How to find cheaper flights using a VPN

Tips & tricks
9 mins

You might have heard that searching for flights more than once can increase ticket prices. While experts often say this is a myth, and that price fluctuations happen regardless of user behavior, many flyers would beg to differ. 

Whatever the truth may be, a VPN is a tool that can help mitigate this factor, as well as give you an advantage when it comes to potential pricing differences based on the country you’re booking from.

This guide will show you how to use a VPN to find cheaper flights effectively.

How to get better flight deals online using a VPN

Using a VPN to find cheaper flights is a straightforward process that involves masking your real location to avoid price discrimination. By changing your IP address, a VPN also helps to hide the fact that you’d recently searched for flights. 

Here’s a step-by-step guide to ensure you get the best deals on your next flight.

1. Download a VPN. ExpressVPN offers server locations in 105 countries, so you can effectively simulate browsing from different countries.

2. Clear cookies and cache. Before searching for flights, clear your browser’s cookies and cache. This prevents websites from using your past browsing data to influence prices.

3. Connect to a server in a different location. Open the VPN application and connect to a server in a country different from your own. Consider connecting to servers in countries with lower living costs, as flight prices may be cheaper when viewed from these locations.

4. Start a new incognito or private browsing session. Open a new incognito or private browsing window. This ensures any previous browsing history does not influence your search.

5. Search for flights. Search for flights by visiting multiple flight comparison websites and airlines’ official sites. 

6. Repeat. Connected to different VPN server locations and compare the prices you get to find the best deal. Ensure you follow steps 2-5 every time so your past searches don’t influence new results from other locations.

How to choose a server to get the cheapest flights

Finding the cheapest country to book flights from among the 90+ locations that ExpressVPN offers can be overwhelming, so here are some tips to help you get started:

  • Choose a developing country. Sometimes, airlines price their flights according to the purchasing power of the customers, so choosing a developing country could be a good way to take advantage of this.
  • Choose your destination country. Airlines often run sales or price flights differently, so trying your destination can be a great way to find these better prices.
  • Choose the airline’s home country. There are times when airlines price their flights cheaper to people in their home country. It could be due to local regulations or even just because there’s overcapacity.
  • Choose your own country. Especially if there’s little demand for your destination where you are, don’t underestimate the power of just connecting from your own country. The benefit you get from using a VPN is the change of IP address, to mask that you’d been searching for the flight recently.

Does Incognito or Private Mode get you cheaper flights?

Using Incognito or Private Mode is one component of making sure the booking system doesn’t identify you as having searched for flights recently. These modes prevent your browsing history from being saved but do not hide your IP address or location. Combining Incognito Mode with a VPN is best for more effective results in finding flight prices without the influence of your recent browsing history.

That said, there is no guarantee you’ll find cheaper flights using these methods.

How effective is searching for cheaper flights with a VPN?

It’s not easy to find cheaper flights, no matter how many countries you try to place yourself in. Some sites show the same prices to all visitors.

Sometimes even if you find a cheaper flight, once you go through the process of booking, the site will revert the price back to the one for your home country. It might do this based on your billing address, for instance.

There also might be cases where you successfully find cheaper flights when you appear to be in different countries, but the differences are small, perhaps 10 or 20 USD. So it might not be worth your while. 

That said, the higher the cost of your flight, the more worthwhile it is to try, as you could potentially save several hundred dollars.

One undeniable benefit of using a VPN is it helps mask your recent activity from the site (as you’ll have a different IP address), so that it won’t see that you’re serious about your purchase and raise prices just for you.

8 ways to book cheap flights

Booking cheap flights requires a blend of timing, technology, and a bit of strategy. Also, a bit of luck never hurts. You can employ several tactics to ensure you’re getting the lowest prices on airfare. Here, we’ll explore some of them.

1. Book on a Sunday or late at night

Sunday is the best day to fire up your laptop for the cheapest fares. If you’re really committed to getting the best deal, wait until say 2 a.m. to search for flights. Prices fluctuate through the week and day, and these are considered the best moments to hunt for good prices.

2. Use a VPN

Using a VPN can change the prices you’re shown when searching for flights by masking your actual location and allowing you to appear as if browsing from a different country. This method uses the variations in pricing strategies across different markets to your advantage, potentially leading to substantial savings on airfare.

