Should I Search for Flights in Incognito Mode?
Save a few dollars on your final flight price with some clever internet trickery and a few spy-level secrets
When searching for the best deals on flights, you’ll run into a seemingly never-ending list of tips – or, rather, hacks – that claim to get you the best deal on your ticket. Book six weeks out for the best deal, but six months if you’re going international. Depart on a Wednesday and see that price drop. Use Kayak. No … use Google Flights. No … use Skyscanner.
The list goes on and on.
One popular tip tells travelers to search for and book flights in incognito mode.
Masters of disguise – or those named Bond, Austin Powers or Jason Bourne -- might be familiar with this browser setting, but the less internet-savvy may just be asking: What is incognito mode?
Simply put, the feature, found on most modern web browsers (Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Apple Safari, etc.), allows users to glide through the vastness of the internet mostly undetected. But, undetected from what, exactly?
Cookies. Ever heard of them?
Most websites and web-based applications track your behavior online using cookies, which helps them get to know more about your behavior, preferences and other information. They use this information to better advertise products and services to you. (You didn’t think those eerily timed advertisements that pop up on your Facebook feed minutes after you’ve shopped for a product were a coincidence, did you?)
But for the private or paranoid among us, there’s no need to fear, as most modern web browsers come prebuilt with a setting that allows you to surf the web without being tracked by these cookies.
But what does this have to do with flights?
Many internet sleuths theorize that searching repeatedly for the same flight slowly inches up the price on that ticket as airlines and flight aggregators track behavior. To work around this, they suggest switching browser settings to a private or incognito mode to shed your browser history and move across the web in stealth mode.
Flying under the radar
Ready to start escaping the ever-watching eye of the internet? To try out your browser’s incognito or private browsing mode, you’ll want to first open a private browsing tab. Simply navigate to the browser menu, usually found in the upper right-hand corner of your browser window, and select “New incognito/private window.”
You can also use the keyboard shortcut Ctrl + Shift + p in Microsoft Edge, Internet Explorer and Mozilla Firefox; Ctrl + Shift + n in Google Chrome; or Command + Shift + p in Apple Safari.
And, let the savings roll in
Well, not exactly.
See, many factors go into determining the price of a flight, including search location, what airport you intend to use, how long until the flight and what day of the week you plan to depart.
Travel resources like the magazines Where and Travel + Leisure maintain that the advantage of searching for flights in incognito mode is just an internet rumor. Others, like Money magazine and the Thrifty Nomads blog, suggest this trick should be in every budget traveler’s toolkit.
Long story short…
It never hurts to exhaust all your options when trying to get the best deal on a flight. While searching in incognito mode might seem like a time- and energy-intensive process, it’s actually relatively simple and could shave a few dollars off your final ticket price.
After all, even super-secret international sleuths love a bargain.