Travel experts share pricing secrets

HOUSTON (KTRK) -- The busy summer travel season is upon us, and before you book a flight or hotel room, you should know that your own search history on your computer could be working against you.

It's no secret that prices vary for the same plane tickets, and it's a perfectly legal tactic called price discrimination. You and another person might be searching for the same deal, but a website might offer different prices based on your searches.

"When you go online shopping, you're spending money, your computer is saving all this information so when you go to book a flight they may try to hike the price up based on what you have purchased in the past," said local travel expert and world traveler Jamiee Ratliff.

Your history is saved on your computer's cookies, which are digital files sent by your browser to each site you visit.

"If I go on the site based on my cookies, it could be one price and for you it could be $100 cheaper," said Ratliff.

If you ordinarily visit high-end sites, you may pay more when it comes to booking travel arrangements.

To get a fair price, clear your cookies before you search. You can also open a new window and change the settings to incognito mode. The private browsing window is usually located at the top right-hand of the computer screen. You can also press Ctrl+Shift+N (Windows, Linux, and Chrome OS) and Apple-Shift-N (Mac).

"Another thing is when the airlines know you are ready to book travel, they create this sense of urgency. If you don't browse incognito, they will continue to hike up the price if you go back and search multiple times," Ratliff said.

Another way to save is to check on different days.

To test the theory, ABC-13 found a roundtrip ticket on Southwest Airlines from Houston to Orlando on Thursday for $542.

The next day, we looked at the exact same itinerary. This time the price was $474, a savings of $68.

Also, beware of a practice called price steering, which is when a site tries to get you to book a certain type of rate based on what they show you.

"They might show you the ones they want you to book early in the search, and the ones they don't want you to book further down in your search," International Business Times travel writer Ismat Mangla said.

If you want to get the best price on an airline ticket, the magic number for a domestic fare is to book 47 days in advance. If you're planning on taking a trip to South America or other international destinations, book 90 days ahead.

Historically, you will save the most booking on a Tuesday.

Another hidden gem is the website The site will send you a daily newsletter of the best flight deals. They also try to catch the glitch fares that airlines sometimes honor.

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