3. Clear cookies, history, and cache

Airlines and booking sites often track your browsing behavior through cookies, potentially raising prices based on your search history. By clearing your cookies, history, and cache, you reset this tracking, preventing the sites from using your past searches against you to inflate prices, thus ensuring you’re offered the lowest available fares.

4. Book in advance

Booking your flights well in advance can lead to significant savings. Airlines often offer lower prices for flights booked several weeks or months ahead of the departure date. As the flight date approaches, ticket prices tend to increase due to higher demand and lower seat availability. 

5. Consider an “open jaw” trip

Open jaw is a type of itinerary where you fly into one city (say, London) and out of another (such as Manchester), and how you get between those two cities is entirely up to you. Such tickets are often cheaper than buying a roundtrip, plus they allow you to travel around a country or region without having to get back to your starting point.

6. Be flexible with travel dates

Airline prices fluctuate based on demand, which varies depending on the day of the week, time of year, and even time of day. You can take advantage of lower-priced flights by being open to traveling on different dates or times. Utilizing flight comparison tools that compare prices across multiple dates can help you identify the cheapest times to fly, potentially saving you hundreds of dollars.

7. Use a flight comparison tool

Flight comparison tools aggregate prices from various airlines and booking sites, allowing you to quickly identify the cheapest options for your travel dates and destinations. These platforms often offer filters to adjust for flight duration, stops, and times, helping you find your ideal balance between cost and convenience.

8. Wait for Black Friday flight deals or other airline sales

Airline sales, especially during events like Black Friday, Cyber Monday, or other promotional periods, can offer substantial discounts on flights. Keeping an eye on these deals and being ready to book when prices drop can lead to significant savings. Airlines and travel agencies often announce these sales in advance, so signing up for newsletters and alerts from your preferred airlines can ensure you take advantage of these limited-time offers.

9. Check for error fares

Error fares occur when airlines mistakenly post incorrect ticket prices, which can result in significantly discounted flights. To catch these deals, follow travel deal websites and forums, and act quickly when you spot an error fare, as airlines may correct the mistake within hours. While airlines sometimes honor these fares, they also have the right to cancel them, so it’s wise to wait before making additional travel arrangements.

What causes changes in airline ticket prices?

Airline ticket prices are influenced by a complex mix of factors, including demand, competition, fuel costs, and even global events. Airlines use dynamic pricing algorithms that adjust fares in real-time based on how many seats are sold and how quickly. 

Additionally, airlines consider your search history, location, and potential interest in a particular itinerary, which is why deleting your cookies and cache and using a VPN can get you better prices.

Seasonality and holidays also play a significant role, with prices typically increasing during peak travel periods. Understanding these factors helps travelers make more informed decisions and find better deals by timing their purchases or choosing less popular travel times.

How do airline websites determine your location?

While there are numerous ways websites and services can determine your location, by far the most common one is via IP address. Your IP address, assigned by your internet service provider every time you go online, is a string of numbers that give clues to your approximate location.

A VPN does two main things: It encrypts your connection to give you greater online security, and it gives you a different IP address to give you greater anonymity and make you appear to be in a different location.

This is why a VPN is an effective way to alter where an airline website (and most other websites) think you are.

Other benefits of using a VPN when shopping online

Besides helping you get cheaper flights, using a VPN has major benefits for your security and privacy online. Some of these are:

  • Enhanced privacy. Masks your IP address, keeping your browsing activities from being tracked by ISPs, governments, and other third parties.
  • Improved security. Encrypts your internet connection, safeguarding your data (including credit card information) from hackers, especially on public Wi-Fi networks. Our Aircove Go portable VPN router is a great gadget for travelers looking for better security. Just connect it to a public Wi-Fi network, and all your devices using Aircove Go will be protected by strong VPN encryption. (You must have an active ExpressVPN subscription to use the VPN functionality of Aircove routers.)
  • Access restricted content. Allows you to bypass censorship and restrictions like those in school and office Wi-Fi networks.
  • Better deals. It’s not just flights. You can use a VPN to try to search for different prices on hotel stays, streaming subscriptions, and goods.

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

Yes, using a VPN to shop, including for flights, is legal. You should note that it’s always a good practice to review the terms and conditions of the airline and booking platforms before using a VPN to ensure compliance and avoid potential issues.

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