Your Computer's Cookies Can Affect Cost of Air Travel

BY STANLEY ZAROWIN

YOUR COMPUTER’S COOKIES CAN AFFECT COST OF AIR TRAVEL 
 I use my computer to search for the best airfares and some of my colleagues swear that the best time to search is Tuesday after midnight because that’s when the airlines release their best fares. Is there any truth to that?

Based on my unscientific testing, I’d say it’s another cocktail-talk legend. But there’s no doubt that, with a little effort, your computer can pin down significant airfare bargains. But first you have to understand how the system works.

Like most businesses, airlines are eager to get new customers even if it means it will cost them a bit more to lure one from another airline. So many of their Web sites are designed to ferret out new arrivals. To do that, their Web sites are programmed to check your computer’s cookies to see if you’ve been there before. If you’re new—that is, you have no stored cookies from that airline—the program is designed to tempt you with a good price in the hope you’ll buy now and be back in the future.

In order to outfox the airline, you’ve got to be sure they don’t spot your cookie when you cruise to their site. The only sure way is to remove it from your computer. It’s easy enough to do. In Internet Explorer, click on Tools , Internet Options , Delete Cookies . In Firefox, click on Tools , Clear Private Data , then check the Cookies box and finally on Clear Private Data Now .

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