4 Tech Hacks to Save Money on Your Next Flight

Passenger relaxing on airplane
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Looking to save money on your next flight? Let technology work for you and put these four great hacks to good use.

They'll help keep cash in your pocket to spend on more important things, like tacky souvenirs and margaritas beside the pool.

Use Private Browsing to Search for Flights

We all know that flight prices vary based on demand. What many people aren't aware of is that some airlines take this to extremes, and display higher prices to people who repeatedly search for the same thing.

Most websites save cookies (small pieces of text) on your phone or computer to help identify you every time you use the site. The theory goes that if you are checking the cost of a San Francisco to New York flight every few days, it's a trip you really want to take. Some airlines will start pushing up the price as a result, attempting to make you book right now before the cost gets any higher.

The easiest way to avoid this shady practice is to use private browsing when looking for flights, which automatically deletes cookies and other identifying information when you close your web browser.

Here's how to use private browsing on Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer, and Safari.

Buy From a Different Country

Speaking of flights, prices for the exact same flights can vary based on something as simple as the country you're buying them from. If you're looking to buy domestic flights in another country, or an international flight departing from somewhere other than the US, it's worth using a tech trick to make it seem as if you're browsing from the country in question.

If you already have some VPN software on your device (and as a traveler, you should), just tell it that you want to connect through France, Thailand or wherever your flight departs from.

Witopia and TunnelBear are good VPN options, and browser add-ons like Zenmate do the same thing, but only for web traffic.

Always Use Flight Search Sites

Even if you're sure you want to fly with your favorite airline, it's worth using a search site like Skyscanner or Adioso to check out the options.

Not only do they often turn up much cheaper carriers for your intended route if you're flying point to point, they'll sometimes show flights with your preferred carrier that are cheaper than what you'll find on the airline's own website.

Why? Some online travel agents and consolidators buy tickets in bulk, and still offer them at a lower price even when the airline's site has already bumped the cost up due to demand.

Many flight search sites also give more flexible options when specifying your dates and destination. If you're not set on flying on a particular day or to a certain airport, search across entire weeks or months, and even entire countries, to find that elusive bargain fare.

Avoid the Silly Surcharges

With base fares getting cheaper and cheaper, airlines look to make up the difference with 'ancillary charges' – in other words, anything that's not the actual act of moving you from place to place. One of the more annoying fees has to do with the check-in process.

While each airline is different, some will charge you extra for checking in at a counter rather than online.

Read the fine print on your booking, and if this applies to you, don't forget to log on and check in the night before.

Most airlines will open online check-in 24 hours before the flight – but they'll usually close it three or four hours before departure, so don't wait until you get to the airport.

It's also worth finding out whether you need a printed copy of your boarding pass, or whether you can save it to your smartphone or use an airline's app instead.

Make sure you follow check-in instructions to the letter – airlines like European budget carrier Ryanair are notorious for charging as much as $115 per person for a counter check-in and $25 just to print out a boarding pass!