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Keep Calm and Get Rid of Cookies

Nope, this has nothing to do with food.  Over the last week, we’ve seen some crazy good deals on airfare. I’m so happy that a  few of my readers were able to take advantage of the mistake fare to New Zealand.

Of course, most of the time, you aren’t going to be flying across the globe for $200. Unless you are using miles, you’ll be looking at places like Orbitz, Kayak or airline’s own website. Well, this post is a reminder on why you should always clear your cookies first.

I’ll be honest, this whole process is a bit of a mystery to me, but most of my readers are much more IT savvy. In fact, one of them, who happens to live in New Zealand, sent me this rant via email and agreed for me to publish it. I took out the names to protect privacy. Without further ado:

 
“I came across this issue in 2015 when moving to New Zealand.  My Kiwi partner  was flying roundtrip from Wellington to Minneapolis.  My son and I were flying one-way Minneapolis to Wellington.  We were trying to get our flights at the same time, while Skyping, on Air New Zealand.  I booked mine.  But suddenly all the flights on his end were taken and he panicked.
 I told him to CALM DOWN AND DELETE COOKIES.  He is an engineer and more techie than me.  He kind of shook his head, thinking I was being superstitious. But he did it to humor me and to his amazement, the flights had opened back up!
 
Fast forward to today. 
 
I had recently booked an award ticket from Dallas to New Zealand. I needed to fly out of Minneapolis, but there was no availability at the time. Well, just today I found a connecting award flight from Minneapolis to Dallas to complete my trip home.  The flight was horrible:  Departs Mpls at 5:30 AM (with a child) and goes to Miami.  One hour in Miami and then to Dallas, 10 hours in Dallas and then fly 16 hours or so to Sydney.  Then 12 hours in Sydney (6AM – 6PM) and  arrive to Wellington at midnight.  
 
But I considered the money we were saving and the chance to lock in 2 tickets from Mpls to Wellington for a $300 change fee ($150/person).  So, I called American.  The rep tried to book it for me but couldn’t because it exceeded the number of allowable miles.  Foiled again!
He said he could do it, but it would cost us an extra 20,000 miles (10,000 miles per person). I turned to my partner to bounce it off of him.  What should we do?  It would cost us more miles. I might as well have just flown business class! We decided to see what it would cost to just buy a one-way ticket and earn miles instead.
 
The nice rep looked up the flights from Mpls to Dallas.  Direct.  Where I get to earn miles.  And not have a 10 hour layover as we arrive 1.5 hours before our flght departs.  The flights were only $130.00!  
 
But can he connect that reservation to my existing one so that I can still take 2 bags home? I want to bring  my photo albums and other personal items that are at my mom’s house.  No. It will be domestic rules on baggage. But since I have AAdvantage credit card, the first bag is free and the second one is $35.00.    
 
This is sounding good.  Then I ask him: should I book it myself to avoid the booking fee?  He suggests I do it as the booking fee is $25.00/person. So I look online while on the phone with him.  Guess what!?  That same flight was going to cost me $399/person!  
 
He didn’t believe me.  He walked me through the steps.  Made sure I was on the US website.  Told me what to click and where.  We compared flight numbers and times and the same flight that he saw for $130/person was coming up on my laptop as $399/person.  He offered to transfer me to IT.  
 
I told him he didn’t need to.  That I knew what was happening.  I asked him to hold for a moment.  I ran over to my partner’s desktop and there it was $130/person.  So we booked it on the desktop. I paid $260.00 total and am earning miles, instead of paying a $300.00 change fee + 20,000 miles for a horrible flight schedule.
 
How is this even legal?  Talk about sleazy. I deleted  cookies, restarted my laptop, and there it is:  $130.00.  Believe it or not, the same thing can happen to hotel prices. Moral of the story:  Always, always delete cookies first.”
I don’t know about you, but I was on the edge of my seat the entire time I was reading it! I really hope someone turns this story into a movie script. Thanks to my reader for contributing this very useful information. Short version: cookies=bad. That actually applies to  real life too, though I still love them.
cookie
Image courtesy of posterize at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
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Author: Leana

Leana is the owner and founder of Miles For Family. She enjoys beach vacations and visiting her family in Europe. Originally from Belarus, Leana resides in central Florida with her husband and two children.

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5 thoughts on “Keep Calm and Get Rid of Cookies

  1. And note, it can happy to miles as well. Availability can change. Hotel mileage prices can change. The more you search and search for the same flight or hotel, the more they slowly start jacking up the price.

  2. Nice job!!! It’s such a complicated story to follow!!! Thanks for sharing with the public! And I love the “edge of my seat” comment at the end. I was laughing! Amanda.

    • @Amanda Thanks for contributing this story. I will really need to watch out for this sort of thing. I’m wondering how many times I’ve overpaid for hotels doing my IHG promos. I guess we’ll never know. Maybe it’s better that way!

  3. It’s not a new phenomenon. Just open the web site using Incognito mode on Gooogle Chrome, which does the same thing – it creates a new browser window that has no pre-existing cookies or history – as if you had a fresh new computer. Other browsers have a similar private browsing mode. Some travel/shopping sites will even give you different prices depending on what browser you are using (Safari users are assumed to be more wealthy because Apple products are expensive). And there is also location discrimination where computer IP addresses inside a country are given lower prices than IPs originating outside that country (you can get around this sometimes using the Hola extension for Chrome or using a VPN service). Moral of the story: if you’ve heard of a “deal”, whether it is travel, shopping, cc signup bonus, etc. and you cannot get the desired result to appear, try these various tricks. You can read more at http://lifehacker.com/5973689/how-web-sites-vary-prices-based-on-your-information-and-what-you-can-do-about-it or http://time.com/money/3534651/price-discrimination-travelocity-orbitz-home-depot/

    • @Erik Sorry, your comment had to be manually approved. WordPress often thinks your comments are spam. Ironic, because they are anything but!
      Yeah, I’ve heard of this thing before and can’t believe it’s legal, to be honest. I know this happens to Amex credit card offers too, so it’s not just travel and shopping. Unfortunately, some people are not aware of this sleazy phenomenon, and some like me, are just technologically impaired. Thanks for the link to the article!

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