Getting a better deal when you buy airline tickets online - Cincinnati News, FOX19-WXIX TV

Getting a better deal when you buy airline tickets online

By Stefano DiPietrantonio – bio |email

CINCINNATI, OH (FOX10) - When's the last time you booked a flight online? Are you a frequent flyer? Are you sure you're getting the best possible price?

Companies are experimenting with pricing structures and you may be getting a raw travel deal.

Companies can track your every move online once you land on their website. When it comes to booking airline travel, FOX19 has some easy things you absolutely need to do, before booking your next flight.

It could save you a lot of money.

In the internet world, it's all about networking and lists. There are lots of lists that get shared, bought and sold and carrying with them a lot of your personal information.

"There's enormous power in this stuff," said our FOX19 internet Dave Hatter, with Liberatas Technologies, LLC. "Because the demographics could be information that you supplied, or once they know who you are, they can go out and try and buy lists from other sources and match it into your data."

That data is collected by tracking cookies, placed on your computer's hard drive, every time you land on a website.

"They can do that anyway," said Hatter. "Unless you explicitly block that, there's no real laws on that."

There is a whole lot, yes, that legally can be tracked behind the scenes.

"When you visit a website I can know what operating system you're on, are you on Windows 7, Windows XP, Unix, whatever," said Hatter. "I can know what web browser you're running, I can know what screen resolution you have."

Hatter said it is all about your trackability.

"All the tracking, knowing that someone landed on this page, then they went to that page and they spent 30 seconds on this page and they viewed 6 pages in total while they were there and they used this word to find it and all that stuff that you can collect," said Hatter.

Companies who can afford the super-expensive software, are using the information they glean from cookies and experimenting publicly with adjusting pricing structures right now.

"So if I know your name, your address, your zip code, that's enough to pretty much uniquely identify you," said Hatter.

If an airline or travel company knows you paid 4-hundred dollars a flight several times, in theory, you will never be shown the lowest fare, because it already knows who you are and has your history of online purchases.

Here are a couple of simple things you can do before you ever log-on to insure you are getting the best or lowest fare.

First thing you need to do is clear your browsers cache and cookies before logging on, so there is no third-party information identifying who you are.

Secondly, book your flight from someone else's computer, so the website cannot associate your internet protocol or IP address with your login and screename.

The technology is getting so slick, companies can tell if you came from, for example, Orbitz to Travelocity.

Cookies can track where you came from and where you are going, so Orbitz may not offer you anything better than Travelocity, because it knows, via cookies, you were just there.

Also, once they know you live, for example, in Cincinnati, companies may adjust your pricing based on the income levels of that particular region. 

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