Save money on Ryanair fares by… deleting your cookies?

March 23rd, 2011 50 Comments By Andy Dawson

While we were idly skimming through The Twitter yesterday, this offering from Andrew Sampson started being retweeted all over the place…

Screen shot 2011 03 23 at 10.08.49 500x251 Save money on Ryanair fares by... deleting your cookies?

Hmm, what he seems to be suggesting is that Ryanair’s prices can fluctuate according to whether or not they know you have visited their site a short time beforehand. Delete the cookies from your web browser and the original, cheaper price remains available.

Anyone else ever experienced this kind of shady unusualness? Anyone fancy trying it out so that we can see how widespread it might be? There’s your challenge crimefighters – off you go!

Comments (50) Jump to most recent comment
  1. Posted by Dominik March 23, 2011 at 11:08 am

    Yes, I fly to Poland very often and the price change exprience is happening to me every time I’m searching for flights. I thing a legal action should arise against Ryanair as this is against the law what they’ve been doing over years. They are untouchable as single person claim will never win against a giant company like Ryanair but if there is more of us we have a chance. I would also like them to stop stealing the money by charging for every person on the ticket both ways with debit card fee!! Sometimes the amount of money I pay to paym for my ticket increases the total price 2x – that is ridiculous!!!
    People, let’s fight with Ryanair!!!!

  2. Posted by Gunn March 23, 2011 at 11:22 am

    Nice tip will make sure I do that before booking. i heard there are new EU laws on cookies so perhaps that will help.

  3. Posted by SB March 23, 2011 at 11:32 am

    RyanAir have been doing this for at least 2 years, it’s a bit of a disgrace but I thought this was widely known!?

  4. That is some cheeky cheeky shenanigans – I also doubt it’ll be restricted to a RyanAir practice.

  5. Posted by Richard March 23, 2011 at 11:35 am

    Yes – I have seen this on Ryanair many years ago – it “knew” I was looking for this fare and it bumped up the price each time I visited. New computer, back to normal prices.

  6. Posted by dvdj March 23, 2011 at 11:54 am

    Pretty sure that thetrainline.com do the same as I had endless trouble trying to book a train to London as the prices kept changing up and down.

  7. Posted by marky March 23, 2011 at 11:55 am

    I seem to recall Amazon have ‘dynamic’ pricing too but it’s based on overall popularity, not just revisits. If you want something at a good price, don’t keep going back to it!

  8. Posted by Chris W March 23, 2011 at 11:55 am

    I’m fairly sure Amazon got caught doing something similar to this in the US a few years back.

  9. Posted by Jason March 23, 2011 at 12:09 pm

    I had the same issue on Expedia several years ago when booking holidays. It became a matter of course to clear cookies before visiting the site…

  10. Posted by Kevin March 23, 2011 at 12:23 pm

    It’s happened to me on several sites over the last year or two, everything from hotels, to flights, to dvd’s!

  11. Posted by Dickie Branson March 23, 2011 at 12:30 pm

    Have had similar experiences with both Easyjet and Virgin……

  12. Posted by Charlie March 23, 2011 at 12:44 pm

    @ Dominic – they are not stealing money by charging you for using a debit card. You agree to paying it by flying with them and using a debit card to book. If they don’t charge you for that, they will charge you for something else.

    So be smart, avoid the charges that you can easily avoid and let others subsidise your flights for you.

    If you want to avoid the charge, get a prepaid mastercard from FairFX …

    They are free when you top them up (with your debit card). Get one now (they can take 10 days to arrive), and be ready next time you book. Everyone should have one, just to avoid the charges imposed by Ryanair for booking using other ways. Even if you fly only once with Ryanair, it is worth getting one, just to stick your fingers up to the Air Marshall when you book. You can always use the card like a regular mastercard after that to clear the balance if you do nto need it to book flights.

  13. Posted by Tweedskin March 23, 2011 at 1:42 pm

    @ Charlie

    I think you’re missing Dominik’s point there.

    If you buy 4 tickets with ryanair in ONE TRANSACTION, why should the debit card booking fee be applied FOR EACH TICKET? Surely, it is one transaction so the fee should be charged once. And yes, I did call you Shirly.

  14. Posted by blagga March 23, 2011 at 2:11 pm

    I’ve seen this with several over the years – Amazon, Lastminute, Expedia, Eurostar. It’s not just Ryanair, even though I hate them the most for it.

    @Charlie – fuck off and post your referral link somewhere else. If anyone wants that card, just go to Fairfx via their portal and avoid topping up his referral rates.

  15. Posted by Big Daddy March 23, 2011 at 4:06 pm

    This happened on the Play.com website when I checking laptops. Went up by over £100 when I went back to buy it.

