Many people suspect that flight prices go up the more they search.

But is this true, or is it nothing more than just a suspicion?

Flight prices don’t actually go up the more you search.

It may seem like flight prices increase the more you search because flight ticket prices increase over time as the number of available seats decreases. So the next time you search for a flight, the price of a flight may have increased because of this.

Another factor that results in higher flight prices being shown is due to competitor actions whereby another airline may have adjusted their ticket prices.

In short, there is no evidence that airlines increase ticket prices when you search more for a flight, with other factors being at play for the increase in prices instead.

Do Flight Prices Go Up the More You Search?

Online Travel Agencies

There is little-to-no evidence to suggest that online travel agencies increase prices based on search traffic.

In fact, there’s contrary evidence that they show lower prices for repeated searches.

Travel agencies are incentivized to show visitors lower prices to encourage sales. So, they wouldn’t benefit from increasing prices. 

Airline Websites

There is very little evidence to suggest that airlines increase prices when people repeatedly search for flights on their websites.

Flight prices increase over time as the number of available seats decreases or demand for the flight’s route increases.

Like most websites, airlines track user behavior using cookies, but this practice will end by 2024 because cookies are being phased out.

As such, even if airline websites currently increase prices for repeated searches, this practice won’t last. 

How Strong is the Evidence?

There is no substantial evidence that proves that airlines increase flight ticket prices because of passengers searching more for flights.

Airlines currently track users’ cookies for marketing purposes, but there’s no evidence that they change prices using this information.

Many airlines have stated that prices may temporarily change because of inventory updates or glitches. 

If airlines do raise prices on an individual basis because of repeated flight searches, whistleblowers and legislators would have likely revealed this information.

Most likely, when people experience increased flight tickets over time, it’s because of other factors.

What is Dynamic Pricing?

Dynamic pricing is a pricing technique in which a product’s price changes in real-time because of market demand.

When a product is dynamically priced, its price changes in real-time according to market data.

For example, airfare tickets are dynamically priced according to market demand.

Factors like customer booking patterns, weather changes, and competitor actions dynamically affect airfare prices. 

Airlines use dynamic pricing since it maximizes their revenue.

Airlines have high fixed costs, including fuel and ground handling costs, and low variable costs, including the cost of carrying additional passengers.

The result is that airlines must maximize revenue per flight seat. 

Airlines use dynamic pricing to achieve this.

It Can Sometimes Seem Like Flight Prices Go Up the More You Search

Many people feel that flight prices go up the more they search for flights because airlines increase ticket prices over time in response to increasing market demand and fewer available seats.

Naturally, airlines charge less per seat when demand is low, and they charge more when demand is high.

Inventory changes or route changes may also affect flight prices in short time periods. 

There is No Need to Clear Cookies When Searching

Cookies contain data from your web browsing history, so deleting cookies removes that information.

You’re unlikely to benefit from clearing your cookies before searching for flights, though.

Clearing your cookies is unlikely to impact flight prices and could even result in you seeing higher flight prices at online travel agencies. 

It Can Be a Good Idea to Use a VPN

You might want to use a VPN when searching for flights, but not because it results in lower prices.

Most airlines track and collect large amounts of consumer data, some of which are used for dynamically pricing tickets.

Using a VPN prevents airlines from collecting your information. 

It Doesn’t Matter If You’re Logged In

There are no benefits of being logged in while searching for flights, unless you have a promotion that requires you to sign in.

There are also no drawbacks of being signed in, since there’s no evidence that being signed in increases flight prices. 

Flight Prices May Go Down Late At Night

Flight prices may go down late at night because fewer people visit airline websites and book tickets at midnight and in the early morning hours, so there’s lower demand at night.

It is still somewhat unlikely, though.

Book a Flight in Advance to Secure the Best Deal

The cheapest time to book a flight is between four months and three weeks before departure.

Flight tickets are expensive when new flights are posted because people who book flights far in advance are willing to pay more.

People who book flights closer to the departure date are also likely to pay more. So airlines charge more for last-minute bookings, too. 

In conclusion:

  • Flight prices don’t increase because you search more for flights – and there is very little evidence to suggest otherwise.
  • Many passengers feel that prices increase the more they search, but it’s due to other factors.
  • Plane tickets naturally become more expensive over time as there are fewer and fewer available seats.
  • Other factors like weather changes or competitor pricing also influence airline ticket prices since airlines use dynamic pricing.

Ella Dunham, a Freelance Travel Journalist and Marketing Manager, boasts an impressive career spanning eight years in the travel and tourism sectors.

Honored as one of "30 Under 30" by TTG Media (the world’s very first weekly travel trade newspaper), a "Tour Operator Travel Guru" and "Legend Award" winner, Ella is also a Fellow of the Institute of Travel, a Member of the Association of Women Travel Executives, has completed over 250 travel modules, and hosts travel-focused segments on national radio shows where she provides insights on travel regulations and destinations.

Ella has visited over 40 countries (with 10 more planned this year).