. So clearing your caches is likely an unnecessary hassle.
But there are strategies one can follow that aid in airfare search:
- Ignore the calendars given by some sites of cheaper and more expensive dates for flying your particular route. These are often based on historic data and guesses and often have little to do with the current pricing reality.
- When searching for fares, compare apples to apples by clicking through to the last pricing screen. This ensures you're seeing the cost of the flight with all taxes and fees added in.
- Search a number of sites. Often the prices will vary greatly from one to the next.
The DOT recently enacted new rules, which will go into effect at the end of August, to clear up some of the confusion on pricing. Among them are stipulations that airlines include all taxes in the prices they advertise to the public, and show fees on the first (rather than the interior) pages of their websites. Hopefully this move will make rule #2 (above) unnecessary. For now: search thoroughly before purchasing!