  16. Posted by PokeHerPete March 23, 2011 at 4:20 pm

    @Charlie, Thanks I signed up for one pause not.

  17. Posted by HateStupidGossip March 23, 2011 at 4:47 pm

    @John
    Wow, nicely ripped out of context. Why don’t you link to the whole discussion…?
    Hate you people… sneaky bastards!

    http://www.boards.ie/vbulletin/showthread.php?s=7ec7e8d72bd26f715e3f079e14d8af08&p=58592921#post58592921

  18. Posted by sgandtg March 23, 2011 at 5:30 pm

    If you want to avoid the massive charges added when paying by credit card (or just about any other card), why do you book direct with ryanair? If you book through Travel Republic (or some other similar agent), you can avoid the extra card charges. For example, I “booked” a ryanair flight from Prestwick to Alicante from April 3rd to April 11th and didn’t include any extras such as bagge, insurance, extra. The cost came to about £248.36. When you choose to pay by any card other than Mastercard prepaid, it adds £24 making the total £272.36. Booking the exact same via Travel Republic amounts to £248.36 plus either £6.21 if you pay by American express / Visa /Mastercard or £3.10 with mastercard Debit / Maestro / Switch / Visa Delta. Paying by Connect, Solo or Visa electron is completely free. Potentially a saving of £24 based on this example.

  19. Posted by sgandtg March 23, 2011 at 7:43 pm

    Meant to say, this was based on 2 people.

  20. Posted by Slacker March 23, 2011 at 10:19 pm

    Frankly I’d rather be pushed to my continental destination in a wheelbarrow than fly with this bunch of cunts, irrespective of price.

  21. Posted by Murt March 23, 2011 at 10:30 pm

    Use skyscanner.net to plan your trip. If you do it this way Ryanair cookies don’t get onto your PC. When you actually decide to book skyscanner will transfer you to the Ryanair site

  22. Posted by Simon March 24, 2011 at 8:34 am

    I know BA don’t do this (even though they say they can) … Another reason to never go anywhere near ryanair

  23. Posted by Jimbo March 25, 2011 at 2:49 pm

    I noticed that Easyjet do this as well.

  24. Posted by callum March 28, 2011 at 1:33 pm

    I’m personally glad they seem to put so many people off flying with them. Because people are either so lazy they won’t check terms and conditions etc. or are making some kind of point (which no-one else notices so is pretty futile really), and I can follow the simple terms and conditions they impose, I get to fly a lot cheaper than I would otherwise.

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  27. Posted by Robin Landy April 8, 2011 at 4:49 pm

    Turns out Ryanair isnt a cookie monster after all http://bit.ly/eDOqJS

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  30. Posted by RLF April 13, 2011 at 5:25 pm

    Had a similar experience last night whilst trying to book 12 flights, card got declined at very last click due to over cautious fraud protection at my Bank! Ryan Air sent me back to their homepage without keeping all the details I had entered for the 12 passengers and funnily enough it leaves no evidence of the initial price! I then had to start all over again and the prices had gone up by 15 euros per flight! Unbelivable. Felt I had no option but to book it at higher price, as I needed these flights for a group booking and Ryan Air Customer Service wasn’t open late. Then this morning I check the flights out of interest and they’re back down to what they were the first time I tried to book….disgusting. So they knew I needed to book these flights and it does make me wonder if there’s some sort of cookie scam going on. I understand flight prices do fluctuate etc, BUT the fact they were a higher price purely for my second attempt at booking last night and then back to the lower price this morning, says something!

    I have written a letter of complaint to Ryan Air Customer Services as I think the situation is unacceptable and I am 180 euros out of pocket for no valid reason. We’ll see what happens, but they shouldn’t be allowed to operate so unfairly and take extra money from innnocent people who are spending money with their company. I’m not a happy Ryan Air Customer and I doubt I will receive any response from them, although I will keep trying.

  31. Posted by JW April 21, 2011 at 7:59 pm

    I searched for 2 flights to Marrakech at work, first they were around £150 then after checking a few other flights a day later (same computer) they were £193. Came home and booked on my home pc which hadn’t looked at those flights before and the cost was £141.96. Very suspicious but a result regardless.

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  34. Posted by Gareth Williams August 10, 2011 at 10:25 pm

    This happened to me a few weeks ago. Booked a flight to Thailand with Qatar airways after checking their website for weeks to see if the price was coming down for the date that i wanted. I checked their website a week later and the flight was £50 cheaper. All the details and connecting flights were all the same so i was’nt pleased to say the least. Contacted Qatar about this and all the could say was prices go up and down. This should be illegal to view cookies to rip off people.

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  36. Posted by Bazza January 5, 2012 at 12:55 am

    Yes I have witnessed this price bumping on Ryan Air, I tried deleting cookies on all browsers but no luck, I even tried sites like hidemyass to hide my I.P address by using different proxy servers but Ryan Air seems to detect them as I can’t seem to get to the flight prices after submitting times and dates etc., very odd.

  37. Posted by Raymond Dunlop April 7, 2012 at 11:24 pm

    Hi. Checked prices Belfast to Luton return on 7th April 2012. Originally quoted £26.99 out and about £29.99 back. Checked an hour later and prices had gone up to £31?? & £36??. On third visit I ended up paying £34?? & £40??. I thought the reason was due to a demand and prices were rising. When I checked later on after booking the prices had gone down to £24.99 & £31.99. I will be more carefull in future. I would describe Easy Jets practice as sharp.

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  40. Posted by Si June 19, 2012 at 6:03 pm

    Does Ryanair ask for your permission to store these cookies and explain their purpose. No? The IPC might be interested to hear from you…

  41. same thing happened to me, I booked a flight for £129 as it said special fare as was christmas time and I look a few days after and it had gone down to £69!

    I agree, I think Ryan Air can detect when you want to book and bump the price up. I have written to complain but doubt they will do anything about it!

    In future I will be very careful to use different computers when checking fares before I book with Ryan Air again, otherwise I will lose a lot of money.

  42. Posted by ukphil February 13, 2013 at 9:37 am

    Ryanair are not using cookies to monitor your pricing. They do store the last flight setup but not the price. I watch Ryanair prices every day and keep accurate records. I am looking six months ahead and book many flights. What I have found is that the prices do move, often on a daily basis, the nearer you get to a flight. There is no science to it, it is simply a demand based pricing model that seems to follow a polynomial trend. That is, the price starts high about six months ahead and gets cheaper until about 10 – 15 days before the flight, then if the demand is still good it will continue to rise as the flight day gets nearer. What you people are seeing the changes due to demand. However, there are other factors too. This morning I sampled 15 different flights then I deleted my cookies, restarted my browser and sampled them again. Everyone was exactly the same as before. But tomorrow, I guarantee, many will have changed. It is not the cookies. Relax.

  43. Posted by Andrea February 14, 2013 at 5:24 pm

    I was purchasing a Ryanair flight, but the credit card transaction failed for unclear reasons: I am pretty sure I had entered the right numbers.
    I switched to another browser, so I should have been free from cookie issues: but still the same flight, two minutes later, was charged about 15 Euros more.
    I suspect that Ryanair tracks not only by means of cookies, but also by registering the IP from which you are connecting: most probably, the IP stays constant for a given ADSL session, so to really appear as a new customer you should rather switch off and on again the modem …
    Did anybody experience the same issue, namely an authorization failure and immediately after an increased price? I am unsure if it is illegal, but certainly looked like a trick to me.

  44. Posted by Alex April 16, 2013 at 5:28 pm

    Andrea,

    the same happens to me regularly.

    You go through the whole booking. The transaction is mysteriously denied even if the numbers carefully. You try again – it keeps being denied. I once contacted my bank to know what was wrong and I was told no request for debit was made according to their records. You then close the session (there is no way to change the card numbers), start again, and voila’ the prices are up!
    I think they register the IP or simply check how many times a particular flight is requested and adjust their prices on demand.

  45. i ahve observed these in stores, but i havent gotten my hands on a single yet!
    : i’ve the requlars even though! these look incredibly incredibly good

  46. Posted by Tony August 13, 2013 at 12:11 pm

    I found the same thing happening on thetrainline.com so today I tried an experiment both on Firefox and on Internet Explorer. Before cookies & cache were deleted I was offered a stright return fare of £27.50 with no cheap single options. After deleting cookies and cache I was offered single fares of £9.00 and £12.00 each way.

  47. Posted by maybe yes maybe not October 25, 2013 at 9:17 am

    Sorry guys.. And how do we delete the cookies from ryanair?
    (i dont know much :$ ) Thank you.! :)

  48. Posted by Lele October 28, 2013 at 11:05 pm

    @ukphil
    Then how would you explain prices going down when a user changed PC?

  49. Posted by SillySod March 31, 2014 at 7:57 am

    Sorry to poo poo this idea, but I doubt very much that cookies are having anything to do with this. If they were using a cookie to record that you had previously shown an interest, then if anything I would expect them to offer you a cheaper flight next time if anything.

    I know Ryanair flights vary in price constantly, I have used skyscanner to get email alerts and its quite unusual for the price not to change from day to day. I suspect its just price fluctuations and not the cookie causing this.

    There is a lot of paranoia around RyanAir, dont believe everything you read.

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